For the lovely wolvesnvamps. Happy Birthday.
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
He crouched so close to the glass window that, were he human, would've been covered in condensation. But Edward Cullen hadn't drawn a necessary breath in over one hundred years; not since the day his adoptive father had stopped his heart and taken everything he'd ever known away. Little did they know, he and Carlisle, that on that day nearly a century past, that the death of Edward's mortal body would start him on the path that led him to find a reason to live again.
From the moment Bella Swan entered into his existence, Edward's entire being revolved around her. He'd always had the noblest of intentions where she was concerned, but his desire to spare her from the harsh realities of his monstrous existence often led to disastrous consequences. He thought perhaps that was something that would change once she'd become like him, but it seemed that regardless of whether her heart beat with life or was stilled in death, he was destined to break it.
It had been three days since Edward had heard the melodic lilt of his wife's beautiful voice. Seventy-two hours. Four thousand, three hundred and twenty minutes. Two hundred and fifty-nine thousand, two hundred seconds. An eternity.
As Edward held his daughter during her first human birthday party, Renesmee placed her little hands on the sides of his face to show him what she was thinking. He relished in the warmth of her body, the heat from a touch unafraid of his skin. He lost himself in the depths of her coffee-colored eyes, so much like her mother's that they still astounded him. To Edward, those features were a way he could always have a connection to the human form that his wife had willingly given up in order to be with him forever. A life that she'd sacrificed to give life to their daughter.
Edward had carelessly commented on the pleasant heat that radiated from Renesmee and the lovely color of her eyes, exact replicas of Bella's. He had forgotten, as he sometimes did, his wife's still-newborn emotional swings, her tender spirit easily wounded by small things. At first, he hadn't understood her anger. He and Bella had discussed the wonderful feel of a warm touch many times before; comparing it to the warmth that spread throughout their bodies when their human forms held cold, frostbitten hands to a fire after a long day spent in the winter weather. It was a sensation impossible for the human mind to comprehend, but one at which he and his wife constantly marveled. He hated to admit how much he missed the color of her eyes, even though they were still just as deep and lovely now that they mirrored his own.
It wasn't until he'd seen the flashes of Alice's visions (him quarantined to the family's main home, away from Bella and Renesmee in their cottage) that he finally understood how much his offhanded remark had injured his wife. Edward realized that Bella, perfect as she was in his eyes, still doubted her appeal to him, even after all they had been through together. He had reminded her of the one thing she'd given up for him that she could never get back: her humanity. He knew her well enough to know that she'd comprehended his remark as a failing on her part; thinking that there was something Edward needed that she could not offer him.
He chastised himself for his carelessness for the thousandth time as he looked out that window, his flawless eyes fixed on the forest behind the Cullen home. He searched the distance through the majestic firs and cypress trees fluttering in the late summer wind for any sign of her. He wondered, yet again, if she'd gotten his note and would agree to meet him. His silent heart sank at the thought of arriving at the meadow and finding himself alone. That lovely spot he'd found so many years ago had been a retreat for him at one point; a place he could find quiet from the constant onslaught of frenzied thoughts, a sanctuary where he enjoyed uninterrupted solitude. But without Bella, the meadow was cold and dead, much like Edward.
Times like these made him wish he had the respite of sleep; the blissful oblivion on which one could rely for a few hours each night to forget about their troubles. As an immortal, he was left with endless hours to reflect on his mistake, each minute without her by his side stretching hopelessly into forever. For immortals, with eternity looming before them, time had taken on a different meaning. Humans, with a predetermined measure of breaths and a finite supply of heartbeats often smoothed over rifts quickly. There was an air of urgency to heal without the guarantee of tomorrow. But for vampires like the Cullens, the promise of time often suppressed the desperation for reconciliation.
Despite the centuries that lay before him, Edward was desperate to reconnect with his Bella, especially on this day of all days. He could hear the minute clicking of the seconds from the clock on the wall of his now-empty room, and his stone-like body shifted in anticipation. A small trinket dangled from his fingertips, a gift for his wife.
