This was the FGB outtake donated by the lovely members of Team Legendary. It's a fluffy/happy piece so if that's going to somehow ruin the story for you, don't read? No, I can't say that. Ask me (I'll be honest) or someone who has already read it.
Dear Team Legendary: I want to thank you ladies to very much for not only your support of the charity but giving me one last chance to come back to these characters and this story- I forgot how much I enjoyed them. Also, your suggestions and email responses were lovely and kind and I think that you are all just tops. Thanks also to quothme for one last round of betaing with this Edward/Bella- this entire story wouldn't have been possible without you, Q, and I couldn't have asked for more from the whole experience.
This outtake will be up on FF for awhile, but eventually I'm going to take it down simply because it's not actually part of the story and I'm picky like that. It'll be up at ADF and on my LJ, along with all the other outtakes though.
The Legend's Lady
The first time Bella met Edward, it was in the back of her father's cruiser as they dropped him home. She wasn't too interested in the strange boy with the big eyes wearing a bowler hat, staring at her, though she was very pleased to see a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird in his lap. She and Charlie had just finished reading it—not that he read it to her, for Charles Swan wasn't that kind of father. But one day, he handed her the book and told Bella that she should read it, saying that it taught him about justice and was why he became a police officer. And she had devoured it, ingesting Scout, Dill and Jem's antics, feasting on the world through the view of someone close to her age, polishing off the book in under two days.
Her very favorite character was Boo Radley—the misunderstood recluse, who, despite a few mistakes and misdeeds, was merely a victim of his circumstance and upbringing. He had pure intentions and a heart of gold, not a heart of darkness as everyone in the town would have asserted.
"I just finished reading that," Bella said, but Edward merely stared. "I really liked it." Still he said nothing but continued his awed gawk. Bella tried one last time. "Who's your favorite character? Mine's Boo. But I won't call him that. His name is Arthur."
Atticus, Edward wanted to say. But I like Boo—I mean, Arthur—too. But his tongue was tied as, for the first time in his young life, he felt something akin to a fist squeeze his heart, squishing the breath and snatching the words out of him.
Bella was disappointed by Edward's lack of response. She liked playing with Alice and Angela but they hadn't read the book yet and her loquaciousness in regards to it wasn't so successful with a laconic Charlie. Hope had surged that maybe, despite his strange stare and odd attire—what was with that hat anyway?—she and Edward could have been friends and discussed the book.
But he remained silent and she stopped trying and eventually, they pulled up to the Cullen house. With a whispered word of 'thanks' to her father, Edward got out of the car.
That was the very first time Edward Cullen missed a chance with Bella Swan, seemingly setting the stage for a dramatic pattern that would characterize their relationship. Twenty years later, he would miss the chance to propose. But like the hairy, hirsute history between them, that, too, would work itself out in the end.
Though there was a portion of Edward's life that seemed more like a mystery or a horror novel, his story was in fact, more akin to a fairy tale. Yes, at one point, it was grim enough for Grimm, but those times were no more. He was in the days of Disney now, his happily ever after just around the corner. He was the ugly ducking who not only turned into a swan, but nabbed himself a lady Swan.
Once upon a time, almost a year after Edward and Bella had reunited, Bella was rooting through his desk, looking for the small black box that contained paper clips when she found another smaller, squarer box. The type that contained a diamond ring.
She was so shocked that the soft click the box made as she opened startled her. Her hands were shaking, casting silver reflections all over the walls of Edward's study. And then, as she laid eyes on the brilliant stone, it hit her. In her hands was an engagement ring. A diamond ring. What was that saying? A diamond was forever. And it was fitting as so were she and Edward.
She quickly flipped the box closed and put it back where she had found it, immediately pulling her phone out of her pocket. First she called Kate and got her voicemail. Then she called Charlotte before remembering she was on a flight to London. Then she even considered calling Alice before realizing that because of the time difference, she would most definitely be disturbing her. So finally, she dialed a set of more familiar, familial numbers: her father's.
