Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight
Alright... this is it. The Epilogue.
I don't have much to say (right now) except thank you to every single one of you – thank you for all the reviews, alerts and favourites, all the words of encouragement and for simply reading this story at all. I can't tell you how much it means to me, so I won't even bore you trying.
Simply: thank you.
Hope you enjoy this. There are a few pics for this on my profile that you might want to take a look at later.
Bouncy 72, my wonderful unofficial beta – I love you, bb. Simple as that.
And uhm... please don't hate me for this first part *hides behind a couch*
Three fucking miserable days.
I hadn't seen or talked to Bella in three days. And it was all my fault.
I groaned from my prone position on our couch, the results of my depressive state scattered all around me – beer bottles, cold pizza, beer bottles, a half-eaten sandwich, beer bottles, an opened bag of stale chips and – surprise, surprise – more beer bottles.
I had only moved from my position once in like six hours, and that was just to go take a piss.
I hadn't showered in three days. I hadn't shaved, I hadn't slept in our bed, I hadn't left the apartment, I'd barely changed my clothes every morning.
I groaned again.
Maybe 'groan' was overstating things. I more like whimpered. Sobbed, even.
I stared emptily at the corner of our coffee table, trying desperately to ignore the ache in my chest.
After three days, you'd think I'd accepted that the pain would not be ignored, that it wouldn't go away or be drowned in beer.
I'm a stubborn little asshole.
The pain came and went in waves of intensity. It was always there, always wrapping around my heart insistently, but from time to time it would flare up until it was almost unbearable. A desperate squeeze would accompany the sharp, burning tug; the tug of the bond between Bella and I, like a rope pulling me towards her.
I could feel it coming now, that squeeze n' tug; the pain was growing, the burn was worsening. It became harder and harder to breathe as the pain expanded in my chest, taking up all the space it could find.
I knew how it would feel, that seemingly endless moment of excruciating heartache; I was standing at the precipice now – all I would need was one small push, and the pain would swallow me again.
Unbidden the push came, as it always did, in the form of Bella. The image of my beautiful girl, laughing and smiling just for me, came swimming through my mind.
A sharp squeeze made me gasp in pain, followed instantly by the horrible tug – that rope, wrapped tightly around my heart, which connected me to Bella pulled and pulled and pulled. I knew exactly where it was pulling me – down the street, right, left, right, right, straight forward and then left again. A mere 10 minute walk away. I knew she was there; Jasper had told me so.
I pressed my face into the cushion beneath me, gasping and groaning with the pain. It was so hard to breathe.
It was so hard to handle the hurt.
"Fuck!" I bellowed, my anguished exclamation muffled by the fabric and stuffing beneath me. It instantly turned into another sob.
As usual, it surprised me that I could feel any heartache at all, when my heart was so clearly not here. It was a 10 minute walk away, in Jasper and Alice's apartment. It had been there for three days.
It had been our worst fight ever.
Not our first fight by any means – you can't spend four years with someone and never fight.
But this fight... it had been creeping up on us.
I couldn't even remember what started it, but soon we were standing right here, in our living room, shouting and screaming at each other. We'd both been under a lot of stress these past few months, with school and jobs and worries about our futures. All of it was definitely putting a strain on our relationship. We didn't have time to just hang out anymore – there were always other things that needed to be done, whether it be related to school or all the other crap that wasn't us, that wasn't Bella and Edward.
We tried our best to find the time to be with each other, and every now and then we would. But as the year went on, 'Us Time' came with increasing irregularity.
I hated that I saw her so rarely, that the only time we ever really spent together anymore was in bed... sleeping. I hated that we were both so exhausted when we came home to our apartment that we could barely keep our eyes open for more than an hour or two. I hated that we barely spoke to each other anymore.
Something had to give. And three days ago, it did.
We fought about everything; school, work, money, sex... everything we were stressed and upset about was brought into the open with harsh words and a shitload of profanities. We yelled, we screamed, I kicked over a chair...
I still hadn't picked it up.
The last straw was when I brought up Garrett.
Bella worked with Garrett at an English-style pub. I had, oh so casually, told her – accused her, screamed at her, it's all the same – that she spent more time with Garrett than she did with me these days.
It's not that fucking hard to guess where that lead us.
After another good 10 minutes of shouting, I blurt out the stupidest thing I could have possibly said. I didn't even believe it myself, I just wanted to provoke her, inflict even more pain on her in retaliation for all the things she had screamed at me.
I basically asked her if she was cheating on me with him.
I knew she wasn't. Bella would never do that, not in a million years.
But that didn't stop me from fucking saying it.
Another excruciating wave of pain ripped through me as I remembered, once again, the expression on Bella's face after my accusation. During the past three days, I had enjoyed, in a sick masochistic way, bringing that memory to the surface of my mind, tormenting myself again and again.
I fucking deserved the pain, the pure agony of it.
Bella, who would cry almost every time she had any kind of heightened emotion, hadn't let a single tear form in her eyes during our fight.
But at my accusation, the beautiful brown that I loved so much had instantly become clouded by tears, spilling down her cheeks in rapid succession. Bella had almost buckled, a sharp gasp leaving her just as the words had left my mouth.
The pain, the complete anguish that rippled over her face... Fuck, her expression would haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life.
I had instantly regretted saying anything. I didn't believe it, I knew it wasn't true, I knew Bella would never cheat on me. I wanted to take it back – I wanted to grab the words that hung between us and shove them back down my throat, make them disappear and erase that look on her face.
But I couldn't do that. Instead, I had to watch as my beautiful, strong, amazing girl was ripped apart in pain by the man who promised and swore he loved her more than anything.
I was so fucking disgusted by myself.
A deafening silence had settled over us, only broken by my harsh breathing and Bella's gasps as we stared at each other.
I had crossed a line – I knew it, she knew it, and there was nothing I could do. I had hurt her so fucking badly with those words. I had misused the trust she had for me, I had dragged it through fucking dirt with that false accusation.
Seconds, minutes, hours, years passed as Bella's face showed me exactly what I had done. I had questioned her faithfulness and her love for me, and watching her shatter and break was my punishment.
The sob that wrenched from her...
"Fuck!" I screamed into the cushion again, the sound of her sob and the image of her face playing on a endless loop in my mind.
Pain lashed across my heart, over and over again, like a knife slicing through my flesh.
What the fuck had I done? How the hell could I have allowed myself – even in the heat of the moment, as if that some sort of excuse – to hurt my precious Bella like that? I was a complete and utter monster, and all the pain and anguish I was feeling now was no more than I deserved.
She had slapped me. I had let her, and I welcomed the stinging pain.
'Fuck you!' she had screamed at me through her tears, her voice breaking under the strain of her agony. I had nearly fallen to my knees at the sound. It robbed me of all my strength and I watched, helpless and drowning, as she turned on her heel and walked out.
Her sobs had echoed down the stairs as she disappeared.
Three days. And it was all my fault.
The rope tugged me relentlessly, never easing up, never giving me some rest.
I didn't want it to. I didn't deserve a rest from this pain.
All of this was my fault.
I needed to fix it, somehow.
You're running out of time, asshole.
I sat up so quickly that the edges of my vision turned black from the blood rush.
Dread and horror and ice-cold denial coursed through me as those words rang through my mind.
No, no, I couldn't be running out of time! I had to fix this, I had to apologise, I had to... I had to... No! I had to get Bella and I back on track – there simply was no other option. I couldn't fucking live without her! I wasn't running out of time!
It's been three days, asshole.
Holy shit... I was running out of time.
How long had I been planning on lying in my own filth and allowing the pain to lash at me? How long had I been planning on letting Bella wait for me? Jesus fuck, I had been such an idiot!
I couldn't just lie on our couch and let myself drown in misery, cold pizza and beer – I had to fucking fix this!
I flung myself off the couch and scrambled for my phone. With shaking fingers I called the only number that had even bothered trying to reach me in three days.
After two rings, it clicked.
"Jasper, is she there?" I asked frantically, pacing back and forth in our livingroom. Fuck, it was disgusting.
I exhaled in relief, not only because Bella was still there, but because Jasper was smart enough to know that he shouldn't alert anyone to who was on the phone. His voice was casual and calm, slightly bored even.
"Listen, don't tell her this, but I'm coming over soon – I can't-... fuck, I just can't anymore, you know? I need her." My voice was desperate and tinged with anguish.
"Yeah, sounds great," Jasper played along, some muffled shuffling going on in the background. I heard him speak away from the phone. "I have to take this, I'll be right back."
More muffled noises, hurried steps and a door opening and closing.
"Dude, it's about fucking time!" Jasper hissed quietly into the phone once he was safely hidden.
I sighed, nodding my head as if he could see me. "I know. I've been such a fucking dickhead... Please, I need you to kick my ass once this is all over."
"I'll give Emmett a call – he's been dying to get his hands on you ever since he found out what happened."
My chuckle was dark and wry. "I bet. I won't stop you – I fucking deserve it."
There was a short silence of agreement. Then Jasper sighed softly.
