So, this is a little different because it was the first thing I ever wrote for this story. It may not be the ending you guys wanted for Bella and Edward but I did say that they would be together in the end...I just didn't say they'd be alive.
'Edward?' There was a soft voice and a hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently. 'Edward, can you hear? Can you wake up? Edward!' There was a touch of desperation in the angel's voice now. Slowly, Edward opened his eyes.
He opened and closed the rapidly a few times, refusing to believe what he saw. It was impossible, it could not be her. If he could dream this would have been the face that would have haunted him for the last ten years. The most beautiful sight he had ever seen, the one that shattered his heart to see but left him empty when he did not see it.
Truly, he must be damned.
'Bella?' His velvet voice was huskier than normal – emotion caused a lump in his throat. Edward swallowed.
The angel smiled – he knew that smile. That had been the smile directed at him a thousand times for a few short months of his existence. The only months he had been alive.
'Am I in Hell? Is this purgatory? Seeing you, knowing what I have done?'
'No, my love. Not Hell. This is the afterlife. Heaven. I told you, you would never be sent to Hell, you are too good.' Bella caressed his face and Edward leant into her hand, unable to believe he was feeling her again.
'No, I am not. Oh, Bella, I am so sorry.' Tears slid down Edward's face but he was so consumed by his pain that he did not notice. He felt arms slide around him, sitting him up. Bella pulled him close, resting his head on her shoulder, her cheek on top of his head. She rocked him as he wept.
'Shhh, love. Do not apologise. You gave me the most beautiful gift in the world. You gave us our daughter.'
'And then left you to die and she to be all alone after Charlie died. I killed you.' Edward wrapped his arms tight around her middle.
'You gave me eternal life. Not the way I was angling for I'll admit.' Edward raised his head to see a wry smile cross his love's face. 'I had everything I wanted. I would have lived forever for you, but I would have given up eternity, everything I wanted, for her.'
'She is beautiful. She looks just like you.'
'Really? From here she looks more like you.'
'You can see her?'
'I can see everything. This is Heaven and I am, well,' Bella looked at him sheepishly,' well, I was kind of made Cullen/Swan family guardian angel. You have no idea how stubborn you all are! Or how long it took me to get you to meet!'
'That was you?' Bella nodded. 'That voice in my head was you? I thought I was going insane. No one in a three-hundred mile radius and I'm being told to go to Minnesota!'
'Yeah, well, you took your sweet time to listen didn't you? You have one thick skull to get through. I thought I'd have to use the cosmic hatchet!'
'Meteorite. You think the angels just want to give you lot a pretty light show?' Bella stood and held out her hand. Without hesitation, Edward took it and she pulled him to his feet. She was surprisingly strong.
She laughed when he looked down at his hand as though it was a foreign object. 'It takes some getting used to but, I am afraid to say, you are no longer a vampire. You, like the rest of us, are simply dead.'
'No thirst?' Bella shook her head.
'No speed, or strength?' Again Bella shook her head. 'No need. You're dead. Just give a think and you are there. Try it.'
For the first time, Edward looked around him. They were in their meadow. It was even more beautiful than the earthly one. The sun was shining, but when Edward looked down at himself he did not see sparkles. He did not glitter like the unchangeable, unfeeling diamond he had been on Earth. For the first time, he was just a man standing in front of the woman he loved, not terrified that the next he touched her would be the time he broke her.
Edward grabbed Bella and pulled her close. 'What are you doing?' she asked.
'Testing a theory,' he smiled and bent his mouth to hers.
Her lips were soft, but not yielding like they had been, not the constant reminder that he must be careful. He gripped her arms more firmly and hers curled upwards to grab his elbows so she could steady herself. Edward traced her lower lip with his tongue and Bella gladly opened her mouth for him. His tongue swept inside – she was still as sweet as ever.
He finally pulled away and they both took ragged breaths. He was smug to see her lips were red and swollen from the attention. His own throbbed as the blood rushed back to them.
Bella gave a shaky laugh. 'Not the theory I was going to get you to test but that was ... good.' She laughed again, at herself this time.
A sudden pain ripped through Edward forcing him to his knees. He curled in on himself as Bella crouched next to him, her hands once again gripping his shoulders.
Edward tried to breathe through the pain, but it was too excruciating. 'What – what's happening?'
'It's your family. They have just learned of your death.'
'So this is...?'
'Grief, yes.' Bella nodded her head, looking sympathetic.