As he'd recently discovered, there were still so many things about that wonderful woman of which he was unaware. But he'd memorized every inch of her body, every beat of her heart. And he knew, without a doubt, that she'd love what he wanted to present to her, if only she would allow him to do so. For Edward had learned the hard way that there was nothing Bella Cullen appreciated more than a simple, non-extravagant, sentimental gift, and whatever she enjoyed, he wanted to give to her.
As the clock struck eleven fifty-five in the morning, Edward stood and made his way downstairs with inhuman speed. He stopped to kiss his daughter goodbye, and nodded at his sister as she showed him her vision that this afternoon would go exactly as Edward had planned. Regardless of Alice's affirmation, nerves still tickled every inch of his cold skin, and if his heart still beat, it would have pounded out of his chest in anticipation.
He ran, ducking and maneuvering through the low-hanging tree branches and moss-covered logs of the forest until he caught her scent outside of their cabin, the mix of freesia and Bella that had never changed, and which he could never resist. He followed her trail mindlessly until he stopped at the edge of the clearing; halting his forward progress at the mere sight of her surrounded by wildflowers in the center of the meadow. Their meadow.
She swirled in the breeze around him; the very air he breathed was filled with her. Her smell, her love, her thoughts. Bella had opened her mind to her husband, a gift even she still did not understand, but for which Edward would be eternally grateful. The overwhelming affection that poured off of her body gave him every indication that he was forgiven. She was offering a wordless invitation to encourage him to join her, for she knew of his tendency toward dramatics, and he knew how much she disliked that about him.
Her back was toward him, and she did not turn as he approached. She wore Edward's favorite dress. The long, flowing, navy blue one that he loved so much, which set off the luminosity of her human skin and did wonders for her in immortality. Her hair whipped around in the wind, so long and lovely; hair he longed to run his fingers through, and feel on his naked chest as he made love to her through the night.
When he finally reached her, his soul was at ease, for he was certain now that he possessed one. His hand reached out for her cheek, and he felt her body relax at his touch. No words passed between them, because in that moment - the reunion of friends, the reconnection of lovers - no words were needed. He just let his eyes hold hers as the power of her love and forgiveness overwhelmed him.
His hand moved down the graceful column of her neck, and he lingered over the spot where her pulse used to throb beneath his fingers, warm and reassuring. He felt nothing there now but the silk of her skin, proof of all she had forsaken for the ability to stay by his side. His fingertips moved down to the valley between her breasts, where her heart used to beat for him. Now, it was still, silent. For him.
He leaned down to kiss her lips, to familiarize himself with them again even though he knew them by taste and by touch. They were forever burned into his memory. Her hands knit through the messy auburn of his hair as she pulled him closer, and he knew then that she had missed him as much as he had her. He found it odd; the comfort he took in that knowledge, but he allowed himself that comfort just the same. He held onto her tightly, her body no longer fragile beneath his touch; a silent vow that he would spend forever making himself worthy of her sacrifices.
He chuckled at her groan of disappointment as he pulled away from her, his hand slipping into his pocket and around the necklace concealed within. When she caught sight of it, she did not protest, much to Edward's delight. He would explain the significance of it later; the small figure eight pendant that he and Jake (with the help of a Quileute Elder) had fashioned out of silver melted down from a pair of his human father's cufflinks. She, of course, knew the symbol: infinity. It was a tangible representation of the limitless nature of their existence, their love, and their commitment to each other.
He would tell her about the miniscule grains of sand that filled the charm, sand that he'd brought back with them from Isle Esme. Sand which represented the beginning of their marriage, of their lives together, and the precious life of their daughter. He would explain to her why it was special for her to carry that symbolism so close to her heart; for she had given him everything he always thought he'd never have. A wife, a family.
As he draped the delicate silver chain around her elegant neck, he spoke only two words in celebration of a day that would always hold so many memories in their lives. The memories weren't always pleasant, but it brought them to the love they shared today, and would share forever.
He leaned over and kissed her neck, on top of the clasp of her necklace.
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