HE STOPPED LOVING HER TODAY

(The Crimson Rose)

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This is the one shot I have written for the prompt word "CRIMSON" given by someone at a community I write in some. I want to explain something however, for I feel you may not be happy with me. I love Jake just as much, if not more, that most of you who read this, but when she posted the word "CRIMSON" here's how my thought process started working. I saw a woman holding a crimson rose, then for some strange reason the song "He Stopped Loving Her Today"came to mind. Some of you may know the song from years ago written by R.V. Braddock and C. Putman, Jr., but made famous by George Jones. I don't really like country music, as it's not my normal genre, but I did grow up listening to it as a child and this song is one that has always stuck with me. Then we have the tragic love of Jake and Bella, and we all know that story, but I started thinking this is how things might have ended for them, if SMeyer hadn't thrown Renessmee into the equation. (Explanation continued in the footnotes.)

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He had said, "I'll love you until I die," the day we went to fight the newborns. He never tried to hide the last conversation he'd had with her. Even though he knew we could hear his thoughts. She had told him, "you'll forget in time," but he never did.

He left shortly after that, knowing she was going to marry Edward Cullen. We didn't try to follow him or find him, we knew he would come back when he was ready. And he did, three months after the wedding, he returned. But he wasn't the same. The young man we had known was gone, gone forever.

As the years crept slowly by, she still preyed upon his mind. He kept her picture on his wall, but I'm not sure why, maybe it helped him make it through each day. He stopped phasing about a year after coming back. He just stopped one day and never phased again. It took me and Quil two or three tries to be able to stop phasing. But, he just seemed to give up, and in doing so he left the wolf behind. There were times though, I thought I could hear him howling, at the moon late at night. I guess now and then he went half crazy. He still loved her through it all and kept hoping she'd come back to him.

His dad had sent me back to their house to retrieve some letters from the night stand beside his bed. When I walked into the room, it was like walking back in time. He'd left everything the same, just as it was when he was the young carefree young man that we had all known and loved. I sat down on the bed and pulled open the small drawer and right where Billy said they would be, there was a small stack of yellowed letters, each dated 2002.

I opened them and saw that he had underlined in red, every single I love you. Upon reading further, I realized they were written about the time Cullen had returned from Italy. When he wouldn't let her come here because he thought we would hurt her. Man, how did things get so messed up? If only Cullen hadn't come back, I thought.

I tucked the letters inside the jacket of my coat pocket, took one last look at the room, then closed the door behind me, leaving behind only images and memories. It was hard for me, as I walked down the road to the chapel, knowing that this was the last time I would ever see him.

When I stepped inside the small sanctuary, I looked at the shinny, black wooden box at the front of the room and I knew I had to do this, to say my last goodbye. I walked slowly down the isle, noticing there weren't many people there yet, I was early, and I was thankful that no one would see me.

As I neared his resting place, I found a strange sense of calm wash over me, because there, under his dark hair, now streaked with strands of grey, was the most peaceful looking smile I'd ever seen on his face. There all dressed up to go away, it was the first time I'd seem him smiled in years.

I pulled the letters from my pocket and placed them inside his jacket, closest to his heart. Now I understood why Billy wanted me to bring them. Even though I was glad that he was no longer shedding tears, I couldn't help but wipe them away from my eyes, knowing that after almost twenty years, he had finally given up and stopped waiting on her to return.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder and I turned to see Quil looking down at him.

"He looks peaceful doesn't he?" he said in a voice choked with grief.

"He finally stopped loving her today," was my reply.

"Huh. What did you say?"

"I said he stopped loving her today. They've placed a wreath upon his door and soon they'll carry him away, but at least he's in peace now, because he stopped loving her today."

My words really got to Quil. He knew and understood what I had meant, so he made an exit only to return a few minutes later wearing sunshades. We took our places on the left front pew and Emily came by with tears in her eyes to place a single white carnation in each of our lapels.

I could hear the others starting to arrive and the organist began playing some of Billy's selections. We all just sat there, lost in our own memories and thoughts of times past. When everyone had arrived, the chapel quieted and the preacher took his place at the podium. The attendants went over and closed the lid to the shiny, black box and lay a spray of blue carnations and white daisies on the top of the lid.

I tried to listen, but my mind wondered off to the good ole days. The days before there were wolves and vampires and there were just three kids playing around on the beach chasing after each other and digging for crabs. That's how I would remember him. Those were the memories I would cherish.