"Look, Bella hasn't told us everything that happened – she just said that you guys had gotten into a really bad fight, and a lot of things were said that neither one of you meant, and eventually she had to leave. She hasn't... fuck, Edward, I haven't seen her smile even once since she came here. She won't go outside, she won't talk to anyone but me and Alice – not even her mom... She's fucking miserable, man."
I closed my eyes and swallowed painfully, slowly leaning back against the wall in need of extra support. Bella...
"It's my fault. I said... I said some shit that I definitely didn't mean and that I definitely don't believe, and I crossed a line. God, Jazz, you should have seen her face... I hurt her so fucking bad. I'm so disgusted by myself, I just can't believe I would do that to her!"
I pushed away from the wall, taking up my pacing again in my own frustration with myself. I tugged painfully on my hair, pulling until smarting tears formed in my eyes.
"Edward, you've been lying on the couch beating yourself up over this for three days, haven't you?"
"Yeah..." I sighed. Why would I deny it?
"Bella hates it when you do that," he said honestly, sympathy that I didn't deserve ringing through his voice.
"I know," I answered with a deep sigh. I dropped my hand and gave my scalp a break. "Listen, I have to... fuck, I need to take a shower. I'll be over in a little while." I paused to swallow, freakishly afraid of asking my next question. "Do you think she'll want to talk to me?"
Jasper's pause almost gave me a fucking heart attack, but I exhaled shakily in relief when he answered.
"Yeah, I think so. She's been saying that you two needed to give each other some space, which is why she hasn't contacted you herself... I think she's been waiting for you to maybe make the first move or something."
I nodded. "She's right about waiting. It was all my fault; I stepped over the line, I hurt her... fuck, I should make the first move. Definitely not her."
"Alright, dude. Listen, I have to go back in or they'll get suspicious. Alice and I will give you two some privacy when you come over, ok?"
"No," I protested, "you don't have to do that. We'll take a walk or someth-"
"Edward, shut up. I haven't left the apartment for two days, because Alice is unwilling to leave Bella alone – I want to take a fucking walk, ok? We'll give you some privacy."
A sharp click told me that he hung up on me, ending the discussion swiftly. I sighed, but felt extremely grateful and relieved – I needed to apologise to Bella, and I would need to do it immediately. I didn't want to have to take an awkwardly quiet walk and wait until we found a sufficiently secluded place before I could attempt to do whatever the hell I needed to do to make her realise how sorry I was. I'd do whatever it would take, without hesitation.
I almost felt sick with panic and nervousness when I stood in front of Alice and Jasper's apartment half an hour later. My hair was still slightly damp from my shower and with the amount of times I had dragged my hand through it, it probably looked absolutely fucking insane. At least I didn't smell like shit anymore though.
My heart was lodged in my throat and my stomach had dropped down to my knees. With my internal organs all out of place, I took as deep a breath as I could before raising my fist to knock on the door.
Alice opened the door without a word. She just stood, her penetrating gaze burning holes through me. I stared back, not making any attempts to disguise how miserable I was right now. After a few seconds, Alice's eyes softened and she nodded at me, opening the door wider to let me in.
I gulped nervously, knowing that Bella was there and I would see her for the first time in three days.
Jesus fuck, three days... that's way too long.
"Jasper?" Alice called calmly, her eyes still trained on me. "Let's take a walk."
I nodded gratefully as I heard footsteps nearing. Jasper appeared next to Alice, giving me a small smile of encouragement. I tried to smile back, but I'm pretty sure it was more of a grimace. Jasper inclined his head slightly to his right, giving me a meaningful look. Bella was sitting on their couch and when I entered their apartment, I would see her and she would see me.
I wanted to throw up.
Alice stepped back and grabbed her coat, throwing it on quickly. She cast a quick glance in the direction of the couch, only a second before Bella's sweet voice drifted through the air, piercing me straight through the heart.
Fuck, I had missed her so much.
"Alice? What are you...?"
She sounded exhausted and so incredibly sad; it didn't even sound like she actually cared to know the answer to her question.
Alice looked back at me, motioning with her hand for me to step forward. I attempted a strengthening breath, but my lungs weren't working as they were supposed to, so it was more like a pathetic little gasp. Nonetheless, I managed to make my feet work.
Time seemed to slow down as I stepped forward, my heart pounding in my ears as my head turned in the direction of Bella even before I had rounded the door.
She came into view slowly, sitting on the couch in a pair of sweats and my "Stop looking at me, swan" t-shirt that she had worn three nights ago. Her tiny feet rested on the floor, and I instinctually worried that she might be cold – her feet were always cold, and she would normally wear a pair of thick fuzzy socks when she was home. The socks she wore now where so thin I swore I could almost see through them. Her face was pale, but not her normal pale – it was sallow, devoid of colour completely. Her hair was pulled into a messy ponytail, but it had lost all of its normal shine and volume. Dark rings lined her eyes with fatigue and her lips looked dry and chapped.
My heart stopped for the three dreadful seconds in which Bella's eyes remained dull and lifeless, devoid of that shine I loved so much, as she saw and took me in. Her expression didn't change at all during those three seconds, and I thought I was going to die.
She isn't going to forgive me, she's going to leave me, fuck she doesn't want anything to do with me anymore, holy shit what have I done? Fuck, what am I going to do without her? I can't-... I can't live without her! She can't leave me, oh dear god, please don't let her leave me, I can't... I can't... god, please...
But then her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open as she gasped. My heart started beating painfully fast and hard again and I almost felt like I was going to collapse on the floor. Instead, I simply stopped, rooted to the spot by her gaze.
Our eyes stayed looked and I got completely lost in her. I may have thought I had missed her during these three days, but seeing her now, after so long... it just brought it all home. I hadn't seen or talked to Bella in three days.
Bella, the love of my life, the most important thing in the universe, my heart... How could I have let that happen? We hadn't been apart for this long since the day we met almost five years ago. Even when one of us had to leave for a few days, we at least talked on the phone and texted each other to the point of insanity.
But three days had passed without any sort of contact between us now, and I hadn't realised quite how much of a toll that had been taking on me until my eyes had met hers just seconds ago. The rope around my heart tugged and squeezed harder, urging me to get closer to her, to take her in my arms and fix it all. I refused to even entertain the idea that I wouldn't be able to fix us – that simply wasn't an option.
Bella's eyes never wavered – she trapped me where I stood, the sadness in her brown depths holding me frozen. I barely noticed when Jasper clapped me on the shoulder in a parting gesture.
"Give us a call when you're ready, ok?" he said quietly, not expecting an answer before disappearing from my line of sight. The door closed behind me with a soft click.
The apartment fell eerily silent as Bella and I continued to stare at each other, equal parts pain and sadness radiating from our eyes.
Bella blinked for the first time since our eyes met, cutting off our connection for the briefest of seconds, but that was all it took to break the spell that had surrounded us.
As soon as her eyes opened again, tears formed and overflowed, trailing glistening paths down her cheeks. An agonised sob tore from her chest and her beautiful face showcased the multitude of emotions raging through her – hurt, sadness, remorse and shame, all of which were echoed in me.
The rope tugged me forward, forcing my frozen limbs to move. I didn't break eye contact with her as I crossed the room; I held her tear-filled gaze, each tear and each sob that broke from her lashing into me painfully; I didn't want her to cry – I hated when she cried, because I couldn't stand for her to be in pain.
The sight of her, sitting there looking so heartbroken and hurt, both seeing and hearing the evidence of what I had done to her... it suddenly became too much. My own face twisted into a mask of pain as tears blurred my vision, and with one last shuffled step I was standing directly in front of her.
All my energy left me, and with a sob I fell to my knees, grabbing at her just as she caught me. We both gasped as the tingling electrical surge coursed through us when we touched. Fuck, I had missed that surge.
I fell forward, clutching at her waist as I buried my face in her lap, an agonised cry leaving me as her scent welcomed me home.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... I'm so sorry, love, please... please, I'm so sorry..." I wept into her, huge heaving gasps accompanying my pleading as I revelled in her closeness. The tugging and squeezing of my heart finally eased up and the pain of being separated from her slowly but surely started dissipating, but I couldn't relax yet. I didn't know if she would forgive me, so I did the only thing I could do at that moment; I continued to beg.
"Edward..." Bella cried, grasping my shirt covered back desperately as she pulled me closer, bending over me and tugging, always tugging. "Edward..."
She continued to sob my name as I pleaded into her lap, all of the hurt and pain from the last three days pouring out of us with our tears. I felt hers hitting my back and soaking through my shirt as they dripped off her beautiful face, making me clutch her tighter. I wound my arms completely around her waist, pulling her to me desperately. I couldn't let her go; I needed to hold her, I needed to finally feel her under my hands again. If she decided to not forgive me, I would take everything I could now while she would still let me.
"Baby, please... I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it... I'm so sorry, Bella, please...!" I sobbed, my words muffled against her but I didn't care. I knew she could hear me and the utter desperation in my voice, and I hoped that would be enough.
"Edward, I'm sorry! I- I didn't.... I'm so so-rry! Edward, please, oh god, please..." Bella cried hysterically, pulling at me harder as if attempting to fuse us together. I took some small relief from this – at least she wasn't pushing me away, and that could only mean good things for me.
