"For the Love of Jasper" One-Shot Contest
Title: Always Charmed
Pen name: Dalia907
Existing work: N/A
Primary Players: Bella/Jasper
Disclaimer: I don't own twilight or it's characters, I just like to mess with their heads.
To see other entries in the "For the Love of Jasper" contest, please visit the C2:www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/community/For_the_Love_of_Jasper_Contest/72564/
Summary: Bella and Jasper quickly become inseparable after a chance pairing in a secret Santa exchange at six years old. Life, love and a failing heart aren't enough to keep them apart. AH, OCC. Entry in the "For The Love Of Jasper" Contest.
May 23, 2009, 11:54pm
I couldn't breathe. The air just wouldn't stay in my lungs. In fact, my whole body instantly felt as if it was in the midst of a mutiny - my knees buckled, my head throbbed, my throat constricted, and the acid in my stomach churned and threatened to burn it's way right through the closed passage in my gullet. I was shaking so uncontrollably that the tiny charms on my bracelet were clanging together. That noise was the only one I heard above all the cries, above the incessant woman in front of me asking if I was okay, above the cell phone that was furiously vibrating in my pocket. All the commotion around me purely ceased, except for the violent tinkling sound of the bracelet vacillating on my wrist.
My watery eyes were fixed upon those shivering charms. Each one was a memory, a story that was shared only between the best of friends. Some were glorious. Some were painful. All of them were strictly reserved for us…only us…
But now there was no more us. There was only me.
Only me. Alone.
No, no, no, no…
I closed my eyes, the first of countless tears plummeting from the corners and crashing to the ground furiously. As they escaped my body I felt his presence leaving along with them. My fists feverishly flew to my eyes trying to stop the tears, to stop him from abandoning me, from abandoning my very soul.
But I was too late. There was nothing I could do to stop them pouring out of me, from him pouring out of me.
I was nothing.
I was empty.
My life was gone.
Twelve years earlier…
Charm 1 - "Secret Santa"
At the tender age of six, I sat alone - insignificant and shy - in the back of the small first grade classroom as the teacher shuffled through papers and books at her large wooden desk. It was just before Christmas, and today the class would be pulling names from a hat for a secret Santa gift exchange.
Except I wouldn't be part of that exchange.
Because before class that day, the teacher - who also happened to be my flaky free spirit of a mother, Renee - decided to sit me down to have a heart to heart talk.
"Bella, honey," she'd said, "there are an uneven number of students in the class, so it would be really unfair for you, as my daughter, to pick a name from the hat. So you can just exchange gifts with me instead, okay sweetie?"
I nodded, trying to hide how painful the situation she was putting me in was going to be. I was so introverted at school and didn't have any friends. Being the teacher's daughter didn't help. Neither did being the daughter of the only cop in town. And now, not participating in the gift exchange would single me out even further amongst my classmates as the weird girl in the back of the room. Mine was a doomed existence from the beginning.
Renee walked around the classroom, holding out the hat for each student to draw a folded slip of paper. On it was a classmate's name written in the standard issue number two pencil. The room was a buzz of whispering and snickering, everyone excited about their shopping task. Everyone except me as my own Mother passed over me with only a light pat on my shoulder for comfort.
After all the Secret Santa excitement, Renee began our math lesson for the day. I was engrossed in completing the subtraction problems in my workbook when a loud knock on the door interrupted my thought process.
I glanced up through my long curtain of hair to find Mrs. Cope, the portly, kind-hearted secretary ushering a scrawny wide-eyed boy into the room. His blond hair was somewhat long, curly and hung down in his face in a way that nearly hid away the brilliant blue of his eyes. He was scanning the room nervously, clutching his Thundercats book bag and Superman lunch box in a tight fisted grip.
"Ms. Swan, it seems we have a new student for your class that just came in today. This is Jasper Whitlock. Just moved here with his family from Houston," Mrs. Cope drabbled, clearly embarrassing the boy by keeping him the center of attention.
