Summary: From the passenger seat on the way home from prom, Bella learns why and why else going to the dance was so important to Edward.
Notes: Written for the Twilight Gift Exchange for Melissa228/melvixen. Her prompt: Edward telling Bella stories/reflecting on his childhood with his parents before they died. Vampire/Canon.
Disclaimer: Still not mine.
"Bella." His fingers lightly traced the shape of my lips. "I will stay with you – isn't that enough?"
I smiled under his fingertips. "Enough for now."
He frowned at my tenacity. No one was going to surrender tonight. He exhaled, and the sound was practically a growl.
I touched his face. "Look," I said. "I love you more than everything else in the world combined. Isn't that enough?"
"Yes, it is enough," he answered, smiling. "Enough for forever."
And he leaned down to press his cold lips once more to my throat.
--Twilight pg. 498
"M'lady," Edward said as he opened his Volvo's passenger door for me. He held my hand as I maneuvered my way into the seat, my clunky cast almost getting stuck in the opening between the car and the door. I rolled my eyes-- I couldn't wait to get rid of that thing. People with broken legs are clearly clumsy enough as it is, I thought to myself. Whoever came up with the brilliant idea of weighing them down with pounds of heavy plaster? It was sheer luck that I'd managed not to break anything else on the dance floor.
"Well what?" I turned to Edward, who was sitting with his hands on the steering wheel, though the car remained in park.
"Prom wasn't so bad after all, now, was it?"
I rolled my eyes again. "I admit, it had its... moments." He smiled smugly at me and put the car in reverse, swiftly backing out and exiting the school parking lot. "But I still say dances, and proms in particular, are just not me."
"What are you talking about, Bella? You look beautiful tonight. You danced beautifully." I started to scoff, but he ignored me and continued. "Like it or not, you belonged at that prom."
"Just don't make me go to another, okay?" I leaned my head back on the headrest, looking at Edward and making my best attempt at puppy-dog eyes. He laughed and I scowled. I would never get the hang of feminine wiles.
"Well, there's still Senior Prom next year. And then surely there will be formals in college. I wouldn't declare your dancing days over just yet."
The idea of endless dances stretched out in front of me, one embarrassing moment after another, made me shudder. Edward may have been a great dancer, but the promise of waltzing on top of his shoes for years to come, getting older, going from high school dances to college formals as he stayed perpetually seventeen, took my mood down a few notches. I felt myself reverting to the bitter Bella I'd been on the way to the dance, after I'd realized where we were going.
"I don't want to go to stupid college formals. I don't even want to go to stupid college. I want to be with you," I muttered. I could see him tense beside me.
"Bella. Not that the subject is up for discussion again, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Even if you... got your way... you could still go to college. Each of us have countless degrees. And you could still go to formals. There would just be so much more you'd be missing out on," he said wistfully.
I glanced over at him skeptically. "Vampires go to formals? Do they rush sororities, too?"
"We went to prom tonight, didn't we?" He raised an eyebrow at me. "But no, not typically. We try to keep ourselves out of student activities as much as possible. You saw how the others were dancing tonight-- even how you and I were dancing. Everything about us draws attention."
"So why go tonight?" I felt my frustration at being forced into a prom dress creeping back. "You knew this was one human experience I wouldn't want. So why make me go?"
He was silent for a few moments. I looked out the window and watched the blur of greens and browns whip by. Finally he spoke, quietly.
"Maybe this was a human experience I wanted."
I looked up at him quizzically as silence descended once more. I couldn't fathom that a vampire with all the experiences and opportunities that Edward had had actually wanting to spend an evening in a grimy high school gymnasium.
"Forks High Junior Prom?"
He chuckled, just a little. "Not so specifically. Just... standing beside a beautiful girl in a beautiful dress, dancing so close with someone I care so much about. I've existed for a long time, but it's not something I've ever gotten to do."
"What about... you know, before?" I always felt a little uncomfortable broaching the subject of Edward's life as a human. We'd spoken of it so little. I knew that a vampire's memories of their time before the change could be fuzzy, but I often wondered what Human Edward had been like.
"Before I was changed?" he asked, eyebrows raising. I nodded, and watched his face as his mouth formed a thin line, brow creased as if he were trying to remember. "There were dances. I went to a few. I danced with a few girls in pretty dresses."
I felt a swell of irrational jealousy at the thought of Edward dancing with anyone but me, but ignored it.
"There was no one I cared about like I care about you, though. You know that." He turned more fully towards me, and I suppressed the fleeting thought that he should really be keeping his eyes on the road. "I've never, in all my years of existence, loved anyone but you, Bella. And that's why the Forks High Junior Prom was special."
I felt my heart melt a little bit, my bitterness over being forced to dance slipping away. Edward's eyes were back on the road, and as I watched him he appeared to still be a little lost in thought.
"I was more concerned about the war effort and the White Sox box scores than perfecting my foxtrot, but my parents loved to dance." He spoke quietly, and I felt inclined to hold my breath lest I ruin this rare glimpse into Edward's human past. "Well, my mother loved to dance," he amended, a soft smile on his face, "and my father would do anything my mother asked of him.
"Whenever they would go out for a night on the town, it was always dinner and dancing, and she would be so excited. She would hum as she pinned her hair up and put on her jewelry. She appreciated a night of dancing," he added, giving me a sly side-long glance.