'Oh God, Bella!' He screamed her name. All he had wanted since leaving her was to die. He had often thought of, even planned his death. But for him that was the end. He knew – thought he had known – there was no afterlife for a monster like him so there could only be nothingness. Between the constant, unrelenting agony of loving Bella and being without her, and the oblivion death would bring, he wanted oblivion. Anything not to see her face every time he closed his eyes; not to yearn for the sound of her voice, her heartbeat; the feel of her skin.
He had never thought what his death would mean. For him, it meant nothing, a release from the torment of unfulfilled love. But for his family?
'What have I done?' Tears streamed down his face afresh. 'Esme, Alice, Carlisle.' How could he cause such anguish in such loving, tender souls?
'You died, Edward. Everyone does. Even immortals, eventually.'
'But their pain.' It washed over him again. This wave was more aggressive than the first, laced with fury and denial. 'Rose, Emmett, Jasper.' The worse was to come.
The third wave felt like he was being submerged in acid. Every pore, every cell burned. His brain could not process such emotion. An agonised scream tore its way out of his lungs and Edward slumped sideways onto the grass. Bella knelt and cradled his head in her lap, stroking his hair and whispers nonsense words of comfort. 'Nessie?'
Bella nodded, 'the pain of your own children is always the worst. You brought them into that world; they are half of yourself so it is the most difficult separation.'
'Separation? No! I do not want separation! I want my family! I want my daughter!' Edward had leapt to his feet and rounded on Bella in a fury. His abused brain rebelled against the sudden movement and his head swam.
Bella caught him as he stumbled and held him steady. 'Edward, listen to me. I know this is hard, I have been through it too and all I wanted was to disappear, to be nothing so I did not have to feel the pain. But it is over now. This separation is necessary.'
Edward tore himself away. For the first time he hated Bella. No, not Bella, what Bella was saying. 'It is NOT necessary! I do not accept that!'
'Edward, you are dead. This pain is your grief at losing them. This is moving on. One by one, the ties that bind are being cut. How do you think ghosts are made? They cannot deal with the pain so they return to Earth, thinking it will stop the pain. But it doesn't. It only intensifies with the disorientation. They do not belong there anymore but have rejected the next step. Their pain consumes them until only the anger remains. It turns them insane, makes them ghosts.'
Edward was shaking his head. 'Maybe, maybe with me it will be different, because I am – was – a vampire. I already died but still remained.'
Bella shook her head, 'it does not work that way. Your body died but your soul did not. It was sealed inside. Only by burning the body of a vampire can the soul be freed. This has happened to you. Edward, I am sorry, but it is truly over this time.'
Edward sank to his knees in mute horror – he had had a century of thinking he was immortal, yet only the last few years had meant anything to him. He had had only a few precious months with his daughter – most of them consumed by the pain and rage of Charlie's unexpected murder and the planning of vengeance.
He had wasted it. Time was the one thing he had always had and he had wasted it. He was stupid – a fool. If he had never left, if he had just been selfish and never left Bella to protect her, then he would have been there to save her. The irony burned in his gut and he laughed; it was a bitter, twisted laugh that made Bella look fearful.
"Edward? What ... why are you laughing?" She knelt beside him, peering into his eyes – now returned to their human green – as though the answer would be written in them.
But even as she asked the laughter turned to tears and Edward was sobbing once more. "I'm sorry, Bella. I'm so sorry. I thought it for the best but I just hurt you more – I killed you and I wasn't there for Nessie. Charlie had to raise her and the knowledge got him killed. I destroyed your family."
"Our family will heal.' Bella cupped Edward's face, trying to make him look at her but he refused. 'Charlie told me all about it when he got here – he's okay."
"Charlie's here?" Edward's head snapped up. Bella nodded. "Can I speak to him?" Bella nodded once more though she was confused by the request.
"Follow me," she stood and once more offered him her hand. He took it and together they walked out of the meadow and into the wood. Edward had no idea how long they walked – there was no sense of time in this place – but eventually the smell changed, and so did the light. He saw that the forest had subtly changed as they had moved and were now the woods at La Push. Edward knew that in a few moments – or steps, whatever – they would come out at the cliff. And so they did.
Waiting for them, at the cliff top, overlooking the sea, was Charlie Swan and Harry Clearwater. Bella glided over to her father and hugged him, then moved so she was next to Harry. Edward walked up, nervous at meeting the Chief once more, so he was surprised when Charlie put his arms around him and embraced him. "Thank you. I knew you'd keep her safe – I just didn't know how far you would go."
Edward returned the hug saying, "she was my child. I would have gone as far as necessary." They broke apart and shifted uncomfortably – what the hell do you do, as a guy, after hugging a dead man?
