it's amazing to me that i've finally finished this story. i started in july of last year and it's always been on my mind. it's also amazing to me to see how i've grown as a writer in the time that i've been in the fanfic world. i've made some of the best friends that i could have ever hoped to have, read some of the best stories i've ever read, and even won some awards. it's been a fun ride.
bug hugs and extreme thanks go to my beta and very best friend mybrandofheroin84. thanks to twilight i have someone that i can't ever imagine living without.
Seventy five years later
The wind ruffled my hair but I did nothing about it. I was standing alone in the woods, still as a statue, unwilling and unable to move from my spot, even though I'd been standing here for hours. I was thankful no one had seen me.
It had been seventy-five years almost to the day since I had found Bella in the meadow, lying in the sun. Seventy-five years of waiting in the wings, wondering if she would ever change her mind.
I watched as she said goodbye to her father outside of their home when she and Jacob left for the University of Oregon. I listened to her father cry after he went inside and cursed himself for not telling her about the diagnosis of leukemia he'd received the week before. He reasoned that she would've stayed, and he knew she needed to go out and live her life. She had given him two of the happiest years of his life; it was time for him to let her have her own.
I made the call to the football coach at the University of Oregon and told him about Jacob Black. I was the reason the coach got in contact with Jacob and found him a spot on the team, and I took credit for the breakout season the sophomore had. I also took credit for the Heisman Trophy he won in his junior year.
I was there when Jacob called Charlie to ask for his blessing to marry his daughter. I was also there when Jacob called Carlisle to ask for his blessing as well. Esme cried and Carlisle looked like his chest had been puffed up with helium. I forced a smile and pretended I was happy for them, but inside I was dying.
I was there when Bella spent the last week of Charlie's life with him in the hospital. I watched as she watched her father call out for her mother, as she attempted to spoon-feed him jello, begging him to try to eat. I watched as Charlie took his last breath and as Bella slumped over her father's body and cried like she had never cried before.
Emmett and I sat and watched the NFL draft and witnessed Jacob kissing Bella after he was drafted to the Indianapolis Colts as the fifth pick in the first round. Emmett cheered as Jacob held up his new jersey and took a picture with the commissioner. I couldn't help but notice how beautiful Bella looked in the blue dress she was wearing for the occasion.
I stood in the back of the crowd and watched as Bella received her Master's in Education and was jealous when she threw herself into Jasper's arms and thanked him profusely for his help on her thesis about teaching the merits of the Civil War in high school education.
It wasn't me who waited for her at the end of the aisle on her wedding day as she held the arm of my father. It wasn't me who promised my undying love and devotion in front of God and all the witnesses. I was there, standing in the back as always, watching as she kissed her new husband and became Mrs. Jacob Black. I sat at a table alone as I watched my sisters in their bridesmaid dresses doing the Macarena with the epitome of all that was beautiful in her white bridal gown. I looked away as her new husband kissed her after he playfully stuffed wedding cake in her face.
It wasn't me who carried the blushing bride over the threshold of their first home as man and wife. I was not the one whom she undressed for on her wedding night, not the one who made love to her and pledged to cherish her for all of my days as I touched her soft skin.
I was not the man who bought her the pregnancy test after she missed her period. Nor was I the man who held her hair back as she vomited through her first two trimesters. It wasn't me who decorated the nursery with her, who felt the baby kicking through the expanse of Bella's stomach, or celebrated when they found out they were having a boy. It wasn't my hand that was almost broken during the fifteen and a half hours of labor, but I was there. They didn't know, but I was. I watched from the hall through Jacob's mind when they put the child to Bella's breast. Through his mind, it was me who cut the cord severing the baby from its mother. Through his mind, it was me who held Bella's baby and felt an overwhelming love like I never had before.
I still wondered if she would change her mind. She hadn't yet, but that didn't mean anything.
I wasn't the one who rolled out of bed when the baby cried, trying to allow Bella an extra bit of sleep. It wasn't me who got upset every time I had to leave for an away game and begged her to join me. It wasn't me who fought through her postpartum depression to try to get her back from the confines of her sadness. I did beg for Carlisle to prescribe her medication, and that helped. It made me feel like I had helped in a way.
I wasn't the one who laid in the dark with her and worried about the future when she found out she was pregnant again. It wasn't me who was stunned speechless when the doctor came in to say that Bella was pregnant with twin girls. I wasn't the one who cried when the babies were born two months early and spent three weeks next to each other in twin incubators, nor was I the proud father who happily brought his daughters home.