Renee smiled warmly. "Welcome to my first grade class, Jasper. Why don't you go take a seat back there by Bella. She can show you around and you can share her books for today until I can have some more brought up from storage. Okay?"
The small boy nodded sheepishly and stumbled down the row of desks, plopping firmly in the one right next to me. I chanced a look over at him to find him returning the same exact gaze. I nodded my head and pushed my book over to the side of my desk closest to him, signaling that it was okay for him to come closer and share. He blinked once then silently moved his desk up against mine.
"Hi," I whispered.
"Hello," he drawled, his southern accent making me smile. I'd never heard anyone talk like that before.
"Your voice sounds funny," I blurted before I could stop myself. He blushed furiously and looked down at his empty desk. "But I like it," I finished, my red cheeks then matching his when he smiled back at me.
A few moments later, Renee came waltzing back to us, a satisfied grin on her face. "Jasper, your arrival couldn't have had better timing. Bella here was going to have to exchange a gift with me for our little Christmas Secret Santa party, but it'll work out so much better if you and her could just exchange gifts. Do you think that would be okay, dear?"
"Yes, ma'am," he nodded, his golden curls bouncing back and forth.
As embarrassed as I was, I couldn't help but smile at hearing his funny accent again. It was different. He was different. Like me. I hoped we could be different together.
A week later, our last day of school before Christmas vacation, the great first grade party and gift exchange was underway. Jasper and I sat at our desks, eating popcorn and drinking juice and smiling at the gift that the other held their hand.
I thrust mine out at Jasper wordlessly and he did the same. We both quickly tore at the wrapping paper to get to the good stuff underneath.
I looked over to watch Jasper open the box to his gift first. When he removed the white cardboard lid, his jaw dropped. Then he absolutely beamed.
I'd had Renee help me pick out his gift. I noticed that he liked super hero characters from his book bag and lunch box, so I thought that comic books - one Thundercats and one Superman - would be a good gift. Apparently I'd hit the nail on the head.
"Thanks, Bella! This is awesome," he laughed.
"Your welcome, Merry Christmas," I smiled, suddenly very relieved that I went with those instead of the school supplies Renee had originally suggested.
"Merry Christmas to you, too. Aren't you going to open your present?" he asked, his knee bouncing in excitement under his desk.
I looked down at the little red box perched in front of me. I opened the lid and this time it was my mouth that was gaping open.
Inside was a thin silver bracelet with one tiny charm - a Texas Ranger star.
"My Mom said that girls like jewelry. And I wanted something that you would remember was from me. Do you like it?" he asked apprehensively, his knee still bouncing wildly.
I was more of a tom boy than most girls and didn't really like jewelry all that much. But there was something about that tiny silver bracelet that made me want to wear it immediately, and every day thereafter.
"I really like it, Jasper, thank you. Will you help me put it on?"
He nodded and his bony little fingers took it out of the box and fumbled with it around my wrist until, finally, he was able to get the clasp to hold. I grinned as I held it up in front of my face, watching the miniature star twinkle in the florescent lights. It really was pretty. And no one had ever given me real jewelry before. I was suddenly glad that Jasper had been the first one to do it.
I watched him excitedly flip through his comic books as I absently played with the trinket on my arm. Even my little six year old mind could grasp that Jasper and I would be close from then on. In reality, we became inseparable - practically one entity - from that day forward. Fate had brought him to me that year and I would be forever grateful.
Seven years earlier…
Charm 5 - "Swimming with the Fishes"
Five years and several charms later (including the number seven for my seventh birthday and because Jasper said it was his lucky number, a soccer ball for when our youth league team won a big tournament, and a swan because, well, I was one), Jasper and I were still joined at the hip. We did everything and went everywhere together. He barged into my house at all hours of the day or night, and I was always welcomed into his home with open arms. It was like gaining a brother, a best friend, and a whole new family all in one sitting.
And that little charm bracelet never did leave my wrist in all that time.
Jasper's family had religiously taken a family vacation every summer, which inevitably left me and my best friend miserable for the duration of his absence. But this year would be different.
