"HEY! Careful of the human!" Emmett's words were knocked out of him as he threw himself between to intercept Edward.

"Son, you need to calm down!"

Edward's face was murderous, but he folded his arms and ducked his head, apparently acknowledging the presented facts.

"How could you, Jasper? How could you do that? One tiny mistake, one slip and she could be dead! Did you even consider how incredibly stupid, irresponsible, and dangerous this is? At all? She'd be gone." The anguish pouring off him with that last sentence both muted Jasper's outrage, and explained everything. Underneath the anger was pain, with eddying currents of shock, betrayal, and... jealousy.

"Edward, man, I didn't know..."

"Shut up!"

"I didn't do this to hurt you-"

"Just shut-up! Stop speaking!" His hands were tearing at his hair now, and they just pulled harder as the confusion in his families eyes began to slowly clear. "You can't do this! It's wrong, it doesn't make any sense, it's just-"

"My choice." Bella's eyes were filled with her sadness, but her voice was clear. "My decision, my life, my risk, my choice to make."

"But..."

"Can Edward and I have a moment alone please?"

There was a quick hum of vampire voices discussing at top speed, before Carlisle nodded and led the family out the door. Jasper turned back for a moment. "We're not going far, and we're not staying away long."

"That's fine. Thank you Jasper."

And then they were alone and the quiet of the house settled onto their shoulders and weighed down the words trying to escape their mouths.

"Edward..."

"Bella."

"I just didn't know, Edward."

"I know that. Why would you?"

"Did you feel like you couldn't tell me? I thought we were friends?"

"We are friends. I value that above all else Bella, and I never would have told you because it just- isn't possible. It would have hurt you, made things uncomfortable."

"But it's not impo-"

"Yes it is! I cherished that dream, but that's all it could ever be, and I was fine with that. I was fine-"

"Until you saw me living it with someone else."

"Yes."

"I'm so sorry Edward. You're my closest friend, and I never want to see you hurt." Overwhelmed, Bella wrapped him in her arms. "But I can't not live. And if you're sure there isn't even a possibility... Well, it's not even a choice then is it? It's not an option, it's not a possibility, it's out of the question by your choice."

"You could find a nice human boy-"

"And that wouldn't bother you? Really think about that Edward, and I'm sure it would make very little difference. Besides, how many 'nice' human boys have you met?"

Edward made a face, and Bella pulled back, letting a small smile sneak across her face before her eyes got serious once more.

"You're not fighting for me Edward, you're fighting against me living. And if you want to live in dreams, that's your choice. But that's not a choice I can let you make for me. I can't, and it's not fair to ask."

"I just- God! I love you and care for you so much, Bella!"

"I know. And I value that beyond measure, Edward. And I do feel the same for you, but we seem to be at an impasse."

"Well, perhaps I'll just have to take a lesson from the courts of medieval France and declare my love to be courtly and pure." His eyes darkened as he drew her close, and the look on his face was suboptimally pure. "Might I beg a single kiss from my lady? To keep close to my heart till the end of days..."

"You may. A single kiss. For what will never be." It was chaste, and sweet, and amazing, and brief, and Edward felt as though it truly was all he'd ever need.

"Thank you."

... ... ...

"So everything's... settled then?" Jasper's uncertainty floated into the air along with his words, and Bella curled closer to his side as they drove.

"Everything's fine."

... ... ...

And it was. And if occasionally a flower or a poem appeared that wasn't from his own hand, and a glance or a hug lingered a tad longer than might be considered formally polite, well, Jasper just looked the other way and smiled. It was a beneficent gesture from a man secure in his own happiness, and the uncompromising fidelity of his wife.


The End!

Happily Ever After!

I know this one deviates, but I'm not one to write endless romantic dream date nonsense, and while I was ready for this story to be over I really wanted their to be solid resolution for everyone. They deserve it, right? I've had that "My choice." line echoing around my brain for a week or two now. And when I really thought about Edward's personality, I think he'd be truly happy with the whole idea of courtly love. I think this works out for eveyone. I know it's a little disjointed, but it's my first, and it wasn't ever really intended to go beyond that first chapter. So. A learning experience.

Fingers crossed this doesn't come out spliced up, I smashed up my writing computer so I've done my best to spell check and whatnot, but it's not my usual program and the formatting concerns me.

I'd love to hear what you have to say; good, bad, or indifferent- this chapter, or the story as a whole. Thanks for wandering along with me, and sharing your thoughts. 3