I raised my head from her lap, instantly moving my arms from around her waist to cup her face. She did the same to me, leaning in to press our foreheads together as we cried. I gasped for breath in between my sobs, Bella's scent permeating the air around me and helping me calm down. Bella's scent was all her, and I was holding her in my arms and she wasn't pushing me away. Thank god.
"Edward, please... please, please... oh god, please don't leave me, please...!" Bella cried harder, her fingers digging into my scalp in pure desperation. I felt cold and clammy as I took in her words – she sounded absolutely terrified as she begged me not to leave her.
She thought I was...?
"Bella, I will never leave you! Never... I'm so sorry, love, please... please..." I swore, frantically clutching her to me.
"Yo-you promise?" Bella gasped in between her sobs, still sounding scared beyond belief.
"I promise – I can't leave you. I love you, so much. Fuck, I love you.. I love you, I'm so sorry..." I vowed, ignoring the tears that continued to fall from my eyes. "Bella, please, say you'll forgive me... I need you, baby, please..."
"Of-of course, Ed-Edward," she hiccupped, her tone suggesting I was stupid for even making such a request when the answer was so obvious. I sobbed in relief, closing my eyes against the onslaught of emotions raging through me. The most prominent one was relief – bone-deep relief that robbed me of all the air in my lungs.
"Will yo-you forg-give me?" Bella sobbed, making me open my eyes in surprise. Her eyes were bloodshot and swollen from her tears, but the pleading look of fear broke my heart. She honestly thought I might not forgive her. Though I didn't know what she was apologising for – I had deserved everything that she screamed and yelled at me.
"There's nothing to forgive, love," I promised her, my voice quiet and soft as I tried to gain control of my tears and calm down. I was still gasping for breath, but with each inhale her glorious scent swirled through my lungs, reassuring me that she was actually here and that she had forgiven me.
But she pulled back just a fraction at my words, looking devastated. I frowned in confusion as her hand slowly traced my cheek.
Fresh tears clouded her eyes. "But I slapped you..." she whispered, sounding as if that was the worst sacrilege in the world.
Despite the situation, a humourless chuckle left me, sounding sort of wet from my residual tears. "I deserved it, love."
Bella shook her head and frowned, but I stopped her before she could speak.
"I never should have said that crap about Garrett. I know it isn't true, I've never believed or even thought that, not for one second. I don't know-... well, I do know why I said it, and that's why I deserved that slap." I groaned and sighed, feeling completely fucking revolted by myself again. "I said it to deliberately hurt you, Bella... And you shouldn't forgive me for that."
She just shook her head. "I know why you said it... and it did hurt, but I know you didn't mean it. I could see it in your face... as soon as the words left your mouth, I could see how you regretted them. I should... I shouldn't have slapped you and run away from that. I- I should have stayed and wo-worked through it-"
"Love – don't; please? You did nothing wrong. I think we... we needed some space, some time to really regret everything we said. We needed to really miss each other to help us realise what a stupid fight it was... how everything that we fought about isn't as important as this," I gestured back and forth between us, meaning the bond that connected us.
I looked into her eyes, wiping away the tears from her cheeks. A gentle smile formed on my lips as I once again felt her soft skin under my fingers. "Have you realised that all the things that have been taking up so much of our time lately have been really easy to ignore and get out of during these past three days?"
I had blown off my classes the day after the fight and called in sick to work, to allow me to fully wallow in my self-disgust and pain. It was amazing how unimportant all those things became without Bella. Everything paled in comparison to her.
"Yeah, I know," she murmured softly, a tiny smile playing along her lips. She studied my face in silence for a while, her gaze sweeping over me lovingly. I relaxed into her, feeling completely overwhelmed and exhausted with relief at having her near me again.
Bella's eyes met mine after a while. "Edward?"
"Let's make sure this is the worst fight we ever have... nothing can get worse than this. If we-... when we fight again, let's just remember how fucking miserable we've been during these three days, and use that as a reminder of what will happen if we run away from our fights instead of talking to each other."
I smiled softly. "I think that sounds like a fucking excellent idea."
"Good," she whispered gently. She cupped my face again and leaned forward, closing her eyes just as I let mine slide shut.
I shivered as her soft lips met mine – my body had missed her touch so much and every cell in me trembled with recognition as she kissed me. I vowed that I would never again deprive myself of her touch if I could help it.
Her gentle kiss was laced with forgiveness and I drank it down greedily. Her acquittal of my blame felt like a balm against the wounds I had inflicted on myself during our time apart. The world slowly righted itself as I held her in my arms, and I understood, now more than ever, how much I truly needed her.
If I had thought I couldn't function without her before, it was nothing compared to what I now knew to be true. And it was in that moment, as Bella kiss showered me in forgiveness and love, that I knew exactly what I was going to do. I was ready for the next step; there was no point in waiting anymore.
Oddly enough, my realisation didn't make me nervous or scared – I just became... excited, but calm at the same time. Excited because I needed Bella to live, and I was going to make sure I always had her by my side. Calm because it felt good to finally have decided that I was really going to do this.
She slowly pulled away as a plan started formulating in my mind, looking at me with her eyes swimming with love, relief and joy – she looked exactly like I felt.
"So we're good?" she asked, grinning at me as she twisted my hair around her fingers.
I grinned back, nodding. "We're good."
Bella heaved a huge sigh, smiling as she exhaled in relief. She leaned in again, hugging me tightly with her arms wrapped around my shoulders.
"I missed you so much," she murmured into my neck as I pressed myself closer to her. She opened her legs for me and I pulled her to the edge of the couch, her thighs cradling my ribs.
I nuzzled my face into the crook of her shoulder, placing a soft kiss there. "I missed you too... fuck, so much, baby. I'm sorry for everything I said, and I'm sorry for not... for not coming back to you sooner. It will never happen again, I promise." I drew in a slow breath, revelling in her scent swirling through my lungs. "I've been so fucking miserable without you. I just spent all my time on the couch, hating myself." I shook my head against her. "Our apartment is fucking disgusting by the way, thanks to yours truly," I added as an afterthought.
A thrill went through me at the sound of her giggle – it almost felt like I was experiencing everything that I loved about Bella for the first time again. I had a newfound appreciation for all the little things that made her up.
"I'm kinda gross too, actually," she laughed. She squeezed me tighter. "How about we go home? I could use a shower and some fresh clothes."
I chuckled and shook my head. "You are not gross, love, and if we go home, you are not putting clothes on..."
I pressed an open-mouthed kiss against her neck, to strengthen the message behind my words. I'd be damned if we weren't going to have the most awesome 'make up sex' ever once I got her back to our apartment.
Bella let out a delighted purr, turning her head a little to speak directly into my ear. "Well, I'd still like a shower... maybe you could join me?"
I pulled my head back to look at her, loving the lusty glint in her eyes. I had really missed that. I then realised that not only was this going to be awesome make up sex, but it was also going to be the first time we had sex in almost a week. That was one of the things we had fought about – how our otherwise overtly active sex-life had taken a severe toll during these past few months.
I had a feeling that aspect of our lives was going to revert to normal in no time.
I leaned in and kissed her, pouring passion and longing into it. I was going to show her just how much I loved her, adored her, worshiped her, and just how sorry I was about this whole mess – the time leading up to the fight included.
Five minutes later we were ready to leave; I had called Jasper and let him and Alice know their apartment was once again empty before we started the short trek home.
As we walked, tightly wrapped around each other, I thought about how easy our reunion had been. I knew it was because we had known each other for five years – there was no one who knew me better than Bella, and there simply weren't a lot of words needed between us for things like this. Bella knew me, I knew her, and it was easy for us to acknowledge what had gone wrong and why we reacted and behaved the way we did.
We were also both mature enough to understand not only the others mistakes during these past months, but our own too. There was no desire in either one of us to hold a grudge or have the final word – fighting with each other simply wasn't in us. I understood her reasons and reactions, just as she understood mine, and that was it. Nothing more needed to be said on the matter.
In the end, I knew that this experience would only make us stronger. It showed us exactly what would happen when we let outside forces take too much control in our lives, ensuring that we never let it happen again.
However, that wasn't the only good thing that had come out of it. I smiled to myself as my plan continued to formulate in my mind. It was surprising how quickly it all came to me, but who was I to complain when it would mean that Bella would be forever tied to me and I to her?
"Edward, come on – I don't like this anymore."
The asshat only chuckled, obviously finding my complaining really fucking amusing.
"Can't you just be patient, Bella? I promise, you'll find out in just a few minutes."
I seethed, crossing my arms angrily as I cursed the stupid blindfold he had basically forced me to wear.
'It won't be a surprise if you can see where we're going', his argument had been. Personally, I thought his stupid argument was beyond flawed, but he wouldn't listen to me.
So, despite my better judgement, I had allowed him to blindfold me and place me in his car, and we had now been driving around for what felt like an hour.
It was probably less, but I was annoyed and so I enjoyed my exaggerations.
"I already know this has something to do with our anniversary, and I know it is definitely not what we had planned together." I seethed the last part at him, fully displaying my irritation with this crap. "So, I really think you should stop being such a douche and tell me what's going on!"