Because this year - the year we both turned eleven - I was invited.
I jumped at the chance, practically begging Renee and Charlie on my hands and knees, promising offerings of multiple household chores and good grades if they would just let me go along with my best friend and his family. After several phone calls and reassurances from the Whitlock's, they finally caved, and one week later I was in their car and on my way to Malibu, California.
I'd met Jasper's older sister Rosalie a few times, and she seemed nice enough. I didn't know much about her other than the fact that she was some kind of TV soap opera actress with a producer boyfriend named Emmett. Apparently it was his beach house we were commandeering for the week, so they were both aces in my book.
The first few days spent in Malibu were mind-blowing. Jasper and I took advantage of the private beach from dawn until dusk - boogie boarding, surfing attempts, picking seashells, and a constant celebrity watch (I swear we saw Mel Gibson in all his hairy-chested glory) were our main activities. We were even able to spot some dolphins playing around sunset on the second day. I think we stayed there, listening to them splash until we lost their shapes to the darkness.
One lazy afternoon, we had been trying to surf when a massive wave came out of nowhere, knocking me from my board and sweeping me under the water. When I finally made it up for air, I was way too far from the beach without a board. I tried swimming back to shore, but the current was pulling me farther and farther out to sea no matter how hard I swam.
Jasper called for his mother, ditched his board and swam out after me.
"Bella! Bella, hold on, I'm coming!"
"Jazz," I coughed as the sea water was starting to seep into my lungs.
He made it out to me easily. He wrapped his lean arm around my chest and began swimming, towing us parallel to the beach. We finally reached the sand and his frantic parents a few minutes later.
I coughed and sputtered, but assured them that I was alright. At their insistence and without my protest, I spent the rest of the day inside the house wrapped in a blanket. Jasper stayed by my side nearly the entire time, only leaving to go with his mother to pick up the take-out she'd ordered for dinner.
When he got back, he ran through the door and hurdled the back of the huge white couch, bouncing on his butt right beside me and thrusting a small red box into my lap. I had to giggle as I opened it.
Inside was another silver charm for my bracelet, this time in the shape of a dolphin.
"I wanted you to remember the good stuff about this trip, not all the bad stuff, like you almost drowning. And those dolphins were pretty cool," he explained, his voice squeaking a little from his prepubescent vocal chords.
"Thank you, Jazz! Those dolphins were pretty awesome, weren't they?"
"Yeah," he said as he threaded his hand in mine, just like we'd casually done since we'd met. "Just don't go almost dying on me again. I'd be really bored and sad if you weren't here."
"Me too, Jazz. Me, too."
Two years earlier…
Charm 11 - "Dance For Me"
In all my sixteen years of life I had never been so nervous.
Ten of those years had been spent in preparation for this. But during those ten years I had never had to do it alone. There were always others there to share the spotlight.
Tonight, however, was different because for the first time in my entire adolescent endeavor as a dancer, I was performing a solo.
It was the opening night of our annual recital. I'd had years of practice on the stage with the other members of my group numbers for the last decade. We'd even traveled around the country for group competitions and workshops. But tonight was the first time I would ever be alone on that stage, all eyes and the spotlight pointed directly at me.
I spent months and months with my instructors choosing the perfect music and choreographing all the right moves. I'd done the number in front of my usual dance group and they'd had nothing but praise and encouragement for me. But I was never truly satisfied with the piece and was always tweaking the steps a little here or there. Everything just had to be perfect and I practiced relentlessly, because the muse for my dance wouldn't see it until the recital…which was tonight.
The first few numbers I danced with my different groups - a tap dance, a fast-paced jazz number, even our competitive group ensemble that had opened the show - all went by flawlessly and easily. But as I quickly changed into the costume for my solo in one of the backstage dressing rooms, my nerves were getting the better of me.
