Stephenie Meyer owns everything that has to do with Twilght, what's left here is mine.
Sarahsumbrella and silentnc - what can I say but a heartfelt Thank You. You made this so much fun, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help and support. I looked forward each and every time for your comments and suggestions and corrections. Thanks to Project Team Beta for hooking me up with these wonderful ladies - the PTB link is on my profile page. Great group - what a wonderful resource. Much love to Twilightzoner over on Twilighted for her quick validation, catching things we didn't, and just generally being awesome.
This is it, my friends. I've got a bit to say at the end, please bear with me, and I hope you enjoy!
EPILOGUE: This Tale, of the Spider and the Fly
We stayed in Hoquiam for a short time, mostly for Esme's sake. Neither Bella nor I could bring ourselves to leave her after the ordeal we had all been through, so we stayed until her worry and fear of losing us began to abate. It wasn't easy, I was slightly ashamed to admit. The urge to have my wife all to myself, to indulge ourselves in each other, was almost overwhelming. As soon as we could, as soon as it felt right, Bella and I began considering our options for being out on our own for a while. I looked at new properties, as well as the plethora of options we had of real estate already in the Cullen family portfolio.
It wasn't long before we settled on the ideal location. There was a plot of undeveloped land that had been in our family for many years, located in the breathtaking wilds of Northern Michigan – remote, extremely private forest with no access that humans or creatures of any nature would find convenient. It was the ideal location for a private home for just the two of us, a place we could be together and Bella could safely adjust to her new life. Human civilization wasn't so very far that we couldn't interact with them when necessary, when Bella was finally ready to test her control.
Esme designed our house, and she and Carlisle supervised the construction while Bella and I stayed in Hoquiam. We spent as much time as we could with the rest of our family, knowing we would be separated for a time. The thought was sad, but also somewhat exciting to be on our own, finally together, and able to indulge in the selfish desires of newly mated vampires.
The house was finally finished in the early winter, and the entire Cullen clan came with us to help move us in and give us a housewarming party, just the eight of us. While I loved my family dearly and had missed them very much over the past few misguided years, I couldn't wait for them to leave. I couldn't wait to have Bella all to myself, with no fear, worry, or concerns hanging over us. I wanted to run, just for the pleasure of it. I wanted to hunt, to feed, to make love with abandon. I wanted to talk, to listen, to revel in being with my wife, my mate. I wanted to put all of the volatile, recent past behind us and just be. We had over one thousand acres of forest crawling with privacy and wildlife of all forms, and we had all the time in the world.
We made excellent use of it, as the months rolled by. We made only tentative plans for the future. Bella grew stronger in her control and confidence, and she decided she did want to return to school in Paris. I realized I never had gotten a Literature degree, and figured I should take advantage of the opportunity. We decided to enjoy our time alone together. We would gradually expose Bella to humans until she felt secure enough to interact with them on a daily basis, and then we would travel back to Paris. Neither of us knew if this would take months or years, but there was no rush, no sense that we needed to hurry. We were happy in our home, our place in the world, the wilderness, and just being together.
One particular evening found us sitting in front of the fire in our cozy living room, both of us on the sofa. The fire was for atmospheric effect; we had both found it amusing that we enjoyed the heat it gave off as much as the flickering light and subtle crackling sounds. She was absorbed in one of her beloved books, her legs tucked underneath her as she read. I inhaled slowly, savoring the tangy wood smoke and stirring scent that was my wife. The deep blue of the loose, thin pants and top she wore accentuated her lovely skin and deep mahogany hair. I felt a stupid, sentimental smile on my face as I gazed at her and simply marveled that we were here, together, content.
A small smirk tilted her mouth as she turned a page, not taking her gaze from the book. Her hand reached out for mine, and I held it tenderly. I glanced down at the journal in my lap, a comforting yet strange feeling permeating my body. I started slightly in surprise as I realized we were living the scene from Alice's vision, the one she had before the Volturi had sent James after me – the vision that followed the one of me carelessly snapping the head off of an offending vampire, cold and malevolent in my robes that signified me as leader of the Volturi. This was Alice's vision of Bella and I, sitting in our home in the wilderness, together, wanting for nothing in this world but each other.
At my small movement, Bella lifted her head to gaze at me questioningly, concern showing in her beautiful golden eyes.
"I've seen this before," I murmured, bringing her hand to my lips. "I saw us here, in our home, happy and content, in one of Alice's visions. This is our alternate future – my alternate future, the one I feared I would never find." Understanding flooded her features, and she slid closer, lifting her other hand to stroke through the mess of my hair. "Without you, Bella, that other future was what I was headed for. I was a monster, until you."
"Shut up, you stupid, silly man." Her eyes glowed with love and exasperation as they met mine. "You never were a monster, Edward, you never could be. You had just convinced yourself you were, through your own self-hatred at what you thought you'd become. But Carlisle was right – he's always been right. It's not what you are, but what you do with what you're given. You've always been the man I see right now. I love you, Edward. I love everything about you, even when you're being stupid or you drive me crazy and make me so angry I could tear your arm off and beat you with it. I couldn't love a monster."
She humbled me, this generous, giving woman. I didn't dare say it out loud, not right now, not after what she had just expressed, but I knew that I didn't deserve her. I was, however, determined to keep her for as long as the fates decided we had together. I brushed my thumb across her lower lip as we stared at each other, and I heard the increase in both of our breathing.
"I want you, Edward," she said, in an echo of the voice she used after she was first turned, in the forest after her first hunt.
I leaned back, opening my arms, my heart, and my soul to her in a mimic of my own gesture from that moment.
Thank you. I don't know what else to say except - thank you. Thanks for sticking with me, thanks for reading this little story. This has been an absolute thrill for me, not only sitting back down and writing again, but the response has been wonderful, especially since I don't "advertise" much. Thanks to everyone who talked about this story, rec'd it, and helped pimp me out - especially u2shay - thanks, girl! Go check out her story "That Girl".
I'll have some updates on the prequel and any other future plans for the story (outtakes, etc.) on the Twilighted thread as they come up - http:/www(dot)twilighted(dot)net/forum/viewtopic(dot)php?f=33&t=7172 replace the (dot) with an actual dot .
Any comments, questions, suggestions, etc. - always welcome, either review or PM me, as always.
Thanks, gang. See you soon.