At first, Charlie Swan hadn't been particularly pleased that his daughter had ended up with Edward Cullen—whose exploits even the Chief had heard of. But he had slowly warmed up to the idea; he'd always had a soft spot for the Cullen boy, knowing how neglected he'd been in his childhood. While that didn't excuse his actions, it did endear Charlie to him, something that came in handy when he saw with his own eyes just how happy his daughter was.
"You… uh, you want to marry him, right Bells?" Charlie asked after Bella finished spewing the story, hesitance halting his words.
"Well, yeah! Of course, I do. This just… it just caught me by surprise. I didn't think it would happen so soon," Bella replied.
"Yeah, well, I was expecting it a lot sooner," Charlie muttered. But as always, Bella ears picked up just what wasn't meant for them.
"What do you mean, Dad?"
"Uh, well. Edward may have called me."
"Edward called you," she repeated.
"To ask for you hand in marriage."
Her voice grew slightly louder. "To ask you for my hand in marriage."
"Four months ago."
"Four months ago!" Bella yelled incredulously. Her mind swirled with the knowledge that Edward had been planning—and by consequence, delaying—his proposal for four months.
Four months that her father had known he intended to ask. Four months that she hadn't known. Later on, when talking to Kate, Bella would rage a bit against this. While she appreciated the gesture, she didn't like that she wasn't the first—or at least, second—person to know about her own engagement. After all, this was her and Edward's future. It wasn't fair that Charlie knew first. If, or when she supposed, she and Edward were ready for children, she was hardly going to call his mother and ask permission for his sperm.
Kate had replied by jokingly begging her that she do.
But she could hardly say that to Charlie (she shuddered at the thought of ever saying the word 'sperm' to her father) and she was so overcome by surprise that immediately, her overactive mind began wondering what it was exactly that was keeping Edward from proposing, a concern she did voice out loud.
Charlie chuckled. "I can't tell you how nervous I was. There's nothing that makes a man feel less like a man than putting his heart in the hands of the woman he loves. That being said, I'm as surprised as you are, Bella, that he's taken this long. That boy looks like he could throw a party every time you smile at him," Charlie said, allowing a shade of condescension to color his tone. "But you know he loves you. And you know you love him. The rest will just fall into place—if you'll leave it be and let it."
It was the heartfelt fervency in Charlie's voice, normally a man of so few words, that gave Bella strength when her own insecurities made her weak. This strength helped her get through the next week where, to her disappointment, Edward did not propose. But she didn't like how she was reacting to this news. She wasn't even supposed to know that Edward was going to propose. And now knowledge she wasn't supposed to have was impeding the enjoyment of all the things she did have with Edward.
Curiosity killed the cat, but it merely drove the Swan crazy.
It wasn't that things between them weren't good. They were hunky dory (Edward being the hunky, everything else the dory.) But Bella suddenly found herself with this burning yearning to make Edward hers. It had been twenty years of knowing each other, twenty years of mishaps and misapprehensions, and they had finally gotten past them. She was ready to spend the next two decades being so happy with him that it would make the misadventures of the first two insignificant. And she wanted it to start now.
Things had always been unorthodox between them. To make her his, he'd made himself over. To bring himself to her attention, he'd bedded half their hometown. And to finally have her and hold her, he'd held off for ten tortuous years. Hell, she was in love with a man she'd once suspected—and accused—of being a sex demon!
Their story was not the usual one. And it may not even have been one of the great love stories of the world; but like them, it was anything but average. It was better, brilliant in its bizarreness, special in its stupidity, theirs in its entirety.
It gave them an honesty so many couples lacked, a freedom so many craved, a history that nothing could shake. Because the worst that could have happened between Edward and Bella—she thought he was the devil, he slept with her best friend, she slept with his best friend, they were separated for a decade—had already happened. They had survived their soap opera and emerged triumphant and, most importantly, together.