The outfit was perfect and had been tailored to fit me like a glove. It was a stark white leotard, flowing skirt that tapered around my legs which were covered in nude colored hose, long sleeves that accentuated the lean muscles in my arms, and a traditional scooped neck that showed off the poise running through my shoulders. The whole outfit had tiny gold sparkles sprinkled here and there and a golden headband ran around my forehead, pinned to the tucked under French braid that my long chocolate hair was forced into. One of the older girls from the studio had done my makeup for me, and I hardly even recognized myself by the time she was done. I actually looked like a prim and proper girl instead of just some human with female parts.
I pulled on my little leather modern dance footwear, then began stretching and warming up while looking in the full length mirrors that were situated against the wall. I grabbed the insole of my right foot and extended it to my side, pulling it until it was nearly right next to my ear as I balanced there on one foot. I did the same with the other leg as well, stretching and rest retching the muscles I would need in just a few minutes. I kept my eyes trained on my own image in the mirror as I held my leg in that position…that is until I heard a throat being cleared from behind me.
Without dropping my leg out of position, I turned me head to see my muse - who also happened to be my best friend - leaning in the doorway, a dreamy look in his piercing blue eyes.
I dropped my leg down and spun around to face him. "Jasper, what are you doing back here?"
He smiled broadly, and I marveled at the way the corners of his eyes crinkled ever so slightly. I'd been noticing little things like that entirely too much lately. So much, in fact, that the lines between the friend in the boy I had known since I was five and the rapidly-approaching-man-of-a-boy in front of me were beginning to blur in my head.
It had all started earlier that year when he'd comforted me after a particularly rude boy in our school decided make fun of my tomboy appearance. I'd never really been comfortable in girly clothes or makeup, and since my best friend was a boy, I didn't see a need to dress any differently. Ponytails, jeans and hoodies were the main staple of my wardrobe.
Jasper saw the incident go down and knew how upset I was afterward. He pulled me into an empty classroom during lunch that day, telling me that the guy was douche and that I was pretty no matter what clothes I wore. He kissed my cheek and hugged me close, only that time it felt like more than just a friendly gesture.
Then I had the not so brilliant idea to dance my very first solo to the song he'd said reminded him of me, knowing he would inevitably be in the crowd watching, just as he'd done for the last ten years in a row.
And now he was standing there in my dressing room, just staring at me with a weird look on his face. The last time I saw a similar look, he had been staring at Jessica Stanley on the top of the cheerleader's pyramid at one of the football games.
"I, uh, just wanted to come back here and tell you how great you did on your other dances or whatever, and, um, wish you good luck on your solo and stuff," he stammered, fidgeting with his hands behind his back.
I craned my head a little to the side, noticing that the usual flowers his mother made him buy for me weren't in his hands back there. He must've caught my gaze and been on my same wavelength.
"I still got you flowers and everything, but didn't want to jinx you so I figured I'd give them to you when you were done like I always do. But I, uh, have something else for you, and I wanted you to have it before you go on stage."
His hands moved from behind his back and immediately recognized the little red box he held out for me.
I moved forward and opened the box while it was still perched in his palm. Inside, just as I expected, was a tiny silver charm. This one was of a graceful ballerina, balancing on one pointed toe; one leg extended back, arms elegantly arched above her head.
Wordlessly, Jasper took the little figure from the box and reached for my wrist, clasping it to the bracelet that never left my body. Then I felt his fingertips move up my arm, my shoulder, until he reached out to cup my cheek in his warm palm. He took the necessary step forward to close the gap between us and placed a smooth, chaste kiss on the opposite cheek.
"You look beautiful, Bella," he whispered when he pulled away. "You're going to do great."
"Thank you, Jazz," I blushed furiously.
Without another word, he slowly backed away and out of the door, his appraising eyes never leaving my form until he had to physically turn around to walk down the hall.
Holy freakin' hell, Jasper just looked at me like, like…THAT.
And just like that my anxiety was replaced with determination.
Moments later I was taking the stage, Your Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus flowing through the sound system and out into the audience.