He actually giggled.
"No, I'm romantic and adorable, and you'll agree when you find out what's going on in just a few minutes."
I growled, childishly choosing to ignore him until he stopped with all the secrets and surprises.
Finally, the car came to a full stop, and Edward turned off the engine. I sighed in relief as I felt his hands at my head, untying the fucking blindfold. I blinked against the sudden light as it fell away, trying to adjust my blurry eyesight so I could see where we were.
A parking building. Excellent.
"We're at the airport."
My head whipped around to find Edward looking at me, an amused glint in his eyes and a mischievous smile on his lips. My jaw dropped in astonishment.
"We're taking a trip – five days, just you and me. I've already talked to your boss, so don't freak out about that; everything's taken care of. Alice helped me pack, so I'm sure your entire closet is skilfully folded into your suitcase, ensuring that you have a lot to choose from. She was thrilled that I asked her."
His face split into a wide grin as I still didn't say anything. I was way too shocked for words.
He opened his door and came around to my side, helping me out of the car. He pressed a kiss to my stunned lips, chuckling to himself as he extracted our luggage from the boot.
I grabbed my suitcase and rolled it behind me in a bit of a daze as Edward led me out of the building. He smiled down at me.
"I- I guess that depends on where we are going," I answered, still trying to make my brain come to terms with the fact that Edward had secretly planned a five-day trip for our anniversary that required flying.
It sure as hell beat the plan we had made together to go out to a fancy restaurant.
Edward didn't say anything in response to my words; he only grinned, clearly overjoyed and smug about my reaction.
I felt my annoyance rapidly fall away to give way for curiosity and excitement. I wanted to know where we were going, and I wanted to know now.
He led me up to the check-in and stopped. I looked around eagerly, trying to figure out our destination.
"Want me to tell you?" Edward asked, practically jumping with excitement, bouncing on the soles of his feet. I could tell that he had been dying to let me know about this, but he had been so good at hiding it. I really hadn't seen a single sign that he might have something up his sleeves.
"Please," I grinned, biting my lip as I waited for his answer.
Edward took a theatrically deep breath and made a dramatic pause before grinning. "Edinburgh."
I gasped and stared at him.
I then shrieked – yes, shrieked in a crowded airport with lots and lots of people around us – and flung myself at him. He laughed as he caught me, wrapping his arms around my waist as I crushed myself against him.
"Awesome surprise, awesome surprise, awesome surprise!"
He laughed louder, burying his face in my neck. I squealed in excitement, and I couldn't stop myself from bouncing a few times in his arms. I pulled back a little and grabbed his adorable face, crashing my lips against his in an exuberant kiss.
A thought struck me that momentarily hit the 'Pause' button on my excitement, and I pulled back an inch to look at him.
"We're staying at the townhouse, right?"
Edward scoffed. "Obviously. What, you think I'm going to pay for a hotel room when we have an entire house there?"
"Oh, thank god!" I giggled, pulling him down to me so I could kiss him again. I almost wanted to pet him on the head and coo a series of 'good boyfriend! Yes, you are – yes, you are!' but I didn't think he would appreciate that very much. "I love you!"
"I love you too, baby," he chuckled, kissing me quickly one last time before letting me go and whisking me away through the airport.
My excitement only kept building and building, all through the wait and then the flight itself. As we landed in London for the next short leg of our journey, I felt like I was going to explode. When Edward then informed me that we were going to fly down to London one day early on our way back, so we could spend some time there too, I couldn't contain myself any longer.
Suffice to say, I knocked over my drink and hurt my hand a little. Edward only seemed to find it funny though, and I was way too happy to let something as inconsequential as a smarting knuckle or two ruin my mood.
I couldn't keep my hands off of Edward for more than a minute all throughout our flights. I constantly had this urge to touch him, even if it was as simple as holding his hand as we watched a movie, or resting my head on his shoulder as we slept during the flight between London and Edinburgh.
As we stepped into the Edinburgh airport and made our way to the baggage claim, it dawned on me that it was our anniversary now – it was well past midnight here, and today it had been five years since Edward told me he liked me, consequently opening my eyes as to how I felt about him, and he was now taking us back to the place where our relationship began; to the root of us.
He'd been right – this was totally romantic and adorable.
I slipped my arm through Edward's and pressed myself as close to him as I could. I waited for him to look down at me before speaking.
"Happy anniversary, baby," I said quietly, smiling at the love of my life standing beside me.
Edward smiled back, leaning down to kiss me softly. "Happy anniversary, love."
We arrived at the townhouse not long after that. It was emotional, being back – it brought back so many memories and my heart felt overloaded with sensations and emotions. I struggled to suppress tears as we walked in through the door.
It looked the same, only different – Esme and Carlisle had been here the year before, and she had happily redecorated the place. It still smelled the same though, and it still felt the same, and I had a little breakdown in the hallway.
Happy tears were spilt as the memories surged through me; making dinner with Edward, watching movies with Edward, realising I was in love with him, kissing him for the first time, holding him, making love to him, standing together in the kitchen as he told everyone about our relationship... so much had happened during those few days we had spent in this house, and being back here now felt surreal.
There were so many emotions involved that I couldn't even begin to sort them out – the bottom line was that every inch of this house reminded me of our beginning, and I could remember so vividly the feel of my love for him then. It was so young, so fresh and eager. It was different from how I loved him now; as time passed, our love had grown stronger, more intense and all consuming, something I had believed to be impossible five years ago.
As I stood there, wrapped in Edward's arms, the remembered feel of my love for him then came back full-force and mingled with my love for him now. I let out a gasping sob at the intensity of my emotions, and I clung to Edward desperately as I fought not to drown in the onslaught of my feelings.
He didn't question my actions; he only held me tighter, wrapping himself around me protectively and keeping me grounded with him.
I pulled my head back from his chest, needing his green eyes to look into mine and centre me, to lock me firmly down on earth before my heart exploded with love.
He caressed my cheek wordlessly as I drank in his calmness, taking lungful after lungful of his scent greedily. I had soon tampered down my emotions to a level I could handle, feeling my heart and mind slowly getting over the shock of the elevation of my love for Edward. Was it really possible that I loved him more now than I did just a minute ago? It seemed unreal, and almost physically impossible, but I couldn't deny the evidence for it. I almost wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, because surely you couldn't love someone this much without exploding.
Still without uttering a word or raising a questionable eyebrow, Edward brushed a kiss against my forehead, before leading me down to his-... no, to our bedroom.
We got ready for bed in silence; I suspected that Edward was feeling a little overwhelmed himself, and he'd had more time to get used to the idea of being back here than I had. I suddenly felt completely exhausted from all the excitement and rush of emotions, and I nearly dropped my toothbrush in the sink as my arms abruptly turned to lead.
We crawled into bed, and the second we were comfortably wrapped around each other, sleep washed over us in waves, claiming us both instantly.
Edward woke me up several hours later with breakfast in bed, which set a wonderful tone to the rest of the day.
We spent it walking around Edinburgh, visiting some of the places we had been before, and also taking the opportunity to see things we didn't get a chance to see last time.
I couldn't resist taking Edward to the Ann Summers store Alice, Rosalie and I had shopped in. I remembered vividly how, to celebrate our one month anniversary, I had worn the lingerie I'd bought there. Edward's reaction had been priceless, and since then I had been the lucky receiver of a number of beautiful bras and panties throughout our five years together.
We had dinner at the same restaurant where we had celebrated Edward and Jasper's birthday – I didn't order the steak this time, knowing that I couldn't possibly eat it all without putting myself in a food coma.
There was no way I was going to miss out on anniversary-sex, no matter how awesome the steaks were.
Throughout the day, I started to wonder if Edward didn't have something extra planned that he was trying to keep secret – he was just a little fidgety and somewhat distracted from time to time; that sort of behaviour was very unlike him.
My suspicions were proven correct when we came back to the townhouse. He stopped me at the foot of the stairs, suddenly looking more than a little nervous.
He ran his hand through his hair a few times, gulping. "Uhm, baby, can you just... give me a minute?"
"For what?" I asked, frowning in confusion.
He cracked a smile. "Just wait here for like... two minutes? Then come in?" He gestured vaguely to our bedroom.
"One minute, two minutes – you need to make up your mind, dude," I teased him, watching another smile light up his features.
"Two minutes," he repeated, waiting for my affirmative nod before hurrying off to our bedroom and closing the door behind him.
I kept a close eye on the time, anxious to see what he was up to. I heard his muffled steps now and again, but not much else gave me any indication as to what he had up his sleeve.
Exactly two minutes later, I knocked on the door.
"Come in," Edward called softly, and I slowly turned the handle.
I gasped as the room came into view. Lit candles were placed sporadically about the room, casting a flickering, warm glow – they provided the only source of light. I saw an ice-bucket with a bottle of champagne chilling and two glasses tucked away in the corner, a bowl of enormous strawberries beside them.
However, the room could only hold my attention for three seconds – once my eyes flittered over to Edward, he was the only thing I could focus on.
He was standing by the window, a beautiful smile gracing his lips. The light from the candles made him look breathtaking, the flickering glow playing over his skin perfectly.