"Come, Bella. I think these two need to talk." Harry put his arm around Bella's shoulder and they moved away, following the path down to the beach. Edward took a step forward, but Charlie clapped a hand on his shoulder stopping him. "It's okay, Edward, she's not going anywhere. It's just that you and I do need to talk about some things. Bella's the guardian angel, but she's done her part now. It was decided that I would be better at ... introducing you to all this than her. I understand what it's like to lose a child so short after meeting them again. But you have to understand, it's not really like that – they're not really gone, not for us. You can see and guide them whenever you want to – they might even listen better to you when you're dead."
"But I don't want to leave," Edward said stubbornly.
"Yes, you did." As always, Charlie was direct. "In the instant of death, you welcomed it. You knew it would cost you your life to save your daughter and you paid the price gladly. You have wanted to die for so long, but for the wrong reasons – you wanted to end something, not start it. Your death will mean something – it will bring them all together. Both the Cullens and the La Push pack have lost someone dear to them, and Nessie too – being part of both, she has lost the most. They will turn to each other for comfort and help, and they will not be disappointed. You will be remembered."
"Who else?" Edward asked, not really wanting to know.
"Irina. And Brady," Charlie said sadly. "Your deaths pushed everyone to the edge and they fought like never before. The Volturi do not understand love and so had no chance against the power of grief. They were destroyed, their castle burnt to ash."
"We won?" Edward began to smile – a slow burner that began with barely the edges of his lips moving and ended in a grin of Cheshire cat proportions.
Charlie nodded. "You won – by a landslide I may add. The vampires no longer have anyone tracking their movements, but since life is so much easier when no one is aware of their presence, no one is going to tell the secret."
"What about the southern clans?" Edward had not really paid attention to them during the battle, to intent on protecting his own.
"The very few survivors have decided to disperse – the world seems so much larger now there is no ruling class. Besides, they got a good look at the wolves that would be coming after them if any of them starting building empires again."
"Bella said I could see Nessie ... before, in the meadow." Edward suddenly remembered.
An amused smile came across Charlie's face. "Yes, I wondered when we would get back to that. Well, come on then." He led the way down the path to the beach, Edward following behind, tripping and sliding in his haste. "Calm down, Edward," Charlie laughed, "it will still be there when we get there, no matter how long we take – time does not exist here."
"Why not?" that had been puzzling Edward, and throwing him off, ever since he got there.
Charlie shrugged, "don't need it."
They made it to the beach, which was mostly deserted. There was Harry, Bella, Irina, Brady – both of whom still looked as put out as Edward felt – Sarah Black (Jacob's mother) and Edward's own parents.
"Mother, Father?" The man and woman that rushed towards him were dressed in the clothes of the time they had died. It had been so distinctly separate, his life as a human and his life as a vampire that he had never really reconciled them. To see his father in a three piece suit, complete with pocket watch, and his mother in a floor length dress, while he stood in his jeans and layers of T-shirt and pullover, was very strange. It only heightened the feeling that he did not belong with them. The comparison was too much to ignore. They had not been a part of his life for so long and he could not even remember them; Edward found himself not knowing what to say. He went to hug his mother but his arms just swung back and forth, and his feet did not move at all. "I don't really understand. I'm a little confused," Edward admitted.
"We know it must be difficult, son." No, the difficult thing was hearing Edward Masen Senior calling him son – he did not sound at all like Carlisle, with a low, gravelly voice, and it did not feel right to Edward.
"Yes, but ... I really don't know what to do. I mean, you're my parents, I know that, it's just I don't remember that." Edward dragged his hand through his hair, messing it up, in a movement so familiar to his mother. Elizabeth Mason went to pat his hair down as she always had while they had lived, but Edward ducked away, not used to mothering from anyone but Esme.
Tears welled up in Elizabeth Mason's eyes and Edward felt like a cad for hurting her.
"This might help – it's what I've been trying to get you to see since the meadow." Bella tugged on his hand and led him to the water's edge. "Well, go on then." She gave him a little push and Edward stepped into the water. "Further." Edward became to wade, the water up to his knees.
He turned around to look at Bella. "When do I know to stop?"
"You'll know," she said cryptically, not instilling great confidence in him but he continued when she waved him on.
Edward walked until it was up to his chest. Then he felt the pull and he disappeared below the waves. Water rushed around him, but there was no instinct to panic, or to try to breath. He let the water moved over and around him, not really knowing what to expect. He spun in a circle, just for something to do, wondering why he was taking a swim when the love of his – well, not life, but of his something – was waiting for him on the shore.