It began slowly and softly, and my movements went accordingly. I flowed gracefully, moving with the melody. When the song became more intense, so did my movements and I moved with elegant authority across the stage, conveying all of the overwhelmingly strong emotions through my leaps and pirouettes. As the music faded, my ending pose was me on the ground in a straddle, reaching forward as I lay completely on the ground.
I held perfectly still as the crowd erupted, my only movement coming from the heaving in my chest from all the effort I'd thrown into my performance. Above the clapping and yelling I heard a familiar loud whistle and I knew instantly that it was Jasper. I lifted my head as I continued to gasp for air and looked directly in front of me in the crowd. There he was, in the front row, clapping wildly with the biggest smile on his face. He looked awed and proud, and I'd never been so happy - up to that point in my life, anyway.
I managed to pull myself up from the ground with the remaining poise I could muster from my weary body, gave a small bow and a smile and lithely moved off the stage. I was exhausted, having put everything I had into my performances all night, and the hot and heavy air in the auditorium was starting to close in on me - that and the realization that I just expressed my whole heart to Jasper without saying a word, and in tights no less.
The final act was going on stage, so I made a beeline for the door that let into the empty hallway. I desperately needed some fresh air and found myself fumbling through a set of glass doors, even though I could clearly hear someone calling my name behind me.
I felt my eyes begin to water as the humid, night summer air surrounded me. I couldn't really tell if it was the stress of the day finally letting loose, or if the forming tears were out of fear - because Jasper would know exactly what I was trying to say and I was afraid he would outright reject me. I felt stupid, risking a perfectly good friendship like that.
"Bella!" I heard his muffled call from inside the building.
Damn-it…you have to fix this, Bella. You have to fix it so that you don't ruin the best friend you've ever had.
And how am I supposed to do that? He'll know what that song meant. He'll know!
"Bella," he called again, and I could see his shadow in the doorway now.
Stop arguing with yourself and just fucking fix it!
"Bella, there you are! Are you alright?"
I shook my head and then nodded, having no idea what the hell to say to him. Of course I wasn't alright. Nothing about what I had done or what I was about to do felt right.
"Yeah, no, I'm fine. I just got overheated and needed some air." I looked down, tried to look anywhere but in his eyes. That's when I saw the flowers.
"Oh, okay. Well, uh, these are for you," he said as he handed me the traditional bouquet of my favorite flower - tiger lilies. "You were amazing out there tonight," he confessed in a more hushed tone.
I still couldn't look at his face, so I did the only thing I could think of to hide. I hugged him. Then I said the words that would condemn us.
"Thank you so much, Jazz. You're a great friend."
I felt him stiffen around me for an instant, and then let out a huge sigh.
"I'll always be your friend first, Bells. You know that."
I nodded, silently willing my hormonal teenage tears to subside.
We stayed there for a long time, wrapped in a chaste embrace. From my peripheral vision I could see my bracelet on the arm that was slung around his neck, the dainty charms moving in time with our breathing. My now seemingly not-so-brilliant plan had taken a nosedive. I was back to square one, but at the very least, that square still contained my best friend.
Three hours earlier…
Charm 13 - "My Heart"
At seventeen, we found out that Jasper had some kind of hereditary heart condition. At eighteen, our senior year in high school, he had to give up playing the sports he loved and started having to spend a lot of time either in bed at home or at the hospital undergoing tests. He was weaker, pale, and began having a hard time breathing when winter turned to spring.
I was nearly as crushed as his date - Jessica Stanley - was when he told her that he wouldn't be able to make it to our senior prom. He would simply be too weak to go and do anything but sit there and he refused to be the reason no one in our little circle of friends got to dance at their prom. So he graciously stepped aside, assuring us that when his new heart finally came through from the donor's list that he'd make up for all the lost dancing time.
I tried to bow out as well, arguing with him that I was only going with Tyler Crowley because I wanted to be there for him and Jess, so we could all experience this embarrassing right of passage together. But he made me promise to go without him anyway, telling me that he needed me to go and take lots of pictures for him so he could live vicariously through me.
I hated it, but I agreed.