Wordlessly, his smile widened a little as he met my eyes and he raised his arm, holding his hand out to me.
Without hesitation, I walked up to him, taking his hand in mine and entwining our fingers.
"Edward..." I breathed in awe, making his eyes crinkle as he grinned.
"Do you like it?" he asked, squeezing my fingers.
"I love it, are you kidding?" I answered, shaking my head at him.
He chuckled and bent down to place a gentle kiss on my lips. He pulled away before I could deepen it, but before I could display my discontent at this, he started speaking.
"Remember how I was sitting here in the window when you came back that night?" he asked softly, clearly thinking about the night our relationship started.
I nodded; of course I remembered. He had looked so devastated and broken, resting his elbows on his knees and cupping his head in his hands, staring at the floor.
"I was just sitting there, completely miserable and hating myself for having ruined what we had. I just kept thinking... 'you idiot, look what you did – she's not even going to want to be your friend anymore. You've ruined everything'... " Edward shook his head, chuckling a little. "You have no idea how hard and fast my heart started beating when you came back."
He looked down at our clasped hands for a few seconds before lifting his gaze back to mine. "And you told me, 'I trust you' over and over again. I thought I must be dreaming or something, making shit up as a defence mechanism." He spoke softly, the tone of his voice corresponding perfectly with the feel of the moment.
"I was already so in love with you then... not having you in my life would have killed me. I couldn't believe my luck when you came back, but I wasn't going to question it. I loved you, and needed you so much, even then."
I blinked furiously, trying to discourage my eyes from watering. Edward smiled gently at me.
"If someone had told me that as time passed, I would only love you and need you more and more, I would have called them a liar, because I didn't think it was even possible for one person to feel that much love. But of course, I would have been proven wrong. Bella, during the five years we have spent together, you have taught me so much about being a better person; you have shown me how to become the kind of man you deserve, the kind of man who would be worthy of standing by your side and call you his."
I swallowed back my tears, wanting to make my mouth work so that I could tell him all the things he had done for me in return, but no words would come out.
"You are my heart, my life, my soul... you're my everything. It's impossible for me to even think of an existence without you; I need you to be able to live, Bella. You're the most important thing to me – you're my best friend, my support, my lover, my reason. You are my other half, and I can't function without you by my side."
The love shining out of his eyes as he looked at me, and the complete honesty that rang in his voice as he spoke made my heart beat erratically. Two tears welled up and rolled silently down my cheeks.
"Bella..." Edward took a deep breath, raising his free hand and placing it on my arm. He let it glide along my skin, pulling my other hand up and grasping it tightly in his. He swallowed as he looked searchingly at me, releasing his breath slowly. "Five years ago, our relationship took a huge step forward in this very spot. Tonight, I'm hoping it will happen again."
I suddenly started feeling lightheaded and nervous as I, for the first time, wondered where Edward was going with his speech and romantic actions. My heart thudded loudly in my chest. He brought my hands up to his mouth, placing reverent kisses on both before releasing them. I stared at him, wide-eyed and speechless.
With a small smile, Edward sank down on one knee.
I gasped, raising a suddenly shaking hand in front of my mouth. My vision blurred as tears formed unbidden and I blinked frantically to clear them. I had to see Edward clearly.
I drew in short, gasping breaths as Edward reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a small box covered in dark blue velvet. My eyes flickered back and forth between the box and the green of his eyes, shining now with equal parts nervousness and excitement.
"Bella..." he began, "I love you more than life itself. I can't imagine a single day without you by my side. I want to build a future with you – I want us so share our life together. I promise to love you every single day of forever." He took a deep breath and, holding my gaze, slowly opened the little box. Nestled in the white, shiny fabric, sat the most beautiful, perfect ring. I stopped breathing. "Bella... will you marry me?"
It took me a few seconds to unfreeze my body, and as I drew in a shuddering breath, I started nodding furiously.
"Ye-yes!" I sobbed, tears streaming down my cheeks without an end in sight. "Yes! Yes, yes, yes..." I sobbed almost soundlessly as Edward's face split into a wide grin, relief and joy radiating from his entire body. He exhaled in a series of soundless, relieved chuckles, his shoulders relaxing gradually.
I was shaking like an asp leaf as he gently removed the ring from its white nest, closing the box with a snap and returning it to his pocket.
He took my left hand and after a quick glance into my eyes, slid the ring slowly onto my finger. A mix between a sob and a cry tore from me in my happiness, and Edward immediately got to his feet. As he rose, he smoothly cupped my face and crashed his lips to mine, kissing me exuberantly.
His relief was so evident in the movements of his lips; his joy so palpable in his touch. I moaned and cried into his mouth, throwing my shaking arms around him as I kissed him back with everything I had.
Edward clutched me to him, groaning happily as our tongues met and twirled and as our hands caressed and explored. I pressed myself to him, desperately trying to release the millions of bubbles of joy coursing through my entire body. I simply couldn't contain that much happiness without collapsing – it needed an outlet.
I was going to be his wife.
An exuberant laugh erupted from me, and I clutched Edward's face in my hands as I broke our kiss.
"I love you! I love you, god, I love you so much...!" I laughed and sobbed, ignoring the tears rolling down my face.
Edward started laughing too, his nervous tension and anxiety falling away from him by the second. He looked so relieved, as if he had honestly thought I might say no.
"You're going to be my wife," he echoed my thoughts, elation weaving through his voice and making it more beautiful than ever. He laughed as he repeated it. "You're going to be my wife!"
"I'm going to be your wife," I reinforced, sniffing and wiping the tears hanging from my chin away impatiently.
I pulled him down to me and showered him in kisses, groaning, moaning, sobbing and laughing throughout. I couldn't remember a time when I had been happier than I was at that very moment.
He wanted to keep me by his side forever. He wanted to share his life with me, have kids with me, grow old with me.
I was going to be his wife.
Edward crushed me to him in a hug so tight I almost couldn't breathe. I didn't care – I hugged him back just as tightly, clawing at his back to bring him closer.
"I love you, Bella. With all my heart, I love you."
"I love you too, so much! Oh god, Edward... I-I'm so happy!"
He suddenly picked me up and carried me over to the bed, gently setting me down on it. With a small smile, he hurried over to the champagne chilling in its bucket. I shrieked and laughed as he popped the cork, the bang echoing around the room as he quickly filled our glasses with the golden liquid. He handed me a glass before going back to get the bowl of strawberries. I giggled as he sat down next to me, grabbing one of the lusciously red and juicy berries.
Edward watched me unashamedly as I bit into it, and I purposefully formed my lips around it as seductively as possible.
We raised our glasses with identical grins, a buzzing sense of joy vibrating through the emotional bond we shared. I sipped the bubbly drink slowly, keeping my eyes locked with his. When he lowered his glass, I leaned in and kissed him gently, tasting Edward and champagne. It was delicious.
His fingers softly grasped my left hand, his thumb stroking over my ring. I looked down at it with a smile, raising my hand to get a better look.
"Do you like it?" Edward asked quietly, a hint of nervousness coming through.
"I love it," I whispered, directing my gaze to him and smiling reassuringly. "It's perfect, Edward." Then, because I simply couldn't contain it, I did a bouncing little shimmy, squealing just little. "God, I am so happy!"
Edward laughed, his eyes glinting in the candle light. "Fuck, me too. Do you have any idea how hard it has been, waiting for this day?"
I shook my head. "When did you...?"
"Know?" I nodded, and he grinned at me. "After our fight, when I came over to Alice and Jasper's apartment to see if you would forgive me."
As I raised my eyebrows at this, he chuckled and shrugged. "Being away from you those three days, utterly fucking miserable and pathetic... it just made me realise that I can't live without you. I need you and want you in my life, always. And I knew that if we could get through a fight like that, and come out even stronger because of it, we can handle anything, as long as we're together. That's when I knew that I didn't want to wait any longer – I didn't need to. I was more than ready to ask you to-... to be my wife."
He whispered the last part reverently, stroking the ring with his thumb. I leaned in and kissed him again, slowly melding my lips to his and pouring all my love into the action.
The champagne was left unconsumed in our glasses, bubbling and sparkling away on the bedside table. The bowl of strawberries was distractedly placed on the floor, soon to be forgotten until morning.
Our clothes were shed with loving, gentle hands – Edward removed every single object from my body, except for his ring, with adoration and reverence. I undressed him with awe and amazement colouring my movements.
That night, as we made love for hours, we shed our old titles and embraced our new ones. I touched, kissed, held and caressed my fiancé with all the love I had for him, in the very same room where our journey began; in the root of us. Nothing had ever felt more right.
"Five minutes, Bella!" Alice squealed as she entered the guestroom, aka Bella's Magical Bridal Wonderland.
Yeah, that was all Alice, I really had nothing to do with it.
I looked up at her reflection in the mirror as I sat patiently, or really fucking impatiently, whatever, and waited. Rose stepped back from behind me after fiddling with my hair one final time, allowing Alice to take up the space.
"This will be perfect, Bella," Alice assured me, carefully attaching the swan charm necklace Edward bought me five years ago outside of Edinburgh around my neck. I fingered it reverently, continuing with my slow and even breathing-exercise.
