AUTHOR'S NOTE

Hello everyone.

I wish to take this opportunity to leave a brief message before posting the epilogue of The Ties That Bind (more about that in a moment).

I'm trembling a little as I type this.

The Ties That Bind is a story that began two years ago while I was hanging washing on the clothes line. Since that time, it has become all encompassing. It has been a friend, an enemy, and a constant companion. Its characters have become as real to me as my real life friends, and their journey has been emotionally powerful – happy, sad, joyous and, for me, cathartic.

Since I wrote the final words to this fic a few weeks ago, the characters, their storyline and their constant chattering in my head, have finally become silent. My mind is now free of this Edward, Bella, Dan and Cassie. It's a loss I feel, and it's real.

So many people have helped and supported me along the way. I have tried to thank and acknowledge each and every one of you as I have posted each chapter, for I have always been very worried that when I got to this point, I would forget someone – and that would be tragic – for just as my characters have become real to me, so have many of my supporters and readers. Many people whom I am likely never to meet, have befriended me, encouraged me, pushed me, questioned me, argued with me and loved me, and I cannot put into words what they have become to me. I can't thank you all enough for what you have given to me.

So to everyone, I thank you, for your generosity of spirit and your willingness to help a first-time writer on her journey – be they words of encouragement, assistance with my research, the answering of my pesky tweets while trying to change my "Aussieisms" for "Americianisms", or for propping me up when I have, several times during this process, thought of walking away.

At the risk of offending some, I need to single out a few people.

To Sandyk199, without whom, I would never have hit the "submit" button on my very first chapter, and who has been with me as a trusted friend, every step of the way.

To Lalina, who backed me from day one, sent multiple readers my way, and pushed and challenged me to write such beautiful words, producing something of a quality I never considered would actually ever be possible.

To Grendel, a precious gift, sent to me by Lalina, who took this hapless, hopeless Aussie and turned her into a fledgling writer; who worked with me, taught me, laughed with me, and roused on me when she knew, more than I did, that I could do so much better.

These three women are treasures, and have become important friends and confidants.

To TheRunaway, my twi validation beta, who has always been willing to help me "outside of the box".

To Sunfeathers, whose hours and hours of research in the very early stages of this fic, made the world of difference to the validity of the story.

To Ady, whose beautiful spirit has surfaced in this fic on several occasions, and for whom no task was ever too great; even taking surreptitious photographs inside The Plaza Hotel in NYC so that I could get the most minor of details correct for chapter 9, and then returning to have her photograph taken in front of the same hotel to celebrate my 500th review milestone.

To Cristina – who travelled several hours to meet me in Florence last year; it was a very special 24 hours.

To the ladies of my thread on Twi and others, namely: HOFY, UoEM, MoTU, Mobward, C&D and Body threads who have befriended me and supported me while I was on this crazy journey. I am thrilled to have met all of you.

And to my fellow Aussies – LBM, STM, Robrator, Hannah and AllyinPerth, who worked their Aussie Arses off to pimp me and encourage fellow Aussies to read my little known fic.

And so, we come to the end of the journey.

Now, onto the Epilogue.

Time and time again, I have been asked, "Will this be a HEA fic?"

I have never answered that question directly, always avoiding a specific answer, despite the fact that the bare bones of the epilogue have been written for nearly eighteen months.

The answer to that question is… it is... to me.

The clues to the ultimate ending of this tale have been there for all to see in the songs I have recommended on my thread. It shouldn't come as a surprise, but I suspect it will. There are only five people, aside from myself, who have been aware of the content of the epilogue. Three of them have now read it and all are telling me to take cover or change my name (and maybe both).

I am very aware that The Epilogue won't be everyone's cup of tea (or half-strength, skim milk, no foam cappuccino or whatever the hell it is that you US folk order! LOL)

As a result, I am posting the epilogue as a separate one-shot. You will need to have me on author alert to receive notification of its posting.

It is my sincerest hope that just as my readers have taken the time to appreciate the maturity of these characters, that you also take the time to see and understand the message that is hidden between the lines of the epilogue.

The themes of this story are very personal to me, and I have equally as personal reasons for writing this epilogue as I have.

If you choose to read it, be warned, you will need tissues, (my betas also recommend chocolate cake and copious amounts of alcohol) but I sincerely hope that as you reflect on it, it leaves you with a feeling of fulfillment and untimately, peace and of a story that has come a full circle.

The Ties that Bind us to our loved ones are enduring and never-ending, no matter what life throws at us.

Two pieces of poetry have inspired my epilogue.

I leave you with these now:

SONNET 116 – by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

ooOOOoo

The Road Less Travelled – by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

ooOOOoo

The first poem relates directly to the Epilogue.

The second has underpinned my writing of this entire story and culminates in the Epilogue – I have tried to take the road less travelled in the world I call "Ficland". I have tried to stay true to this personal goal to the very end.

If we are to part ways now because you chose not to read the epilogue, then that's fine. I thank you for reading, and for your willingness to let this story unfold. I appreciate the time you have invested in the story and the relationship you have developed with my characters. You have your HEA. Feel free to walk away knowing Bella and Edward have experienced the kind of love that Ties and Binds each to the other, for eternity.

If, however, you wish to read the epilogue, you will need to search for it under my author name. It is there for all to find, easily.

Thank you everyone for reading and supporting me and my story.

Until we next meet,

Leisa.