As he spun he thought it saw something. He spun again, trying to work out what direction the whatever-it-was had come from. Light danced through the waves and he saw images appearing, like holograms. Faces, people; it was all very strange. He swam to one particular ray of light. As soon as he broke the light's path, he was blown into a million pieces; it was not painful – he was dead so nothing was painful anymore – but it was intensely disorientating. When he came back together again, he saw he was standing in the middle of a room that looked like it was the set for a Dickens' novel. On the bed was a bronze haired woman with a bundle in her arms, a man was sat on the bed next to her, his hand outstretched to touch the bundle.
"Oh, sorry. I did not mean to interrupt." Edward looked at them – they had not reacted at all to his presence, in fact, the woman had sighed, totally content, as she gazed lovingly at the thing in her arms.
"What shall we call him?" the man asked.
"Edward, after his father." The woman smiled and kissed the man's bemused expression. Disbelief turned to pride until the man – Edward – looked like he would burst with it.
"Edward." the father took the baby from the woman. "Welcome to the world, Edward Anthony Masen Junior." The baby gurgled and the man smiled, overcome with joy.
No freaking way, Edward thought. This is the aftermath of my birth – this is Chicago 1901!
To prove his theory, Edward did something he did not think he had ever done – he jumped and began bouncing on the bed. Higher and higher he bounced and the little family did nothing – both parents were completely focused on the baby, not noticing the strangely dressed teenager using their bed for a trampoline.
Right, thoughtEdward, stopping abruptly – the Masons did nothing. That settles it.
Without warning, the room spun and when it stopped Edward found he was in a park of some kind. The same woman, Elizabeth Masen, was sat on a bench, watching indulgently as her two Edwards lay on a blanket, pointing out cloud shapes. The boy Edward could only be a few years old – five, or six at most.
This is very weird, Edward thought. I am watching the events of my life – my human life.
And so he did. He would watch for a while before the surroundings would spin again, and he would be somewhere knew. Birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, and ordinary days too, Edward saw them all and with each clip, he would remember more of his life. He watched himself grow until he knew he was nearing the end. He watched a blazing argument between himself and his father, as his mother watched on in tears.
I wanted to be a soldier, Edwardremembered. I wanted to sign up and fight the good fight.
Then the influenza struck and he watched as first his father, then his mother died. His father was quick, but his mother lingered, making sure her son was safe. Edward watched her finally fade away, before being taken to the morgue by Carlisle. He followed as Carlisle came back to him and snuck him to his house. He watched at Carlisle him.
Ooh, it seems even worse from this angle, Edward thought, putting his hand to his neck where the teeth marks had long since healed, remembering the pain.
Carlisle stayed with him for the whole three days. Then Edward Cullen awoke as a vampire.
The room spun and when it stopped, Edward found himself again on the beach, waist deep in the sea.
He waded out and over to his parents, so intent on getting to them he never noticed his clothes were dry. He threw his arms around them both and they hugged him back. "I'm so sorry." He pulled away and looked at Edward Sr. "Father, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to argue so much with you. I know you loved me, but I wanted to be a soldier. I was not like you, I had not found something worth living for – I had hoped the War would give me some purpose, some direction so I could make you both proud. Instead, I made you angry."
His mother stroked his face and Edward leaned into the caress. "We were not angry, love, we were worried. Our only child, our son, talking about going off to war. I was so scared of losing you."
"And we lost each other anyway," Edward said sadly.
"We have been here, the whole time." Edward Sr spoke – after the memories Edward was no longer disconcerted by his human father's voice. He felt comforted, remembering how safe the deep, husky voice had made him feel, when his father, sounding so sure, had assured him there were no monster under his bed as a child. "We have watched as you grew. And you did grow Edward. When you met Bella, you changed. We were worried that you were too young when you were transformed, that you were not ready. We did not realise you were just waiting for her." He smiled kindly at Bella, who thread her arms around one of Edward's and leant her head on his shoulder.
"Now for the fun part." Charlie addressed the group. "The part we have finally got to."
"I thought that I just did it. Wasn't that what Bella was talking about?" Edward frowned.
"No, that was an ... initiation process, for lack of better term. Everyone has baggage they have to deal with when they first get here."
"Think of it as a baptism, Edward," said Bella when he still looked confused. "It's really the only way to get your head around it – washing away the vestiges of your life, so you can truly join the afterlife."
Okay, baptism made sense to Edward, sort of.
He turned to Bella, "so now I get to understand what you said about seeing everything?" She nodded. "The whole meteorites bit?" She grinned and nodded again. "Okay, bring on the light show."
The whole group walked up the beach and turned to look at the horizon.
"So, what's –" Edward began.
