So, a lot of you thought that the previous chapter was the final one. Although I can see why that would be a natural conclusion, you were wrong - sorry. This is the last one. There were always going to be twelve letters, because I happen to like symmetry.
Props to twilightbookaddict and Bee Lovely, who both refused to accept the previous chapter as the final one. Also, Orphan Ashley - are you serious!? Thank you!
Thank you so much for all of the reviews, favourites and alerts. They keep me motivated. When I wrote this, last November, it was a mere character exercise, mostly for my own purposes - never a big thing, like this has become. I was only persuaded to post it because of my wonderful friend, who isn't on ff, and requested not to be named. I know you're reading this, though - thank you so much, hon.
This is my approximation of a happy ending - as happy as it was ever going to get. In my defense, I made it very clear from the start that this wasn't a happy story.
Subject: RE: Letter #11 - The last letter
Oh, my son -
We are so sorry for your loss, Edward. Thank you for finally telling us about the circumstances surrounding Bella's untimely death. In truth, we were already aware of the nature of Bella's death, as, in fact, we were there.
Alice finally saw Bella's death. For some reason, she didn't get anything about her until just a day or two beforehand. I am sorry that we kept you in the dark, Edward, but we felt as though it would be unfair to you. I am so sorry for keeping this from you, son, but I knew you needed to come to terms with it, too. And now is the time to give you this, the last letter, which was written on the day of Bella's death. Charlie already had all of the others, and Bella gave me this one for safekeeping, until I could deliver it to you.
We offered to change her, Edward. She refused, for reasons that I do not understand, but would never challenge. I would never inflict this upon someone against their will - you know that. I am sorry.
We pay our respects to her every year. Her grave is in Forks, in the site that was once a meadow - your meadow. Bella requested that she be buried there, and I purchased the land after she died. It remains undisturbed. Jasper goes the most often - he still feels responsible, you know, and of course he has been in this situation before, with his human sister.
She will never be forgotten, Edward. Just the same as we will always remember you, and what you did for our family, and for the rest of the world in your remarkable research. Thank you.
Go in peace, my son, and know that we all love you.
Forks General Hospital
27th November 2009
You'll never guess who came, today. No really, you'd probably never guess.
Your family. They walked in through the door this morning, and I honestly thought I had already died for about ten minutes afterwards. It took them ages to convince me otherwise. All of them were there. Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett... even Rosalie came. It turns out that Alice finally saw, and she came as soon as she could. Apparently, she's tried to contact you, but she's never gotten through.
They love you, Edward. They love you so much. And when they saw me like this, Carlisle offered to change me right then and there, to keep me alive for you.
I said no, though.
Thing is, Edward, I was doing this for you. The only reason I wanted immortal life was because I wanted to be with you forever. And an eternity without you would be hell, Edward. So I told Carlisle no. And I'm not going to get you back. I know that now. This hope that has lived in my heart for more than a year now has finally died. I tried to explain it to them, but they didn't look convinced.
Rosalie looked the most shocked of all, I think. She asked to speak to me alone, and we discussed the situation. She, of all people, was trying to convince me to change my mind. For once, she wanted me to be changed. But I explained it to her, and in the end we agreed. I needed to die, because living hurts too much. But before we were re-joined by the others, Rose wrapped her arms tightly around me in a cold embrace that I never thought I'd feel again. We made our peace, at long last, and that made me happy.
And Emmett did me a favour, too. He finished my list for me. He made me laugh until I cried, real tears. It's the first time I've laughed so hard since you left, and it made me remember just how much I love your brother.
Please don't let them go, Edward. Please don't ever let them go. They love you so much, and they miss you as much as I do.
I cried when Alice hugged me, but they were real, sad tears. We just lay there on my hospital bed. She held me close, and stroked my shorn head, and she didn't even complain. She sobbed too, and I suddenly wondered how I'd managed without my wonderful, beautiful best friend and sister. We cried together for a long time.
Esme, too, was another tough person to say goodbye too. She gave me one of her wonderful, warm hugs, and I realised I'd missed her terribly, as well.
Jasper was the hardest to face. We both tried to apologise a hundred times, feeling equally guilty. I suppose we'll never come to a conclusion about who was to blame, but I'll always know that it was me, just as he'll always think it was him.
It wasn't you, Edward. Ignore what I said in that other letter, it wasn't true. Ignore what I said. I love you, Edward. I always have, and I will until the end. I'm going to keep holding on to the fact that you once loved me, too. I'm going to keep repeating it to myself, right until the end. You can say that you don't want me all you like but I'll always want you, Edward. You're all and everything I'll ever want.
I love you, Edward. I love you. I love you. I love you.
The pain overwhelms again, and I can see Jasper's grimace. He has to leave the room. I immediately feel this horrible guilt. That was my fault.
Renee and Charlie and Phil and Jake enter, and though they're surprised to see the Cullens, they don't question their sudden appearance. I see Charlie glance surreptitiously around the room, looking for you, and looking satisfied when you weren't here. Jake looks angry for a split second, but then he relaxes. He can deal with them, as long as you're not here.
I wish you were. But your family is, and that will have to be enough for me.
Your family and mine have granted me the thing I wanted most, Edward. They've given me what I needed, the thing that completes me and my list. They've made me happy after a time when I never thought I'd be happy again.
I love you, Edward. And with that knowledge safe in your mind, I will sign off this, the last letter. I'll always want you, Edward. I'll always love you. Remember that.
I've already given Charlie the other eleven letters. I'll give this one to Carlisle, because I know I can trust him beyond anything. If you ever come back, I'll make sure that both of them give these letters to you. Maybe you won't. But if you do, they'll be waiting for you.
And I'll be waiting for you in heaven.
So, that's the end. The last letter - for real, this time. Thank you, again. I love you all!