Summer 2010 Shimmer Pawn Award – Best Post Breaking Dawn
Twilight Awards – Best Supernatural – Original Character – Runner Up
The Vampies – I Can't Believe It's Not Sparkly Winner (Best AU)
The Walk of Fame – Danger Diva & The Hopelessly Devoted Author
The Vampies – Bloody Brilliant – Best Overall
Sunflower Awards – Best Other Character – Henry Cullen
Avante Garde – Hall of Fame – Harvest Moon
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created it all.
Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.
Under the Harvest Moon, Carl Sandburg
6 years after the Volturi visited Forks
I gazed down onto Bella's head as she helped me tie the fancy cravat knot required for the tuxedo I was wearing. I had known for years that sooner or later, this time would come. It didn't make it any easier. She was going to live forever, so why the hurry?
In retrospect, I could comprehend. I remembered clearly how difficult it had been to wait for my own wedding once the decisions had been made. I truly would have been satisfied with eloping to Vegas. As with my wedding, Alice had won again…and again, another Cullen wedding would be marred by tragedy, heartbreak, and fear.
My wife, attuned to my senses as no other, reached to place her hand on my face. "It's going to be fine."
"I know," I huffed, looking down. "She's still my little girl. It just seems like yesterday she was being born. There just hasn't been enough time."
Bella's gaze caught mine again, and she slowly smiled. I don't know how long I stood looking into her eyes. My rock…I wonder if she truly understood. Words were woefully inadequate to describe her meaning in my life. Yes, life…I could call it that now.
Her smile brightened mischievously. "Just don't read their thoughts and maybe you'll get through it without killing him."
"You just made it worse. I'm still attempting to forget the last visions he had in his mind." I shook my head, smirking.
She snorted. "Just remember how it is for us, and know it's the same way for them."
I hissed. "Love, it's okay for me to contemplate my desires for you, but to think of someone touching her that way…"
She started laughing and ran her fingers through my hair pulling my face to hers. Passion can take on so many different nuances. Bella could drive me to the brink of insanity with one touch. She could be gentle, demanding, or whimsical depending on her mood. This kiss, it had the potential to flair instantly, but as always she knew my needs. Her lips gentled my soul, the fears, and the doubts.
With a sad expression she whispered, "She'll be fine…he loves her beyond all rational thought. He'll do anything to protect her. She'll want for nothing. Is any of this sounding familiar?"
I playfully smacked her bottom. "I'm not sure I appreciate you comparing me to him."
She rolled her eyes. "Sure you don't. Go socialize with the guests. I have to help her escape Alice and Rosalie."
I chuckled. "Bella, she loves the attention. You're the one who came down here to escape them."
"Too true," she grimaced.
She began what she probably intended to be another brief comforting kiss, but I had other ideas. When I finally released her body, she uncharacteristically staggered (or characteristically, depending on which Bella you knew) a few steps. "I'll make you pay later," her hoarse whisper claimed.
I simply groaned out, "Please." Her eyes promising retribution, she drunkenly slipped out of the room grinning.
I shrugged into the jacket and began my descent. It was bittersweet to traverse the hallways of the Forks house again. We had left here after Jacob's graduation, forging ahead with our plans of college for him and Bella. Unlike our other moves, many things had stayed to provide a quick retreat if needed. Walking into my and Bella's cottage felt like returning home. The Quileute leaders had done a wonderful job of watching the place. Rose's only half-hearted complaint had been about the dog trails.
Rose…so much heartbreak. She and Emmett weren't speaking. It was odd to see them sitting in the same room not touching or even arguing. She barely acknowledged him. Both had been insistent on being here today. Emmett looked to his love, as a man lost, heartbreak clearly etched across his face. Rose wasn't to be blamed. This wasn't an example of her self righteous, self-absorbent behavior. Henry had truly changed Rose into a better person. His absence destroyed her. Ironically, I now served as Rose's stability…I knew a little about how vampires experience loss.
I stopped at the end of the hall to look down into the living area. As I gazed without seeing, my mind raced through memories of the events of the past years. Collages of images raced through my mind, pleasant interspersed with painful. The losses experienced within our extended family. My family settling into the houses Esme found close to the University, the family 'dinners' we had around the table. I guess it would be more correct to say the dinners Jacob and Seth had around the table as we watched. Our experiences at college. Henry…the heartbreak…my pain at his absence was an intense ache. Our visits to the Denali and South American covens and the consequences of those visits. Jacob's face the day he found Nessie alone with Nahuel, and the events that followed. Today was her day…she'd made her choice. I shook myself out of my reflection.
I saw Esme at the bottom of the staircase with her arm around Charlie and began to descend toward them. They were conspiring about the possibility of being great-grandparents together. Couldn't anyone stop thinking about the possibilities of the honeymoon tonight? It was killing me. We didn't even know whether or not the hybrid vampires could conceive. But, I would rather be torn limb from limb than ruin Esme's fun. If it was possible for her to find this comfort in the face of the absences that would be apparent here today, so be it. She could continue to insult me with her thoughts of my child's impending sexual liberation. She sensed my presence and caught my hand at the bottom of the stairs, pulling me to her.
"Here's the handsome father of the bride," she stated.
Charlie took one look at my face and snickered. "Tough being in this position, huh? Now you know one of the reasons I glared daggers before your wedding."
"Charlie," I acknowledged extending my hand.
"Edward," he stated smiling, according the same favor. "Is Bella up with Nessie? I'd love to see them before the ceremony starts."
I grinned. "If you're brave enough to venture into the Alice/Rosalie no man land." Charlie appeared terrified. "Charlie, they'll truly be pleased to see you. They're in my old room, third floor, just follow the giggling."
Esme watched as Charlie began to climb the stairs. "He looks like he's going to meet an executioner," she commented.
"Isn't he?" I joked. "We are talking about Alice." It was good to see her smile. I saw, for the briefest moment, a small glimpse of what the past held for my family during my extended absence. "I love you, mom."
"As I do you, son. Nessie is going to be a stunning bride. This is going to be a beautiful ceremony. It'll be a celebration, no matter the other events that have occurred to lead us to this."
I hugged her to my chest and teased, "You are the most beautiful grandmother I've ever seen." Catching me off guard, her shove did set me back a foot.
"Don't forget it either," she chimed. "I remind your father of that everyday." Releasing her I began looking around the room to locate Carlisle. He and Jasper were sitting close to Emmett. I could feel the waves of calmness surrounding the group.
We were surrounded by our family and friends. I saw Huilen and the Denali Clan speaking in the corner. The Quileute families intermingled, providing contrasts in light and dark. Our Irish friends remained on the porch, and I caught a quick glance of Seth's profile.
Esme must have been gazing in the same direction. "My boys … you all look incredibly handsome today. Have you seen how much Seth has grown just in the short time since we saw him last?"
Light filled my heart, Seth … yes so many positives. It was easy to lose perspective. My mother was a wise individual. The problem with light, though, is that it had to eventually give into twilight and then darkness…
As many authors say on here, reviews are like heroin. Please leave me your thoughts!
Author's note: Several of my readers have convinced me to add a short note at the end of this chapter to clarify two things. First, this is not a break up Emmett and Rose story. Rose is a little mad with Emmett at this point, and it will make sense as the story progresses. You meet Henry in the first three chapters - yes, he is worth waiting for - and no, he isn't a love interest for Rose in the way you think.
All credit goes to my two totally awesome Betas:
CullenFest - for her patience with me and my anxiety about writing.
Crmcneill - for his mighty red pen, and help in mapping out strategy.