But even though she knew that one day, Edward would propose and she would say yes, she couldn't help but fixate on why he hadn't as of yet.
"Dad," Bella had said a week later, when Edward still hadn't proposed. "I think I may have lost my mind."
It was easy to hear the smile in Charlie's words. "My advice is to do what you do when you lose anything. Retrace your steps."
And so she did. Bella remembered with startling sharpness the moment she'd spotted Edward standing in front of her at that bar, seeing him for the first time in ten years. Edward had neither dominated nor disappeared from her thoughts in that decade interim. He was remembered in diverse deifications—at times like the demon she once accused him of being, for commanding her curiosity and affecting her affection; at other times, with a fondness for the funny and fiercely handsome, ferocious fucker (both literally and figuratively) he was.
It was long buried grudge and newly resurrected attraction wound worryingly together that had triggered the tendons that tossed the drink in his face. It was her particularly well-honed 'fight, then flight' instinct—like so many years ago, after their confrontation following that dance—that had caused her to leave the bar before Edward could even pull the lemon twist out of his hair.
All she was thinking as she rushed home was that somehow, after more than a decade, Edward Cullen had reappeared in her life. She had no idea how he'd orchestrated it, how he'd found her, and how he'd dared. How dare he contact her after she'd made it so clear with her silence that she wanted nothing to do with him? Even if she had, on occasion, regretted her brash and bitchy decision to cut him unceremoniously out of her life, he didn't know that.
It was only when she relayed the story to Kate, who then had sheepishly relayed another story back to her, that she'd realized the full weight of what she'd done. She'd publicly embarrassed Edward for the wrong cause.
And the next day, with a mix of regret (the first call) and fury (the second call), apology (the third call) and undeniable attraction (every call thereafter), she and Edward had rebuilt everything they had so spectacularly demolished as adolescents.
And Bella was hesitant—this man she barely knew as a boy had come careening back into her life, with all the charm and warmth she'd known of him and none of the women. Suddenly, she was faced with the Edward that she had longed for as a girl—smart and kind, engaging and yes, shallow though it was, attractive, but without the harem she could harangue on.
There was no statute of limitation on bad choices. But there was also no use in judging someone's actions when they were no longer that person. Edward was guilty of many a sin, yes, but it would be Bella who would be indefensible were she unable to pardon him.
Edward had once called their high school years "one crazy, mixed up episode in an otherwise fairly normal life." She couldn't have agreed more. Except that talking—even if it was just talking over the phone with—Edward, perfectly imperfectly human, definitely not a demon Edward, was anything but normal. He made her feel far too much and she could never predict what she would do around him. When a girlish giggle would slip out, when a sighing swoon. When he would charm her inexplicably by saying he still split his Oreos and ate the cream first, when the low rumble of his laugh would set off something low in her.
And so she had waited for a sign. A sign saying "yes, go forth and be with Edward Cullen. Thou hast forgiven his slutty past." A sign saying "despite it all, Edward has changed, and he is the man for you." A sign saying "maybe you should have given him this chance ten years ago, but at least do it now." Until one day, while out shopping, she was on the phone with Edward as he narrated a story about his first kiss and a realization hit her: her waiting for a sign was the sign.
She wanted Edward as he was. So she took him as her own.
And so started their courtship. It was much like newborn deer—shaky-legged, wide-eyed, in awe and absolutely adorable. Tentatively, they took each step in their relationship, until it was strong enough to not only stand on its own, but keep pace with their thundering hearts. Still, there were many bridges to cross; while emotionally, they jumped leaps and bounds together, physically, they held back.
Those days were dry and hard for Bella. Bambi it may have been, but all she was waiting for was for him to Thumper.
Edward was a lovely mix of confidence and coyness, of beauty and yes, pathetic puns. It was his unabashedly bad sense of humor, how unsmooth he was in some respects, that really charmed Bella. But perhaps being overly sensitive to how Bella might have felt about his past, when it came to physicality, Edward was the timid, teetering boy he'd been, nervous and nerdy, two things she adored, except when it impeded the progress of their pairing.