"Yeah, but those were probably elegant, elaborate balls your parents went to. I doubt those dances consisted of sweaty half-dressed teenagers booty-dancing and Jessica Stanley trying to stuff the Prom Queen ballot box all night," I said exasperatedly.
That elicited a laugh. "No, no they didn't. And I'll never understand the evolution of dance in this century. If you can even call it that."
"So, your parents went out dancing a lot, huh?" I asked, trying to steer the topic away from the prom.
"They did. And until I was deemed old enough to stay home on my own, an elderly neighbor of ours would watch me while they were gone." He frowned slightly. "I can't remember her name. So many of my memories of this time are like remembering dreams-- as soon as you hold them in your mind, they slip away." Then, with a wry look, "Not that I remember what remembering dreams is like all that well, either. It's been a long time since I was able to dream."
It seemed like such a somber reality-- the inability to dream. For all that I knew I would gain if Edward were to give in to my desire to be changed, I knew that I would be giving up just as much. But I loved Edward, and right then I didn't want to think about my future. I wanted to hear about his past.
"It's okay that you don't remember your neighbor's name," I said, trying my hand at an encouraging tone.
"I wish that I could."
"Well. Let's call her Mrs. Bigglesnotter."
He looked at me incredulously, but with a hint of humor on his face. "Mrs. Bigglesnotter?"
"What? It was the first funny name I could think of off the top of my head," I said defensively. He just shook his head and chuckled. At least he seemed to have been broken out of his solemnity.
"Okay. Mrs. Bigglesnotter it is."
"Do you remember anything about Mrs. Bigglesnotter?"
"We would play cards together. Gin rummy, mostly. She let me win. And she always smelled of almonds."
I laughed at that, grateful at the lighter mood.
"Once I got a little older my parents would allow me to stay by myself when they went out. But I would still watch them as they got ready. My mother would be floating around the house, making sure she looked perfect while my father tapped his foot impatiently in the foyer." He paused. "It's funny the things you remember. There's so much I can't recall about my father, so much that's just fuzzy details, but I remember clear as day what a stickler for punctuality he was. And my mother? Always late. She once took so long to get ready to go to the theater with my father that by the time they arrived, it was curtain call. He used to bring that up whenever she seemed to be running behind before their nights out. She would always respond, 'Would you prefer to be seen with your wife, or with your beautiful wife? These things take time.'"
"See? You remember more than you think."
He looked thoughtful for a moment. "It helps to talk about them, I think. Just like any other kind of skill or ability, if you don't use it, you lose it. Even for vampires."
"I wouldn't mind if you talked about them more often," I said. "I like to hear about your past."
We slipped back into a comfortable silence. Looking out the window, I could see that we were nearing my house. I could also make out the passing surroundings much more clearly than before-- at some point, Edward had slowed down considerably from his usual breakneck speed. I smiled to myself, pleased that he seemed to enjoy telling me about his family as much as I enjoyed hearing about them.
"My clearest memory of my parents-- and I mean so clear it's as if it happened earlier this evening-- is of a night when they were about to go dancing," Edward began. "I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs as they were about to leave the house. It was probably when I was seventeen, only a few months before we all got sick. My father stood in his tuxedo by the front door, twisting his hat in his hands and checking his pocket watch over and over. My mother was as late as ever. He was clearly irritated, sighing and scowling, but then suddenly an awed expression came over his face as he looked over my shoulder. I turned around and saw my mother descending the stairs. She looked...resplendent. Her gown was long and deep red; her hair was in an elegant twist and her eyes sparkled as brightly as her diamond earrings. All the irritation and annoyance just... melted away from my father's face at the sight of her. He helped her into her coat once she reached the foyer, and they bade me goodnight. 'Have fun,' I said. 'Oh, we always do,' she answered, took my father's arm and walked out the door." A moment's silence went by. "And that's it. The clearest memory of them that I have."
"They really loved each other."
"I believe they did."
We had reached Charlie's house by then, and Edward parked in the driveway and turned off the ignition. I could sense that he had more to say, so I sat silently and waited.
"Almost one hundred years later, I still remember exactly how beautiful my mother looked that night. And one hundred years from now, I will still remember exactly how beautiful you looked tonight, cast and all."
I could feel a blush coming on, and looked down at my lap, but he reached out and gently turned my face up to look at him.
"Thank you for giving me this human experience tonight, Bella. And I hope we can both have many more human experiences in the future," he said meaningfully, leaning his face closer to mine as he held my chin in his hand. "I don't ever want you to miss out on any of this," he whispered as he drew closer, bypassing my cheek and placing a soft, lingering kiss on my neck, just below my jawbone. My eyelids fluttered closed. I felt as if I would never get used to the electricity of his closeness. As quickly as the quiet moment had begun, it passed, and he pulled away.
"Now. Shall we?" he asked, gesturing toward the house. The lights were on downstairs and my eyes narrowed suspiciously as I thought I saw a curtain quickly drawn shut. "I'm sure Charlie wants to hear all about the prom," Edward teased.
"Oh, I'm sure he does," I said, laughing. Edward exited the driver's side and came around to help me out of the car, and we walked up the front path, arm in arm.
Prom night had never been on my list of things to do before I died. And even though it had gone over as well as could be expected, dancing was still not something I longed to do more of. But as Edward gently lifted me off the ground so I wouldn't struggle up the front steps with my cast, I recognized that I was as grateful as he was to have had this night, this one particular human experience. And that was enough. For now.