Two years later, I was not the man who moved the very pregnant Bella and his family to Jacksonville when the Jaguars needed a new wide receiver. It wasn't my fifth baby who was born on Bella's thirty-first birthday, effectively completing the family of seven. I was not the man she came home to after her first day of work as a high school history teacher, the one who rubbed her feet that ached after standing up in heels all day. I didn't pick up the kids in the family's luxury SUV, nor did I help them with their homework and put them to bed before covering Bella up with a blanket after she had fallen asleep grading term papers.
I watched with the rest of the world when Jacob announced he was retiring from football after 16 years playing the game. I agreed he was correct in wanting to spend more time with his family and enjoy his life with them.
I was there when Bella's first child, Michael, graduated high school as the valedictorian of his class, on his way to Duke for medical school, a fact that had Carlisle pleased beyond measure. I watched when Jacob and Bella sent their daughters Ashley and Amanda off to Tulane and Georgia Tech. I stood in the crowd when their son Matthew pitched his first no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox and celebrated when their son Ian's engineering company made its first million.
I lived vicariously through the mind of Jacob, and waited for Bella's call. It never came.
Esme called me crying when Ashley was in a car accident and very nearly died. I stood unnoticed outside the hospital while Carlisle told them Ashley had made it through surgery and that she was going to be just fine.
I cradled Bella's first grandchild Sommer through the memories of Rosalie, marveling over how much the child looked like Bella with her dark hair and brown eyes. I watched numerous soccer and tee ball games from the wings, silently cheering on the children that came from Bella's children.
It wasn't me who encouraged Bella to retire from her job so she could travel and see the world. I wasn't the one who drank wine with her in Italy, who kissed her at the top of the Eiffel Tower, who made love to her in a tiki hut in Tahiti.
I wasn't the one who nursed Bella back to health after she had tripped over the dog and broken her hip. Although I fretted along with Jacob over the amount of pain medications she was on, I wasn't the one able to cheer her on when she took her first steps unassisted by a walker. When she looked in the mirror and bemoaned over her wrinkles and graying hair, I looked at my own reflection in the window and wished that I was graying and wrinkling with her. I wanted to tell her she was still beautiful, that she'd always be beautiful to me. But it wasn't me who did that, it was Jacob.
Their great-grandchildren were born and the family continued to grow. They settled in the mountains of North Carolina because Bella wanted to live where they could have some snow but not too much.
I stood by helplessly when she was told at the age of seventy eight that she had breast cancer. I sat in the hall outside of Carlisle's office and listened to him give the same bad news when they went to him for a second opinion. I watched as she underwent a bilateral mastectomy and radiation. I listened to her cry as she brushed her hair and pulled out the strands as she went through chemotherapy. I celebrated with the family when Bella achieved her five-year remission at the age of 85.
I hired the best physical, occupational, and speech therapists to go to the Black's house after Jacob had a stroke. He had the best care possible through round the clock nurses, and of course, he had Bella to live for. I rejoiced when he was able to dance with Bella on their sixty-fourth wedding anniversary.
Maybe it was inappropriate of me, but I still wanted her to call.
Bella's health took a turn for the worse shortly after her ninety-third birthday. Sure, she had slowed down a lot, but I had begun to think she was indestructible. Suddenly she started to have problems with breathing and her blood pressure started rising. Medications helped, but didn't cure.
My angel was starting her downward spiral.
Jacob tried to do what he could, but he was ninety two and had not completely recovered after his stroke. Their granddaughter Amelia moved in with them and helped as much as she could, which admittedly wasn't much. The home healthcare nurses did what they could to keep Bella comfortable, but I could tell she was tired and that she wouldn't be in this world much longer. Jacob cried often, but tried to hide it from her. She knew him far too well though, and spent much of her time telling him that they were lucky, they'd had a wonderful life. And they had.
One night, I got the call.
"Come," was all she said. I was already there. She was sitting on the porch swing outside, bundled up against the chill of the March winds in a winter jacket and a fleece blanket over her legs. She looked at me as I walked up the stairs and patted the seat next to her. I sat next to her, smelling the scent that had not changed over the years.
"For some strange reason, I thought you might look a little different. But you don't," she said, her voice gravelly from the constant coughing. I said nothing, choosing instead to simply look at her.