In fact, that first time they'd made love had been less fuck, more clusterfuck. She had expected anything but the nearly neophyte-like nerves he'd demonstrated. After all, this was Edward Cullen. Panties dropped at the mere mention of his name. Lubrication was rendered unnecessary by his low baritone voice. His sexcapades during that one year had been dubbed the New Big Bang theory.
But a bad case of stage fright had led to performance anxiety and his standing ovation had hardly lasted a few minutes—and had been nothing to cheer about. All the experience he'd accumulated had been rendered moot as he teetered and tottered around her tits and fumbled through their fornication. He'd been a one-minute egg and once he was done, he'd cracked.
Edward had been beside himself; for all it was worth, he couldn't have made it with the one girl who really counted, the one girl he wanted to make it with for the rest of his life. What good was he? He'd berated himself until Bella had brilliantly, bluntly suggested they try again.
And in keeping with his love of idioms, practice did indeed make perfect. She had lost count of how many pleasurable moments they had had, but she could remember with an almost lewd lucidity the first time Edward had showed her just how deserving he was of his legend. It was the first time they had sex outside of the bedroom—not even fully outside, in fact half in, half out as he pumped in, pumped out of her, legs around his waist, back against the doorjamb to her bedroom. They had been on the threshold, but Edward had pushed her over the edge—more than once, in fact.
And there was the time she'd been slightly sad because her father had informed her that he and Sue had split up.
"I just want him to be happy so badly," she'd said as she entered Edward's place. "Especially since I am."
He'd smiled at her reassuringly and said good-naturedly, "Well, you know what they say. When a door closes somewhere, a window opens somewhere else."
But Bella had been in one of her bratty moods, the kind Edward was just getting to know, where all she wanted to do was pick a fight. "That is just… dumb. Closed doors are stupid. Why can't doors be open and windows, too? I mean, it only promotes ventilation and circulation of fresh air into the house," she'd nonsensically ranted as she'd unzipped her boots in the foyer of his apartment.
"You seem to have a problem with closed doors, Bella," he'd joked.
She had turned her glare on him then, arguing for the sake of it, regardless of whether she made sense of not. "I suppose you don't have anything against closed doors."
But he did, as he stalked forward and pinned her with his hips, his arms trapping her as he rested his palms on the door she'd just shut. He lowly muttered in her ear, "Just you."
And then, Edward showed her just what closed doors could have opened against them—coats and zippers and clothing and condoms and legs, to be precise.
And that was when Bella truly saw how that summer of change followed by that season of being in charge, had molded Edward. How he took over not only her heart and soul, but her body, bedding her and breathing new life into all that had been so banal before. How his boyish beams could become salacious smirks, how gentle fingers that knotted in hers could become deadly deliverers of delights, how the slim hips she loved to wrap her arm around could pound and pulse and pump pleasure beyond her prayers. Their kisses were like kindling, all it took was one spark—which they had plenty between them—and they were set afire.
But the sex was merely the cherry on the sundae (and their Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and so on, so forth.) And Bella could only hope it would be icing on their wedding cake. Because she and Edward worked. Not because they were perfectly compatible, not because they were opposite and magnetic; no, with her and Edward, it was sheer devotion. Edward had always been steadfast in his convoluted courtship. But the more Bella got to know the boy under the bluster, the man under the mask, the more she realized that he was all she'd ever wanted.
A few months ago, a revelation had hit Bella with the force of a ton of bricks and the pleasurable sensation of a soft feather. They'd been at a party with some of their friends, milling and mingling. Despite the ardency of Edward's affection, he wasn't clingy, leaving her to separate conversations while he conducted his own. But every so often, he would sweep by Bella, lean in nonchalantly and whisper in her ear. The look on his face, the demeanor of his body, the ease of his approach would indicate that he may have been talking about something as casual as a grocery list. But his words were igniting, inciting, exciting.