"Is everything ready downstairs?" I couldn't help but ask for the 15th time today, looking for answers from both Rose and Alice. Logically, I knew that anything that needed fixing wouldn't have been left until five minutes before the ceremony, but if you can't be illogical on your wedding day, when can you?
Alice nodded with a small, indulgent smile on her face. "Yes, everything is perfect." She rested her tiny hands on my shoulders, squeezing me reassuringly. "I caught sight of Edward, by the way – he looks amazing."
My breathing hitched and I smiled widely. "Really?" I asked in a hopeful squeak, biting down on my lip. God, I wanted to see him; Alice had helped him pick out his suit, so I was sure he would look incredible, but more than that, I wanted to see him in the few, final minutes before he went from being my fiancé to being my husband.
My heart reacted wildly to that, and I placed my hand on my chest, willing it to calm down. Rose snickered knowingly beside me, bending down to apply a final coat of lip gloss to herself.
"Alright, let's get those shoes on, Bella," Alice ordered cheerfully, patting my shoulders in encouragement. I had specifically requested that the shoes were left off for as long as possible; no point in torturing my feet longer than necessary, but apparently it couldn't be put off longer than this.
Butterflies attacked my stomach violently as I stood up, making me emit a high-pitched squeak. I splayed my hand over my midriff as I looked over at Rose and Alice in panic.
"Bella, breathe," Rose reminded me, holding my gaze calmly, using her hands to gesture the actions required to suck air into my lungs and then releasing it. She breathed with me as Alice retrieved my shoes, ducking down to place them on my feet.
I was so fucking nervous, and so excited and so happy, but most of all I was nervous. Not in the 'cold feet' kind of way, but more in the oh-my-god-what-if-I-fall-down-the-stairs-or-say-the-wrong-thing-during-the-ceremony-and-ruin-my-whole-wedding kind of way. It was exhausting.
"Ok, we're all done," Rose confirmed after Alice popped back up beside us.
She smoothed out my dress a little, adjusting it here and there. I looked over to the full-size mirror standing propped up against the wall, taking in the full effect.
My dress was beautiful in its simplicity – the ivory fabric flowed gently around me as I moved and the low v-neck in all honesty made my boobs look fantastic. The only real embellishment was the intricate and fairly large clasp directly under my cleavage, and I gently ran my hands over it as Rose and Alice dithered about getting the bouquets and finding Charlie.
I took one last, long look in the mirror, enjoying the vision of myself as the lucky bride about to marry Edward Cullen. I admired Rose's handiwork with the loose French twist she'd coerced my hair into, and I almost wanted to kiss Alice as I once again felt all the smooth skin the lovely ladies at the spa had given me this morning.
There was a soft knock at the door and Charlie poked his head inside. He looked a little unsure if he was allowed to come in, and I couldn't help but smile at the sight of his hesitance. Alice waved him in, hurrying back and forth across the room to pick up all our things.
Charlie came towards me slowly, looking slightly dazed as his eyes moved over me.
"Bells, you look... so beautiful," he admired as he stepped closer. I swallowed past the sudden lump in my throat and smiled wider at him.
"Thanks, dad," I whispered, not trusting my voice for more than that.
Suddenly, my bouquet was thrust into my hand, and a steady pair of arms grabbed me and ushered me out of the room.
I gasped for air as I heard the mumblings of people talking downstairs in the Cullen's livingroom, their voices mixed together with the soft strings of music floating up to us.
"Holy shit... holy shit, holy shit, holy shit..." I started mumbling, suddenly very close to losing my shit. I was getting married for fuck's sake!
"Bella, uhm... calm down, honey," Charlie attempted to comfort me, gently taking my arm and threading it through his. I noticed that his hand was shaking just as much as mine was as he placed it in the crook of his elbow, holding me steady.
"Ok, Bella – you ready?" Rose grinned, only laughing when I shook my head mutely.
"You'll be fine, Bella. Edward is down there, and he's waiting for you, alright?" Alice comforted me in an uncharacteristically quiet and soft voice. I looked at her, drinking in the calm and un-panicky atmosphere she was radiating as I tried to stop hyperventilating.
"Yes. Edward. Right. Ok. Edward. Good."
Alice snorted attractively at my sudden inability to form sentences. "You'll be fine, Bella."
Rose cleared her throat. "It's time."
I fought very hard not to throw up.
Charlie, Rose and Alice all helped usher me towards the stairs. I allowed them to guide me, suffering from a slight out-of-body experience.
At the top of the stairs, Rose turned and kissed me on the forehead. "You look beautiful, Bella. Edward is a very lucky man."
Then, with a final smile, she began her descent down the stairs.
I swallowed hard as I watched her sweep down elegantly. Alice gave my arm a quick squeeze, drawing my attention to her. She smiled happily at me, but refrained from using words.
When Rose was halfway down the stairs, Alice followed suit, gracefully walking down in time with the flowing notes of the piano.
"You ready, Bells?" Charlie asked me quietly as we watched Alice fulfil her bridesmaid duties. He held my hand firmly, stopping its shaking.
"Yes," I answered simply in a whisper.
We followed Alice with our eyes until she reached the bottom of the stairs. The music effortlessly swelled and changed, announcing my cue.
"We're up," Charlie joked, before stepping forward, supporting me proudly. I tried my hardest to walk in time with the music, but it was really difficult and I was sure I looked like a complete spaz, but I reasoned that it was my wedding, and I could do pretty much whatever the fuck I wanted.
Nevertheless, I breathed a sigh of relief as we made it to the bottom of the stairs in one piece, with no stumbles to speak of. Charlie turned me to the right, leading me up to the aisle created between the white chairs placed beautifully in the Cullen's livingroom.
My eyes landed on Edward, standing at end of my walk, Emmett and Jasper flanking him to the side. Our eyes met, and suddenly everything else just melted away.
Everyone else probably thought I blushed from the little gasps and appreciative whispers that rose from our guests as I came into view. In reality, I blushed after Edward's mouth dropped open as he saw me; his eyes raked over my body, taking me in, and I had never felt more beautiful in my entire life. He looked almost lost for words as our eyes met again, but it took mere seconds before his face lit up with the most stunning grin I had ever seen on him.
He exhaled unsteadily as he watched me walking towards him, his entire being radiating nothing but happiness and excitement. It was incredibly contagious, and I felt my own lips spread into a wide smile. I suddenly couldn't wait until I reached the end of the aisle.
Finally, finally, Charlie came to a stop, taking my now steady hand from the crook of his elbow. I turned to my father, with a smile that was meant just for him, as he leaned in and kissed my forehead lovingly.
Like a magnetic pull, my attention and eyes were then drawn to Edward as he stepped forward. He nodded at Charlie as my father placed my hand in Edward's, and I gripped it tightly. I hadn't seen him all day.
He looked so amazing – everything from the shoes on his feet to the stylish mess of his hair was perfect.
We took a few seconds to just look at each other, smiling and breathing in unison. My stomach fluttered excitedly. This man was going to become my husband in just a few minutes.
The music came to a soft stop and as the final notes rang out, Edward lead me over to the justice of the peace. I handed my bouquet over to Rose before placing both my hands in Edward's care. Our tingling bond erupted in pleasurable shivers, and I squeezed his fingers tightly, just as he did the same.
Our vows were simple and honest; they were everything we had already promised each other during our private moments throughout the years. My voice was strong and sure as I made my vows, sliding Edward's ring onto his finger. His was soft and so full of love I almost broke down in tears as he did the same.
Edward's eyes sparkled and shone, his gaze burning intensely into mine throughout the ceremony. I wouldn't have been able to look away even if I had wanted to. A joy that seemed to echo my own erupted behind the beautiful green of his eyes as we were declared husband and wife. He caught the solitary tear that escaped the corner of my eye as he leaned in to kiss me.
His lips met mine, and I was officially kissing my husband. His lips were soft but firm, warm and tasting only of him as they moved with mine. I was dimly aware of noises starting up – music, the guests? – but it all took a backseat to our first kiss as Mr. and Mrs. Cullen.
I heard a camera flashing nearby, and a few seconds later we broke apart. My surroundings came surging back to me, and I was suddenly surrounded by noises and sights. I blinked and laughed as I became aware of everything around us again.
Edward laughed with me, caressing my cheek.
"You look beautiful, Bella," he whispered, securing a few more seconds of just us before we were taken over by well-wishers and guests.
"It's all for you," I promised him. "I love you."
"I love you too," he replied, kissing me again before releasing me, save for my left hand, and turning me to face the crowd.
A little while later, as Edward and I greeted our guests, I was grateful for our small, intimate wedding. Neither one of us were overtly attracted to the idea of doing anything too grand and complicated – we wanted it to be about us, our love and our commitment. We didn't need a huge wedding for that.
Carlisle and Esme had been kind enough to offer the use of their house for the wedding and the reception. A huge tent-like structure had been set up outside, lined with heaters and small fire pits against the chill of the early October night, for the reception. Our rather humble number of guests were now filtering in after stopping before Edward and I to offer their congratulations again.