Although when Charlie came bursting through the doors of the gym in all his police-chief-uniformed-glory and paced directly toward me, a stone expression on his face, I knew I should have stayed with Jasper.
"Dad, what wrong with him? Where is he?"
He grabbed my shoulder and immediately started towing me through the cray paper and balloon jungle. "Honey, Jasper got the call. There's a new heart on its way here from Portland. They're taking him into surgery tonight."
Then I was the one towing Charlie behind me as I bolted in my heels out the door and into the awaiting cruiser. I didn't say anything to anyone; though I'm sure they could all guess what was going on. Or gossip about it. Not that I cared at that point in time. The only thing I cared about was getting to the hospital before they had to take him into surgery. There was no way I would be able to live with myself if I didn't get to see him and something happened.
I burst through the hospital doors at a dead run. Thankfully the nurses knew exactly who I was from all the visits I'd made here with Jasper before, so they didn't reprimand me. They all knew what was coming, and why I'd be sprinting in there like that.
"Fourth floor room four fifteen!" I heard one of them yell to me.
"Thank you," I squeaked back, eternally grateful in that moment for the small town gossip that would help me get to him faster.
I kicked off my heels, leaving them in the entryway to the stairs as I ascended, clutching the front of my dress like some Cinderella on crack at midnight, and simply not trusting the elevators to get me to him quick enough. My clumsy nature be damned, I thought to myself. At least if anything happened to me I was already in a hospital.
Out of breath and still holding the front of my dress in my fists, I stumbled past Jasper's parents, who were signing stacks of forms near the nurse's station, and into room four fifteen.
There, alone, still pallid, still tired-looking, but with a huge grin on his face was my Jasper.
"Where else would I be?" I asked.
"Um, maybe your senior prom?" he snorted.
"I only went because you made me. You know I hate dressing up, and I should have been home with you. I could have been here the whole time with you," I argued, shifting my weight from one bare foot to the other.
"Bella, stop it. Stop berating yourself. Just because I have to be stuck in a hospital doesn't mean that you have to be, too."
I padded over to sit in the chair beside his bed and took his hand - the one without an IV - in both of mine. "Yes it does. You and I are a package deal. I'm where you are, period, and you know that."
"You can't always be with me," he whispered, his eyes cast down. "As much as I want you to be, forever, it might not turn out that way.
My breath hitched at the word forever, but then my brain caught up to everything else he was saying.
"Don't you do that, Jasper Whitlock. Don't you dare say goodbye to me, now. You're going to be fine, do you hear me? They've got a brand new heart waiting for you and you're going to come back to me and we're going to be fine." I wasn't sure if I was saying that to comfort him or myself more.
He still wasn't looking at me, but he spoke again. "I'm afraid…" I squeezed his hand for him to continue. "I'm afraid that if they take this heart, my heart, from my chest that I might not be able to love you the way I do now."
My mouth dropped open and I stared.
"W-what? What did you say to me?" It came out of me only as loud as a single breath.
His eyes finally met mine. Despite how sick he was, the deep blue of them stunned me as they sparkled. "I love you, Bella. I'm in love with you. I always have been since the first day I met you."
I was speechless. After all this time, all that doubt, he had already been in love with me.
I felt the warm wetness of my tears rolling down my face, then cool fingertips brushing them away. "Don't cry, my love. You're too beautiful to cry tonight."
"Jazz," I breathed then flung my arms around him, holding on for my own dear life as he was about to battle for his. "I love you so much, Jazz, so much. I wanted to tell you for so long but I was so afraid. I was so stupid! I'll never love anyone as much as I love you…"
I felt his once strong, but now frail arms wrap around me. He kissed my cheek, then pulled back to finally kiss my lips. His were cool and chapped against mine, which were warm and salty from my tears. Our lips moved in unison, a perfect harmony of deprived flesh just now finding relief. Our tongues peeked out and met tentatively, but then fire consumed us and we were lost in the electricity of our first real kiss. Nothing could or ever would compare to it, I was sure. Jasper and I were made to be together in so many ways, and that kiss had sealed it.