One time it was just "your ass looks amazing in those jeans" as he strolled by. Another time, as he asked whether she'd like another drink, he placed his hand on her side, above the rib just below her breast, taunting propriety and teasing Bella. And the time after that, it was no words at all, just the tip of his nose barely touching the top of her ear as he hummed low in his throat, sending vibrations and goosebumps through her entire body.
This was a regular habit with Edward, a way of giving her space, yet reminding her just whom she wanted to be pressed up against. But more than that, it made her feel wanted and wanton, feminine yet feral. It made her feel like a woman. And that's when she realized she had figured out Edward's secret, what had made him irrepressible when they were teenagers, what made him irresistible now.
It wasn't that Edward was a philogynist. He was a philanthrope in that he loved people, craved them and cherished them. It may have been because of his childhood, it could have just been the man he was, but the best thing about Edward was that he was constantly reminding the people he loved what was so loveable about them, in authentic, often unseen way.
Like his monthly phone calls to Leah, which he was fastidious in making—they had not seen in each other in years and it usually degenerated into a long rant from Leah's end, but Edward would never let the first person who believed in him, the first person who saw him, ever feel invisible or unimportant. Or even the antiquated way he asked Charlie for her hand—showing the older man that he was respected and important, even if he wasn't present in their everyday life. It was especially apparent in the way he made Bella feel like she was the world to him every single day—not just at parties or in the bedroom.
With Edward, Bella could be any version of herself she wanted to be. If it was cute and playful, he'd play along. If it was angry and irritated, he'd humor her, melting her fiery ire with his warm smile. If she wanted to be lazy, he'd lie in bed with her, if she wanted to be adventurous, she'd get laid in other places. But what she could do most with Edward was just be. That roving, roaming spirit that had always been trapped inside her trapped inside that small town was free now, never too far from home as long as she was close to his arms.
But Bella had never been particularly patient. And she was surprised how unwilling she was to let time bide till she was a bride. So she began dropping hints. Useless, ambiguous hints that barely actually hinted at anything but to her, at least, they were something.
There was the week she wore white. White pants, white dresses, white shirts, she even wore white underwear to bed. She stopped the night Edward requested they go to his favorite Italian place for dinner and her spaghetti marinara proved a little too messy.
Then there was the following week where, feigning exhaustion, Bella requested over and over again that she and Edward stay in for a quiet movie night. He happily acquiesced, allowing her the choice in films. The first night it was The Wedding Planner. The next, The Wedding Singer. Then The Wedding Date, then Four Weddings and A Funeral and finally A Very Long Engagement. Aside from grumbling over his dislike for the quality and genre of the films, Edward didn't say a thing about the theme.
Entering the fourth week of her knowing about the ring—meaning five months after Edward had asked her father for her hand—Bella had no idea what was keeping him. But she couldn't think about that at this point. Right now, she had a lunch date to keep. It seemed that Bella and Edward had an affinity for the afternoon. Of course, they spent their nights together, but since that afternoon in the park, since those lunchtime phone calls, they'd always had a love for when the sun was as high as their spirits.
As she spotted him in the distance, she couldn't keep the smile from lighting up her face and she bounded to him, barreling into his arms and branding his lips with her kisses heated from excitement. He returned in like, both of them having a conversation with their pecks and puckers that beat any "hello, how was your day?"
"Here's your pad thai," Edward said when they had finished catching up, handing her the take-out she'd requested.
"Thanks," Bella said, distractedly. She had far too much food for thought to actually have thoughts about her food.
"You want the peanuts?" Edward asked her.
"Do I want—what?" Bella asked, eyes growing wide.
Edward looked at her for a moment blankly, not understanding her shock before it dawned on him, his sunshine eyes glinting with his grin. "Pea-nuts," he said, purposely over-enunciating. "Do you want crushed peanuts on that?"