Alice had given us a discount on her services as an event planner; she had handled almost everything perfectly and I couldn't have been happier to have her help. It had been so easy to explain what we wanted – she knew us both so well, and she understood what we were going for. Everything looked absolutely beautiful; flowers and satin ribbons covered all available surfaces without being too overbearing, and the lighting was soft and romantic, just like I had wanted.
Alice was a genius.
I turned away from Edward's co-worker and his girlfriend to see the smiling face of Jacob in front of me.
"Jake!" I laughed as he enveloped me in his arms, albeit a little awkwardly as neither Edward or I wanted to let go of each other's hands. I felt him squeeze my fingers as Jake perhaps kept our hug going a little longer than necessary.
He had flown in with my mom and Phil two days ago – the only people from Phoenix who I even wanted to invite. I had secretly thought it was totally hilarious to watch Edward and Jake interact with each other during yesterdays rehearsal dinner. Despite the fact that I had barely talked to Jake for five years, he had acted as if no time had passed at all; he put on a whole 'protective-friend'-facade around me. Edward had looked at him with a clear 'wft'-face as Jake attempted to gauge his character.
As I said, totally hilarious.
Jake finally let me disengage from our hug, and I tried to suppress my laughter at his behaviour. I squeezed Edward's fingers back in an attempt to ground myself and not lose it.
"You look stunning, Bells," Jake smiled, raking his eyes over me in a slightly inappropriate fashion. Edward cleared his throat and I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from snorting.
"Thanks, Jake," I said instead, subtly leaning into Edward just a little bit more.
Edward held his hand out to Jake, who grabbed it firmly; I might have imagined how Jake's grip seemed indecently strong.
"Congrats, Edward – you're a very lucky man," Jake said jovially. It sounded honest enough, and I was really in no mood to search his voice and features for anything that might suggest otherwise.
"I know," Edward smiled. "Thank you."
With a final nod, Jake let go of Edward's hand and made his way into the tent.
"Damn, he must be insecure about something..." Edward mumbled as he cast a last glance at Jake's retreating back. I saw him flex and curl his fingers rhythmically.
"What do you mean?" I asked quietly.
Edward turned back to me with an evil grin. "He was squeezing my hand hard as hell. I just figured he must be a bit insecure about his, ah... manhood, if you know what I mean." He wiggled his eyebrows comically, making me burst out laughing.
"Shut up," I giggled before turning back to greet the next guest in line.
The rest of the reception flowed smoothly – the food was absolutely amazing, the atmosphere was happy and warm and the guests seemed to be enjoying themselves.
One of the highlights of the reception were the speeches, specifically Emmett's. Edward groaned and buried his face in his hands as Emmett stood up with a mischievous grin.
The beginning of his speech was beautiful – if there was one thing that always surprised people about Emmett, it was how eloquent he could be when he wanted to. However, what started out as a heart-warming explanation about how happy he was to 'officially welcome me to the family' ended up making all the guests either gape in shock or laugh hysterically.
"Edward, my dear brother, I promised I would do this – and I always keep my promises," he had said, throwing a wink our way as my darling husband started shaking with quiet giggles. Jasper had suddenly burst out laughing too, holding his hand up for a high-five with Emmett; their palms created a loud smack that mingled perfectly with their triumphant guffaws.
I had caught Rose and Alice's respective quizzical faces, mirroring them with one of my own. I turned to Edward, silently asking him what was going on – it sounded like some sort of inside joke, and knowing Emmett, it wasn't going to be very appropriate.
"Oh man... your dad is gonna kill me!" Edward had giggled, taking my hand and lacing our fingers together. He took one look at my face and giggled again. "I'm sorry, love. Trust me, I tried to stop him."
I was just about to ask him what the fuck he was going on about when Emmett started talking. It immediately became clear why Edward was suddenly fearing for his life.
Emmett told everyone about the morning in Edinburgh when they all walked in on us.
Soon I was laughing so hard I was crying, vainly trying to dab away my tears without messing up my make-up too much. It was hilarious watching everyone's reactions – those that had heard the story before – hell, those who had been there in person – laughed without hesitation, applauding and shouting good natured jabs.
Then there was a divide amongst those to which this story was unfamiliar. All were shocked, obviously, but while people like Renee and Phil joined the ranks of amused guests, others such as Charlie, Jake and my extremely conservative co-worker, Tanya, sat with varying faces of dislike.
Charlie was the only one who swung back and forth between anger, irritation and embarrassment though. I almost felt bad for the poor man.
However, my favourite part of the reception was without a doubt our first dance to the soft notes of Adele's "Crazy For You". I felt like I was in fairytale as Edward twirled us around the dance floor; the strings of twinkling lights that weaved in and out between the flowers and satin ribbons, that hung tastefully from the canopy and draped beautifully along the walls provided the perfect backdrop for his magnificent face as we danced.
"Have I told you how breathtakingly beautiful you look tonight, Mrs. Cullen?" Edward whispered as he held me close, slowly spinning us around.
"Once or twice," I grinned, a thrill running through me as he used my new name. I could definitely get used to hearing that.
"Well, I think I better tell you again, just to make sure..." he murmured as a camera flashed to our left.
I laughed softly and bit my lip as I nodded.
"You, Mrs. Cullen, look breathtakingly beautiful tonight."
He then bent down and kissed my smiling lips, as cameras flashed all around us.
What felt like hours later, when I had danced with everyone, laughed with everyone, thrown my bouquet, hugged everyone and thanked them all for coming, Edward and I were finally alone – or as alone as one can be in the back of a car with a driver on the way to the airport.
I sat nestled into him, resting my head on his shoulder. His left arm was secure around me, drawing tiny patterns on my skin. I played with the fingers of his other hand, just enjoying our quiet time together. I breathed him in selfishly, revelling in our first alone-time all day.
"Was it how you though it would be?" he mumbled after a few minutes, his muted voice fitting in the darkness surrounding us.
I smiled, and shook my head. "It was better."
I felt his silent chuckle rumbling through his chest. "I thought so too."
I stayed silent for a few seconds, while I thought back on the day I'd had. Suddenly, a quiet giggle erupted from me.
"You're my husband," I giggled in an awed whisper.
Edward's hands tightened around me. "I know. You're my wife." He sounded equally awed and incredulous, as if he couldn't get his mind to wrap around the idea.
I snuggled closer, angling my face up to kiss under his jaw quickly. He chuckled softly as I got settled in my previous position again. I felt him look down at me as he entwined our fingers in his lap gently, and I relaxed into him with a content sigh.
"I love you," he whispered, pressing a kiss to the side of my head.
"I love you, too," I answered softly, closing my eyes and letting my mind concentrate only on him; his scent swirling around me, the warmth of his body making me feel safe and loved, the familiar planes and angles of him against my own soft curves and swells. This was my place, my home, the centre of my world, and there was no place else I'd rather be.
With hurried, but careful, steps I made my way over the icy driveway to Kate and Garret's house, pulling my coat closer to my body. The freezing December air bit into my cheeks, making me fucking impatient to get home. After the week I'd had, I was looking forward to a nice meal, maybe a beer or two, and just collapsing on the couch with Bella.
As that thought came swimming through my mind, I rang the doorbell and shuffled my feet impatiently.
As usual, the wave of noise that can only be created by a group of kids under the age of six exploded out to me as the door opened.
"Hey, Edward – right on time," said an impressively calm Kate as she ushered me inside. I'd always wondered how the hell she could maintain the calm and patient air that always surrounded her, given what she did all day, but I wasn't one to complain.
"Yeah well, it's Friday," I chuckled as an explanation while stomping some snow off my boots. "Good day?" I asked then, as I pulled off my gloves.
"Yes, except for a little incident with John," Kate nodded.
I frowned. "What kind of incident?"
She laughed, patting me on the arm. "Always so protective. Nah, John just doesn't like to share, or wait for his turn. He tried to take over Emma's building blocks, but you know her – she just pushed him away and screamed a little. He pushed her back, which just made her really mad and well... suffice to say, there were no bodily injures, they have both apologised and Emma abandoned the building blocks in favour of crayons."
I laughed at the image she painted in my mind. "Oh yeah? Anything to show for her artistic attempts?"
Kate grinned. "Of course – she's been waiting all day to show you."
The wave of noise grew louder and it sounded as if it was approaching us fast. A high-pitched scream suddenly barrelled down the hallway, followed by a series of patters and thumps. Kate and I exchanged a glance and I took a deep breath to strengthen myself.
My daughter appeared around the corner, running as fast as her tiny legs could carry her. The brown curls that she had inherited from Bella bounced around her head as she screamed for no apparent reason at all.
She almost continued running into the next room before she spotted me standing by the door. She immediately changed her course, her high-pitched scream only adapting to sound slightly like 'daddy'.
"Babygirl!" I exclaimed happily, reaching down to grab her as she aimed for my knees. I swung her into her air, her beautiful giggles filling the hallway. I hugged her to my chest as she wrapped all her tiny limbs around me tightly.
Thankfully, she stopped screaming, but she kept up a delighted mantra of "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" in my ear as I chuckled.
She pulled her face away from my neck and gave me a quick kiss. I smiled at her as she patted my cheek, mumbling something quietly to herself.