I finally willed myself to pull away, noticing just how much Jasper was panting and not wanting to do any further damage to his already weakened heart. Though my breathing really wasn't much better. The force of it all was so overwhelming.
He swallowed, essentially drinking me in with his piercing blue eyes as he stroked my cheek.
"Open that drawer right there, Bella. There's something in there I want you to have."
I reluctantly pulled away from him to do as he asked. I opened the drawer of the little night stand next to the bed to find a familiar looking red box. It was the same kind of box of my other charms had come in.
"Open it," he prompted, so I didn't hesitate. Inside was a brilliant red jewel - a ruby - in the shape of a heart. "I wanted you to have it. I wanted to give you my heart. It belongs to you anyway, so you should be the one to keep it with you."
His trembling fingers took the ruby trinket and clasped it to the bracelet on my wrist. I held it up to the light and watched it dance there for a moment before I found the will to move.
And when I did, I kissed him again, feverishly. I ran my fingers through his hair, I held his face in my hand, and I just generally drank him in.
"You know you're in my very soul, right? I can feel you there with me, even when I'm alone."
He nodded at my admission. "I love you, Bella."
"I love you, Jasper. Always."
"Always," he repeated.
A few moments later, nurses and doctors rushed in to whisk him off to surgery. He smiled at me once more before I lost sight of him as he was wheeled through the door.
And so I waited. And waited. And waited.
And then I didn't have to wait anymore, because I could feel it. I didn't need to see the somber-looking doctor walking down the hall toward the waiting room where Jasper's parents and I were lingering. I didn't need to hear him say the words. I didn't even need to feel the linoleum bruising my knees as I fell to the floor in my deep blue prom dress.
I could feel him leave me, leave me soul.
Jasper was gone.
And I was broken.
One week later…
Charm 14 - "Graduation Gift"
I was a walking shell. My tears were near constant over the last week, even when I finally succumbed to my exhaustion and slept, they continued falling.
In a matter of a few hours I'd gone from having a best friend, to having the love of my life, to being empty.
Renee had to help me get out of bed and get dressed in the morning, though I wasn't sure why she did since I inevitably just went back to bed anyway. I remember people stopping by at different times to check on me - some friends from school, teachers, some of the boys from the reservation on La Push that Charlie had known for ages. I'd nod and thank them for coming, but I couldn't smile. I didn't think I'd ever smile again.
And then graduation day came upon me. It was supposed to be a happy milestone. But the only thing that I could think of as I walked onto the school property that day was how fitting the black cap and gown were.
As the other students and their families were gathering around the auditorium, I heard a familiar voice softly call my name. I turned to find Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock walking toward me, arms outstretched. They were supposed to be here to see their only son graduate. But they could only be here for me.
I hugged them both in turn, my already bloodshot eyes beginning to water again as I thanked them for being here for me.
"We came because we found this," Mrs. Whitlock interrupted my thanks. She extended her hand to me…
There was a small white envelope, my name written in his elegant script on the front…and a little red box.
I looked up at her, my jaw hanging open.
"We were going through some things in his room and we came across this on top of his desk," she sniffled. "We knew he wanted you to have it today."
A sob escaped my body as I took my gifts from her with shaking hands. I opened the box first, not able to resist. It was a little scroll diploma, the year two thousand nine in bold numbers on top of it.
I cried even harder as I attached it - by myself - to my bracelet.
I fumbled opening the letter in my haste. And then I began to read.
If you're reading this, then something didn't go as planned. I know I would have already told you how much you mean to me, how much I love you. I'm just sorry that I won't be there to remind you of that every day.
Don't worry about me. I'm up here with that old scruffy cat of yours, Felix. He said to tell you that it wasn't your fault that old Mr. Banner from down the street accidentally hit him with his car, and that the time he spent with you was the best in his life.
I feel exactly the same way as Felix. My life was full and happy because I had you in it. And even though I'd much rather be there in the flesh with you now, you have to know that I will always be with you in your heart, and that you will always carry my heart with you.