"Oh," Bella said, that Bella-berry blush coloring her cheeks. "No, no nuts."
"Aww, why not Bella? I thought you liked… nuts."
"You're going to lose yours if you continue this line of conversation," Bella threatened and he grinned. She leaned over to kiss him. "Thank you for picking up the food." Feeling particularly affectionate toward him for no particular reason, she kissed him on the closest place she could reach, his neck. It caused, to her absolute delight, a shiver to run through his body, despite the warm sun.
"You're welcome. Seriously. Few more seconds of that and you'll really have put the 'come' in 'welcome,'" Edward moaned more than said.
Bella pulled away from where her nose had been nudging at his sideburns, her lips tugging at his earlobe and cast an exasperated look at him. "It's amazing how your sense of humor has gotten so much dirtier, but no better."
"Oh, baby. My sense of humor isn't the only thing that's gotten dirtier," he cracked, waggling his eyebrows. She laughed back at him, shaking her head.
"Remind me again why I'm with you?" But he only grinned because he knew, as she knew, that there was no need to remind her. They continued their meal in a happy silence before Bella siddled into Edward's arm, enjoying the few minutes they had before he had to return to work.
"Your hair always smells good," he observed, humming low in the back of his throat, igniting flames in her belly and making her hot elsewhere. He spoke his words gently and seriously. "'I met a lady in the meads, Full beautiful, a faery's child, Her hair was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were wild.' It's Keats. Always reminded me of you."
Bella turned her head, kissing him on the cheek. Without pulling away, her lips still tracing against the light stubble on his face, she whispered a line she said to him often. "Once a literature nerd, always a literature nerd." He laughed and leaned in toward her hand, splayed across his other cheek. "Wait a minute. That's from La Belle Dame Sans Merci."
"Uh, yes, it is. You weren't supposed to know that," Edward hedged. She pulled away slightly so she could turn and face him.
"So you think of me as 'the beautiful lady without pity'?" Bella's tone was lightly threatening—she wasn't genuinely upset, but she always enjoyed toying with Edward just a bit, since he was playful and always a good sport.
"No, baby. I don't at all," he said, words just a little rushed. "If anything, I think of you as the beautiful woman with tons of pity—enough pity to give a second chance to me, the boy who has loved you since—"
"You need new material, Cullen, that 'I've loved you since I was nine' line isn't going to work. It's totally overused."
"And yet so true," he said, grinning as he leaned in and kissed her soundly, his lips making vows of great love, his tongue promising to make it last a lifetime, his soft sigh telling her that he was hers and hers only. And it was that kiss, that one that said so much with no words at all, and the culmination of a month of waiting and wondering that caused Bella to blurt out her next words to even her own surprise.
"Edward, I want to marry you." Their eyes were mirror images: wide and surprised, her brown to his amber.
"You…" Edward trailed off. He pulled off his glasses, a signal Bella knew meant he was thinking hard. "You want to marry me."
It was too late for Bella to backtrack now. She knew this. But yet, she still tried. "I mean… if you want to marry me, I want to marry you."
"Bella…" Edward said, struggling to fight the smile straining at his lips. He knew his girl too well, knew something was up. But as always, he couldn't fathom what actually went on in that head of hers. It kept him guessing constantly.
"I mean, we're there, right? I love you, you love me, we know this, we've said it, marriage is just—" But converse to effect she had hoped for, her babbling just alerted Edward to the fact that there was something more she knew about.
"Bella… what's going on?"
"I found the ring."
"You found…" Edward paused as the meaning of her words sunk in. "You found the ring."
Bella grasped his hand and began winding her fingers through his as she continued to explain. "I was looking for some paper clips in your desk and I found it about a month ago. And then I talked to my dad, and he revealed that you had asked him about marrying me months ago so…"
"So, I've been dropping hints," Bella admitted, burying her face in his shoulder, thereby missing the amused, affectionate smile on his face before he schooled it away.