Our darling daughter had just celebrated her second birthday and Bella and I were gearing up for the "terrible two's" – I had heard some pretty detailed horror stories from other parents, and I was just waiting for Emma to erupt in a tantrum so violent and difficult that I'd burst into tears trying to deal with her.
I much more preferred her being all cute and adorable like she was right now.
"Did you have a good day?" I asked her, bouncing her a little in my arms.
She giggled and nodded, before her eyes suddenly lit up as she remembered something. "I'za pic-chour!" she squealed happily, grinning at me with pride.
"You have a picture?" I asked, feigning surprised delight. "Can I see it?"
She laughed happily and squirmed in my arms, kicking her legs so that I'd put her down. As soon as her tiny little feet hit the floor, she was off.
Kate and I chuckled as she ran down the hallway, way too much energy coursing through her body than I was prepared to deal with.
"So, how's Bella?" Kate asked me as we waited.
Kate was married to the same Garrett that had worked with Bella in the pub five years ago; when we had started looking into day care for Emma, we had unexpectedly found his familiar name. When it turned out that his wife ran a family day care centre, we had felt more than comfortable trusting them to look after our daughter during the days.
Their house was conveniently situated in the route I took to work, so dropping her off in the morning and picking her up at the end of the day was my responsibility. In return, Bella handled things like grocery shopping and other boring stuff I was glad I didn't have to do.
"Bella's good," I smiled. "She's excited about the holidays; I've never seen her work so hard to get everything perfect."
Kate leaned her head to side with an amused frown. "Why?"
I opened my mouth to answer when the patter of tiny feet that I knew so well echoed down the hallway once again. I grinned and pointed in the direction of my approaching daughter in way of an explanation.
Kate laughed and nodded just as Emma barrelled towards me, a piece of paper clutched in her tiny hand. I crouched down to her level, reaching for the picture as she handed it to me.
I had no idea what it was.
"It's beautiful, honey. Aren't you a clever girl?" I encouraged nonetheless, looking down at the random doodles of colour swirling across the paper.
Emma nodded enthusiastically, before jumping once and squealing happily. I brushed her hair away from her face.
"Come on, babygirl – let's go home to mommy, ok?"
"Yeah!" she agreed, running away to her little cubby so that I could get her clothes on.
After a few minutes of struggling with her tiny boots and trying to convince her to wear her hat, we were finally set to go. Emma waved bye to Kate as we left the house, seemingly untroubled by the low temperature outside.
Driving with Emma in the car was always an interesting experience – you'd either get happy Emma, angry Emma, tired Emma, quiet Emma, annoyed Emma or chatty Emma. My personal favourite was sleeping Emma, but today I was presented with a happy-chatty child. She was extremely content to just listen to her own voice, spouting off random questions and nonsensical observations.
I listened attentively, responding appropriately when called for. Mostly I knew she didn't really care about what I had to say, but I humoured myself with the hope that she at least appreciated the effort on my part.
I was surprised to see Bella's car already parked in our driveway. She usually came home about 20 minutes after Emma and I, and I frowned as I started worrying – was something wrong? Had something happened?
Emma was oblivious to my concerns, which I was thankful for. I helped her out of her car seat and carried her into the house, calling for Bella as I closed the door behind us.
"In the kitchen!" I heard her reply. She sounded fine... but why was she home so early?
I quickly removed Emma's clothes as she wriggled impatiently, wanting nothing more than to run to Bella. As soon as I released her she looked at me expectantly, the green eyes she had inherited from me round and impatient.
"My pic-chour!" she demanded when I didn't automatically give it to her. I chuckled as I dug it out from her bag, watching her take off in the direction of the kitchen as soon as I placed it in her hands.
I followed her and came just in time to see Bella pick her up into her arms.
"You drew a picture?" Bella asked, gasping excitedly when Emma shoved it in her face. "Sweetie, look at that! Well done, Emma." Bella kissed her exuberantly on the cheek. "Wanna put it on the fridge?"
"Yeah!" our daughter exclaimed, watching with unparalleled excitement as Bella placed it next to a basically identical picture from last week, using a red 'E' magnet.
Emma giggled and clapped her hands, giving her mother a hug. Then she promptly demanded to be put down, running off into the living room to do god knows what.
"Hey," I said softly as I walked up to my wife, bending down to kiss her. Unexpectedly, Bella threw an arm around my neck, holding me to her in a passionate kiss that immediately awakened a certain part of my anatomy.
"Hey," she smiled breathlessly after releasing me. I cocked an eyebrow, wrapping my arms around her waist.
"Not that I'm complaining, but what was that for?"
Bella's grin turned positively mischievous. "I'm just happy."
"Alright..." I said dubiously, pretty fucking sure that there was something else going on. "Why are you home so early?"
Bella's grin grew even wider. "Something happened, and Angela forced me to go home."
I frowned, that nagging worry starting up again. "What happened? What's wrong?"
Bella laughed and actually bounced in my arms. "Nothing's wrong."
She looked up at me, eyes sparkling happily as she bit her lip. She leaned in a little closer and took a deep breath before whispering, "I'm pregnant."
I stared at her as my heart stopped at her words. It seemed as if the whole world froze in the five seconds I needed to take in those words.
"You're pregnant?" I asked in a hoarse whisper, dimly noticing how my arms tightened around her.
She nodded frantically, grinning widely as she waited for me to fully grasp what she was saying.
"You're pregnant," I repeated, a bubbly sensation starting in the pit of my stomach.
"I'm pregnant," she confirmed.
A smile started tugging relentlessly at my lips. "We're having another baby?"
"Yes!" Bella squealed excitedly.
I stared at her in wonder as the words fully and truly sank into my heart. The bubbles moved and tickled, alerting me that I would soon have a sudden outburst of emotions. It came not three seconds later. "You're pregnant!"
At that, I grabbed her firmly around the waist, lifting her off the floor as I laughed loudly. She hugged me tightly, giggling along with me. I buried my face in her neck, filling my lungs with her scent.
After placing her back on her feet I grabbed her face in my hands, staring deeply into her eyes. "You're absolutely sure?" I knew she was, but this was just one of those things you had to ask.
"I'm sure," she promised in a breathless whisper, happy tears glittering on her lashes.
I kissed her, hard and exuberantly. She moaned quietly into my mouth, twisting her hands into my hair and holding on tightly.
"I love you," I gasped after I pulled away, resting my forehead against hers. "I love you, so much."
"I love you, Edward," she sniffed, a happy laugh leaving her. "We're having another baby."
I squeezed her closer to me, exhaling shakily, before chuckles started bubbling out of me without my permission. "Wow, I-... I just... fuck, I love you!"
Accompanied by the bangs of our daughter no doubt throwing stuff around the livingroom, my heart started swelling in preparation of loving another individual unconditionally. Whoever our new baby turned out to be, I knew they would be someone extremely special. A perfect mix of Bella and myself, set free to grow into their own person.
I held my wife – my heart, my soul – tenderly in my arms, listening to Emma's delightful giggles in the next room, Bella's calm breaths against my neck, the slight hum of the oven behind us; all these sounds of my home, my family.
Not for the first time, I felt truly blessed and I knew that a day wouldn't go by for the rest of my life when I wouldn't feel thankful for everything I had been fortunate enough to receive. Mine and Bella's life was simple and honest, but so filled with love that I sometimes wondered what I had done to deserve it all.
But who was I to question it? I just knew that as long as I had Bella, everything else would fall into place. And I would always have Bella – my love, my heart, my soul.
And now, for the traditional words: THE END.
I'm all kinds of emo right now – it's not easy letting go.
Bella's ring can be found on my profile under "Epilogue: picture 1", and her dress is in "Picture 2".
Again, thank you to every single one of you for choosing to follow these two until the very end. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. Thank you.
Now, I am going to pimp myself out a little, so if you don't actually care about what else I might write in the future, you don't have to read this:
First, I've written a little on-shot for the "FML Contest" – I've been told it's ridiculous (which I totally agree with) and funny (which I'll leave to your judgement). If you feel like you might need something to cheer you up a little, might I suggest giving it a go? A link to the contest's C2 can be found in the story, and I'd definitely recommend checking out some of the other entries.
Secondly, I will now be working on my other story "Getting Lost" – it originally started out as a one-shot for Ninapolitan's D.I.L.F-contest, so if you like DILFward, this might be something for you.
As a treat (or not, I'll again leave that to your judgement) I'll be sending out teasers for the second chapter of "Getting Lost" as soon as I have something ready. All you have to do is write something like "I want a teaser" in your review, and I'll happily oblige.
Since I don't want to force my stories on you, I won't send a teaser unless you ask for it.
Even if your review consists solely of the words "I want a teaser", I will send you one. You can even just write "Me", and you will get it.
Actually, someone please leave me a review that only says "Me"? I'd seriously love to get one.
Seriously. It'd be like the shortest review ever – how cool is that?
Again, if you want a teaser, let me know – if there is nothing in your review that suggests you want me to send a teaser, I won't, because I'll assume you don't actually care.
Alright, I'm gonna shut my pie hole now. Again.... Thank you for reading.
I love you, guys.