When the preacher was finished and the songs had been sung, the attendants removed the flowers and opened the lid once again. Everyone filed past to say their farewells, then we were to carry him out to the waiting vehicle for his last ride.

The ride was short in reality, but it seemed to last forever. All of us, Quil, Sam, Jared, Paul, Seth, and I were now all wearing our sunshades and it was hard to look at anyone, for fear we might break down.

We lifted the shiny, black box from the vehicle and carried it to the stand covered in black velvet under the tent. There was a cool breeze blowing that afternoon and it rustled through the flowers that were gathered around the mound of earth they had dug for his final resting place, filling the air with such a sweet aroma.

All of us stood back in a line, behind him and I swear we all looked like members of the Mafia with our dark sunshades and black suits. I smiled to myself thinking that if he could see us he might even laugh and make some sort of joke. But we were there for him, one last time, his pack brothers were there to see him off.

The preacher called for everyone's attention and a few more words were spoken, then everyone filed past to shake Billy's hand and offer hugs to Rachel and Rebecca. The six of us hung back though, no one speaking, but all of us watching and wondering. Wondering if, if she would come.

We never saw her arrive, but we all knew she was there, even after more than twenty years, the smell is still the same and is just as uncomfortable. Filing past in the crowd we saw her, dressed from head to toe in black with a black hat and veil covering her face. No one knew, or even noticed her much for that matter, except for us.

Sam told us to stand down and just keep and eye on things that he had a feeling being here was punishment enough for her. So we watched from a few yards away as she moved in the line until she was the very last to approach where he lay. Pulling off her black glove, she took the most beautiful crimson rose from her bag that I had ever seen, and placed it upon the lid.

Staring at her in awe, it kept running through my mind that this time, this time he's over her for good. I couldn't stand it any longer, so I walked warily up to her, she never seemed to notice that I was there, but I knew she knew.

"I want to see him one last time," she whispered, so I called for the attendants to come over and open up the lid. I'm not sure why I did, except for the fact that I wanted her to see what she had done to him.

She had removed the crimson rose from the top and held it in her pale, ghost-like hand until the lid was open. Then, with a gasp and a sound like that of a sob, she lay the rose over his heart, right where I had placed the yellowed letters.

I had managed to keep my composure and hold my emotions in check until she bent over and kissed him on his cold pale lips and that's when I lost it.

"Why?" I demanded. "Why the hell did you come back today? Why didn't you come back years ago, or why didn't you stay with him instead of leaving?"

I could see her features shaking underneath the sheer black veil as she turned to me.

"Sometimes we make mistakes that can't be erased and those are the ones you have to live with forever," was all she said, then the attendant motioned that we needed to move so they could proceed with putting him in the ground.

She placed her glove back on her hand and turned to walk away, then stopped and I heard her say, "I'll be back. I'm going to Italy for a while, but they'll see to it that I return here, soon, very soon."

After she was gone, the others joined me and asked what had happened, wanting to know what she had said. I didn't know what to say, or if I could even speak yet, so I simply shrugged my shoulders. But that wasn't enough. Quil stepped in front of me and grabbed me by the shoulders.

"Man, what did she say? Why did she come?"

I swallowed hard and pushed the lump down in my throat and whispered, "I think she's finally coming back to him."

Then I turned and walked back toward my house by way of the ocean. I passed the old driftwood tree where they used to sit and talk, it's hard to believe it was still there after so long. I threw a stone or two out into the water and said, "goodbye old friend," before heading home.

I kept an eye on the small cemetery for the next week or so, and exactly two weeks to the day that we had laid Jake to rest, I found a new mound right beside his. They must have brought her during the night, I thought, as I knelt down to read the headstone that was already in place.

"Here lies the crimson rose. Her name is but unknown, but she knew where she belonged and we have brought her home. Her heart is here, though it beats no longer and now they are finally joined, in death's cold slumber."

Tears filled my eyes as I read the stone again and the only thing that came to mind was that she must have stopped loving him today.

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FOOTNOTES

Thank goodness though we have people at so many writing communities that keep Jake alive and well and fighting for Bella's love. I would also like to think that Jake would have gone on with this life, even if he was missing a very important part of it, Bella. I'm the number one advocate for that very cause, but I just couldn't stop thinking about this and honestly have cried on and off all day because of this fic. I hope you see where I was coming from and understand that this was just what came to me from the prompt and my heart. Thanks for reading and I'm sorry if I made you cry.

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