"You've been dropping hints?" he said, affecting a dimwitted, clueless tone.
"Well, yeah," Bella admitted, pulling away from his shoulder but still not looking at his face. She picked at the button on his shirt as she continued. "I wore white and I made you watch…" She trailed off as she finally glanced up at the roguish, rapscallion grin he was wearing. "Edward!"
"I'm sorry, Bella, but I mean—I knew something was up. I had no idea it was this… but it was too funny to stop," Edward admitted. He laughed as Bella swatted him playfully, burying her face in his neck, fingers finding his ticklish spots. His laughter gurgled out of him as he gasped, "Okay, okay, I'm sorry."
"I can't believe you knew this whole time!"
"I didn't! I mean, I thought Charlie may have spilled the beans, but I'm still a little too scared of your dad to call him out on it. But I know you, Bella. You forget that I get you, how you work. I knew sooner or later, you'd spill whatever crazy idea was in your head," Edward explained, nudging her with his chin. He pulled her even closer to him and kissed her forehead. "Turns out this idea was your craziest, best one yet."
Bella pulled her head from under his chin so fast she almost knocked his teeth out. "So… yeah?" she asked, hope blooming in her words, blossoming in her eyes.
Without her even saying it, he knew what she was asking. He was absolutely right—he got her through and through. And now he'd get her for the rest of his life. "Absolutely."
Her grin was uncontrollable as his. Even as the two kissed, their lips couldn't touch and taste and tease as they normally did because their smiles were too wide.
"See? All good things don't come to those who wait," Bella said proudly as they pulled apart.
Edward laughed at Bella forever trying to prove his beloved sayings wrong. "I waited for you. You came to me eventually."
"Yeah, but look at it this way. You had to wait nearly five months—and god knows how long more—for a proposal. I got mine in under a month," she said proudly.
"Technically, you're the one who proposed," Edward corrected her.
She grinned. "I kind of like that," she said, laughing.
"I really like that," he replied. "It's very us—I keep waiting, hesitating, and you swoop right in and beat me to the chase."
"What do you mean 'that's very us'?"
"Well, you did that with our first kiss, too," he reminded her. Then he kissed her and as he pulled away, he said, "Not that I have any problem with that. "
"If I proposed, does it mean you're going to wear the ring?" Bella teased.
Edward laughed. "I hope not—my grandmother would roll over in her grave. It's her ring and since my mother didn't want it, it came to me as an heirloom. I don't think my hands are quite delicate enough for them."
"You know, I was so shocked when I found it that I didn't even get a look at it. And I didn't want to jinx anything so I didn't ever go back to peek at it," Bella confessed.
So he made sure that Bella got a good look at the ring when she came to his apartment later that night. She walked in the door to find Edward down on one knee, in his hand the ring that she had found all those weeks ago, on his face a smile that hadn't waned all day, and to her utter delight, on his head the bowler hat he'd snatched from her father's car the day they'd met.
And he told her that though he was sorry that he was using the same old line, the truth was he had loved her since he was nine (hence the bowler hat) and that he'd love her till he was one hundred and nine and that he'd very much like to spend the rest of his life loving her not just as his, but as his wife.
His smile—that one where his eyes crinkled at the corners, and his gums showed just a little, that smile that wasn't his handsomest but certainly was his happiest— was replicated on her face when she said yes.
There were Don Juans before him and there had been Casanovas after him. And a little town in Washington and its members still had never found anyone to match Edward Cullen. But stripped down beneath all the layers of lascivious bravado and the swagger and the smirk, beyond the shady, slutty past and between the misguided, moronic attempts to win the girl of his dreams, he was a lovely, lonely little boy who had fallen in love and never looked back. And it was only when Bella had stopped viewing him as Edward Cullen and looked at him as just Edward that she could truly see him—the boy she had once thought was made of the stuff of nightmares had emerged the man of her dreams. He was just Edward, and he was what he always had been.
(And sure enough, they did live happily ever after.)