"Shh, just watch," said Bella, taking his hand. "And listen." The sun began to set, strewing the water with pinks and gold, oranges and reds.
"Wow," Irina breathed. She sounded awestruck, and younger than Edward had ever heard her before.
The light danced and, as the sun hit the water, wave of light rippled over the surface of the waves, rolling over them. When his sight returned and he blinked light spots out of his vision, Edward found he could see everything from where he stood.
"What was that?" he asked.
Bella shrugged delicately. "We don't know, we never asked. We call it the Gateway. The dying sun's light let's you glimpse the living. At night, while they sleep, we watch over them."
Bella gripped his hand, "come on, let's get to Billy's – that's where everyone is."
The group moved silently, gliding through La Push until they reached Billy's. They walked inside and saw the tribe and the Cullens, and Nessie, all gathered. There was clearly not enough room but no one wanted to go anywhere else. They all leant on each other, tears pouring down the faces of those who could cry as they remembered those they had lost. Everyone had a drink to toast the dead – the Cullens' were still full, but the rest were quickly getting to the bottom of their glasses.
It was a strange feeling – no matter how close Edward got, he felt a divide between himself and the living, like there was a one way mirror between them and only he could see out.
"It's the veil," Bella said, before he could ask. "It's hard, being this close, but not being able to touch."
"It makes me feel like I might as well be on the other side of the world, for all the good I'm doing." He looked down at Nessie, curled up, looking tiny on Jacob's lap. Tears were falling thick and fast and she had long since given up trying to wipe them away. Jacob had his cheek resting on her head and his tears made her hair as wet as her tears made his chest. They clung to each other, as though terrified the other would disappear if they let go. "What do I do?" Edward looked helplessly at Bella.
"Talk to her."
"And tell her what?" The pain of watching his child grieving grew in Edward's chest – so the dead felt pain after all.
Bella shrugged. "Whatever you want, whatever you need to. Consciously, she can't hear you, but it is getting through, I promise."
Feeling stupid, Edward knelt down and laid his hand on top of Nessie and Jacob's entwined ones. He looked over at Brady, who was talking to a weeping Collin, but he could not hear him clearly.
Irina looked around but her family was not present. Closing her eyes, Irina focused on them and disappeared.
"What you tell them is theirs to hear, and yours to share," Bella told him. "Tell her what's in your heart, Edward. She has a right to know." Then she backed away, leaning into Charlie who kissed her head – at least one small part of the family reunited.
And so Edward spoke, telling his daughter of the first time he saw her mother, his reaction of running away and then coming back. Of how amazed he was that she had loved him in return. How scared he was when James had Bella, and then when Jasper attacked her, how he knew he had to let her go. He told of the empty years before Bella, and the torturous years after her. He told Nessie of hearing Bella's lullaby after all that time sure that it was a sign, of the final year with his family before he returned to Forks. Of finding her and realising that, no matter how much he had messed it up, and how differently he would have done things if he could do them again, his life had meant something – he had helped create something prefect, something unregrettable. He had helped create Nessie, and that was worth the pain, though he wished he could have been a part of her life from the beginning, had more time than the few, furious final months. He spoke until the sun rose, and the mourners began to move again.
He spoke for hours, until the twilight hours were over and the dawn approached.
"It's time to go Edward." Bella took his hand and he unwillingly walked to the beach. The sun rose and the light flashed and they were back to the spirit plane, no longer amongst the living.
"You can see her you know, whenever you want." Bella took him to the cliffs and looking down at the water crashing below, they saw. They saw the Cullens, the tribe and Nessie get back on their feet and pick up the threads of their old lives. They watched as Nessie married Jacob. They watched over her pregnancies and the births of their grandchildren. They spent their nights in the nursery, watching their grandchildren dream, singing softly and lulling them back to sleep when they were disturbed.
The dead watched as those left behind joined them one by one. The years past and the beach got more crowded. Eventually, it was the end of all things and the last of the large family was returned to the fold – the ageless Cullens, and Nessie and Jacob Black, their vampiric shape-shifter descendants.
The night after the end, Bella and Edward sat on the cliffs, watching their family, no vampire/human/shape-shifter distinction; all just harmonious dead. "See, Edward. Death comes to us all, even the immortal. No separation lasts forever."
He nodded – there was no need to speak this night; Bella was wrapped in his arms and the family was all once again whole.
No, no separation lasted forever.
The end! Maybe. I wasn't sure after I wrote the other chapters. If you think there needs to be a filler between the chapter nineteen and this one then let me know when you review and I'll write it!
Reviews are good, so write them. Now.