To remind you of that fact, I have to let you in on a little secret. I have lots of charms left to give you. They're all hidden away in my desk drawer. You know where the key is. Each box has instructions and a note with it, and I expect you to follow those to a "T" - that means no peeking before you're supposed to. I hope that each one will help remind you to keep living, to keep experiencing all the things that we planned to do, and to do it for me. I want you to have everything that I won't get to have, and everything that I couldn't give to you, because you are worth it.
I love you, my sweet Bella. Always.
~ Jasper ~
Ten years later…
Charm 25 - "I do, Always"
The happiest day of my life is also the most bittersweet.
Today, I'll be walking down the isle, ever the blushing bride. I'll be walking toward a good man, one who has come to mean so much to me, a man who I do desperately love.
Edward has been so good to me. We met during our third year of medical school after literally bumping into each other in the hospital hallway. We talked over some bad coffee from the cafeteria and I immediately felt at ease with him, an ease that I hadn't felt in more than ten years. He wanted to take after his father and become an orthopedic surgeon and I told him about my intended specialty - cardiology.
And then I told him why.
I don't know why I spilled my guts to essentially a stranger that day, but Edward never faltered and was never intimidated by the mention of my best friend. I think that's why it was so easy to let myself fall in love with him.
But a part of my heart will be aching for the man that was supposed to be waiting at the alter for me.
And so here I sit, in an out of the way room of the church on my wedding day, staring once again at a letter and a little red box. Over the years I had gone through quite a few of these things. Jasper had been diligent in marking each one with a specific date or event that was sure to happen in my life. Sometimes I'd get to open one for Christmases or birthdays - like the one for my twenty first birthday (I always laughed when I had to explain the beer bong charm on my dainty little bracelet). Sometimes they were completely random dates, and I'd always be surprised when the letter and charm would refer back to a great memory the two of us had shared together.
But the letter with the little red box I held in my hand were the last in the drawer.
I thanked the Lord for waterproof mascara and twelve hour makeup as I slowly opened my last letter.
My Beautiful Bella,
You deserve this. You deserve to be happy and in love. Today is what I've wanted for you all along. Even though it's not me, I know whomever you've chosen will be the luckiest man on earth.
This is the last letter and the last charm I have for you, my love. It's time for you to truly start your life with someone new, and I won't get in the way of that.
I'll always have your love with me, and you'll always have my heart with you.
Always, my love. Always.
~ Jasper ~
With tears streaming down my face, I lifted the lid to the last of the little red boxes. My final charm was that of a small tiger lily, my favorite flower. The same flower Jasper always brought to me for every occasion. Hell, the tiny florist's shop in Forks always kept the damn things in stock because of him.
And it was the same flower that made up the bouquet that I would be clutching in my hand as I walked down the isle today.
I blinked my tears away as I walked to the stained glass window to look up at the sky, holding the petite charm in my palm. It was still a slightly rainy day in Washington, but I could see that the clouds were beginning to thin around the edges.
"Jasper," I said in a whisper to the heavens, to him. "Thank you. Thank you for being with me, for loving me, for leaving me these pieces of you. I would have never made it without them there to remind me of what you would have wanted me to do, to remind me of what I was capable of doing. But I'm ready to do this on my own now. I'm finally ready to let you go, to let you be at peace. Goodbye, my love."
As I softly slipped the charm onto my bracelet, the clouds looming in the sky actually parted. An errant ray of sunshine beamed down from above, bursting directly through that window and illuminating my teary face.
I was now overflowing with memories of my best friend, the love of my life. I still hadn't taken the bracelet off in all these years, and it indisputably would be with me until the day that I joined him again.
It was the vessel that allowed me to carry his heart with me. Always.
A/N: A special thank you has to go out to Kerry Hale for all your help!
If you enjoyed my story, please cast a vote for me! J
After the contest, I'm thinking of expanding this one-shot into several longer chapters, maybe one for each of the 25 charms. Would anyone be interested in something like that? I'd love to hear what you think, so please review!