"I've had a good life. Look how blessed I've been. I've seen things I never expected to; had the most beautiful children in the world; loved my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. I've beaten cancer. I had a job that I loved and was good at. I survived the loss of my father and of my friends. I've been loved by not one, but two wonderful men. I'm very lucky, but I'm tired now. I'm ready to go on."
"Bella…" I tried.
She held up her hand. "I know what you're going to say, Edward. But I don't want it. I want to die. I want to be remembered for the person I was, I want to know that I've made a difference in the world somehow. But I don't want to live forever."
"So why did you call me?" I whispered. She touched my hand with hers, her skin paper thin against mine.
"I wanted you to know that I'm ready. I don't want you to mourn me anymore. You've spent the past seventy-five years mourning my loss, watching my life from the sidelines. You have to let me go, Edward. Yes, I knew you were there. Either you've lost your touch for hiding or I've just gotten good at finding you."
"Why didn't you tell me you knew?"
" Because I didn't need you. You told me to call anytime I needed you, but I didn't need you. I don't want to seem mean or rude, but I had everything I ever needed in Jacob. He completes me, Edward. He is the reason I've lasted this long, but he's also the reason I'm letting myself go. He worries and I just don't have it in me anymore to reassure him that everything will be fine because it won't be."
"You didn't need me before. But why did you call me? Why do you need me now?"
"Because I need you to let me go," she replied. "In my bedroom, there is enough morphine to stop my heart. There's also enough…"
"To stop my heart as well," I heard, and glanced up to find Jacob in the doorway of their home.
"Jacob," Bella started, but he held his hand up.
"Edward, you might understand. I can't live in a world where Bella does not exist. She's been my entire life since I was sixteen. You made me promise to take care of her, and I've given her everything she's ever wanted and more. Now she wants this, and I'm asking you as a friend. Please, take us out of this misery, but take us together. I don't want to be without her."
Tears were slipping down Bella's cheeks as she took the hand of her husband. "Please, Edward. You gave us our lives. Please, I'm begging you. Take them away."
Conflict raced through my mind, but when I looked into their eyes and at their joined hands, I knew what I had to do.
Bella had kissed my cheek before lying next to her husband in their bed. He wrapped his arms around her, kissed her deeply and whispered his everlasting love to her. I had given them medication to help them sleep and as they closed their eyes, they shared one final kiss.
Trying to gain my composure, I filled the syringes with the medication. As I looked down at Bella in the bed, I was brought back to the first night I had climbed in her window and had seen her lying in bed. I kissed her cheek and sobbed out an "I love you" as I injected the morphine into her vein, then did the same for Jacob. I carefully cleaned up the evidence and wrapped it so I could take it with me. I waited until I heard them take their final breaths and their hearts stopped beating. Then I took the medication I had wrapped in a sweater of Bella's and left through the window.
Now I found myself alone in the woods next to the cemetery where Bella and Jacob's family had decided to bury their loved ones. I listened as the pastor spoke about the two people who were so connected in life that God could not let one live without the other so he decided to take them both at the same time. I had played God. Was what I did right? Probably not, but if I ever did die, I was going to Hell anyway, I was almost okay with doing this, save for the fact that I had ended the life of the most wonderful woman I had ever known.
The last rites were said, and the family left the graveyard. Only I remained, watching as the cemetery workers lowered the twin caskets into the ground. I felt a warm breeze across my face and was amazed to smell the scent of Bella.
Edward…her voice whispered once in the breeze. I turned to where I had heard the voice and was rewarded with the sight of a young Bella and Jacob. She waved once to me, delighting me with her beautiful smile, and then took the hand of her husband and they disappeared.
Bella had lived her life. I had given her the gift of life when I agreed to join the Volturi Guard, and in her passing, she gave her life for me. I was free from the guard, free to be whoever Edward Cullen needed to be. Thanks to Bella, I knew I could go on and be a better man because of having her in my life.
finally, i want to say thanks to all of you! thank you so much for reading once upon a moon and my other fics as well. you've all been so supportive and understanding in the past year and a half when i started nursing school and didn't have the chance to update as much as you (and I!) would have liked. you've seen me through four stories by reading and reviewing.
i love you all very much and hope that you will continue to read my other stories that are still in progress and any stories that may come in the future.
beckiey8 on twitter