The Name's Cullen, Scrooge Cullen
Song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Summary: Having had his heart broken four years ago, Edward Cullen became an arsehole, an evil Christmas Scrooge…But what happens when on one Christmas Eve, an unexpected visitor comes to show him the error of his ways and thatthings aren't always what they appear...?Is it too late for Edward to make things right and to save his soul?
Disclaimer: Author does not own the song, or any public/recognizable characters, including those from Twilight, by S. Meyer
I was running as fast as I could, as though my very life depended on it…
I needed to get away from there as fast as my legs would carry me.
Times like this, I wish I was a cheetah, or a vampire, as I've heard both can run at frightening speeds. That was what I needed right now.
Tree branches clawed at my neck and face as I continued to run through the forest.
Some broke the skin, undoubtedly leaving thin trails of red blood on my pale flesh in their wake.
But I didn't feel the pain; I didn't feel anything.
My legs should have been burning and throbbing from running for half an hour through almost knee-deep snow, but I didn't feel them.
I was numb.
The wind was like ice, penetrating through my thin layers to the very bone as it whipped past me, making my body nearly as cold as my slowly dying heart.
My tears didn't stand a chance, as they were turned into icicles halfway down my cheeks.
My jeans and shoes were drenched, and I was sure to develop frostbite on my feet, but I didn't care.
I kept running.
Running away from my past, present and what I had thought to be my future.
My hand subconsciously flew to the small but expensive box currently residing in the pocket of my jeans; it suddenly felt like it weighed a ton.
I abruptly fell to my knees.
The snow was freezing and it soaked me through, as I lay down on my side in the snow curling my knees to my chest.
Though my body was shivering from the elements, my heart felt like it was on fire, burning me alive from the inside out. I clutched at my chest, trying to hold the pieces of my shattering heart together, but to no avail.
I couldn't stop the memory as it hit me like a freight train…
Us cuddled up on the couch with popcorn in front of the roaring open fire in my parent's living room watching her favorite movie, 'Meet Me In St. Louis.'
The only light coming from the twinkling lights on the decorated tree behind us.
Her crying to Judy Garland's 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' at the end.
Me pulling her to her feet, cradling her to me as we danced cheek to cheek in my effort to stop her tears.
Me singing the words softly in her ear as we spun.
"I love you Edward," she said.
"I love you too."
Her looking in to my eyes lovingly as we kissed passionately, listening to the clock strike midnight… our first Christmas together.
"Why?!" I screamed in to the cold night air, coming back to the present.
A sob escaped my chest and the tears now fell freely down my cheeks, as I rocked myself back and forth in the snow.
I knew I looked a fright, but I couldn't find it in myself to care…
I had just lost everything.
In just ten seconds, all of my hopes and dreams had been crushed to dust.
"How could you do this to me, to us? It was supposed to be a surprise, the perfect night!" I screamed again and then laughed bitterly.
The only one, who had been surprised tonight, was me.
What was I supposed to do now?
What do you do when the future you've worked toward for years falls through your fingers?
Four years later:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles will be out of sight…
"Oh hell no, any song but that one!" I groaned as I threw my arm over to hit my alarm clock off.
What a shitty start to the day.
Opening one eye, I glanced at the time. One in the afternoon.
Rolling over, I groaned again as I looked out of my bedroom window.
Everything was covered in glistening white.
They had predicted an early snowstorm this year, and for once, it seemed the weatherman had been right.
I suppose some people would consider the scene outside to be beautiful…
The way the small amount of sunlight reflected off each tiny snowflake, casting dancing rainbows against anything they touched.
But not me.
For me, it was a reminder of memories hidden deep inside myself; things I craved to forget but that my subconscious didn't let me.
And the last thing I needed right now, was a white fucking Christmas.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay.
From now on our troubles will be miles away…
Jesus Christ, does this song ever fucking stop?!
I reached over and yanked on the cord for my alarm clock, and threw it across the room.
"Fucking Christmas radio," I muttered to myself.
I wasn't prepared for the memories that suddenly bombarded me…
Laughing at her as she tripped over the Christmas presents and her scowling at me.
Us sipping cocoa while decorating out Christmas tree.
Trying to hide the presents from her prying eyes, she hated surprises…
I abruptly threw my covers off and jumped out of bed, needing to do something.
Anything to prevent my mind from going down that road.
I jumped in the shower and tried to think of something else.
Really, I had no reason to get out of bed in the first place.
I had wanted to work today, but as I had worked the last two Christmas' in a row, the hospital had 'insisted' that I take this holiday off.
What kind of hospital doesn't want as many doctors as possible working at one of the busiest times of the year?
Forks General apparently…
But I didn't believe that bullshit for a second.
No, this 'order' came directly from the Dean of the hospital, who also just happens to be my father.
I'm sure he and my mother figured that if I wasn't working, that I would have no excuse not to attend the traditional Cullen Christmas dinner.
Ah, how their plan was flawed.
I explained to them that just because I wasn't working at the hospital, didn't mean I wouldn't still be working…
I had a huge ass pile of papers that I had neglected since I became a workaholic two years ago. I had just started my residency and now was the only time I had to complete it, as I constantly put my hand up for extra shifts.
At least, that's what I told them anyway; my real plan was to get totally shitfaced. Drown away my sorrows as I did every year.
I could practically hear my mom's heart break over the phone when I told her, but I couldn't find it in myself to care.
I didn't do Christmas anymore…
A loud knocking on my front door interrupted my thoughts.
I groaned as I turned off the water, threw a towel around my waist.
The knocking continued, as I made my way through the house and to the front door.
"Alright, I'm coming!" I yelled.
I reached the front door and yanked it open.
I shuddered as the freezing gust of air hit me, and I practically heard my balls scream in protest before retreating.
The group of people on my doorstep gaped at me as I stood in nothing but a towel, glaring at them.
"Did you want something? I'm kind of busy here," I spat.
They recovered quickly, clearing their throats, before starting in to a rendition of 'Deck the Halls'.
"Oh god no,' I groaned as they continued to attack my ears with their harmonies.
A young blonde girl looked me up and down appreciatively, obviously not even trying to be subtle and winked at me.
"Look, I'm not in the mood for this shit today," I said to them, but they continued to sing.
Their singing combined with the cold was giving me a headache.
"Shut up and fuck off!" I screamed.
They abruptly stopped their singing and stared at me, as I hurried inside and slammed the door in their faces.
To me, carollers were as bad as door-to-door salesmen; and I hated those fuckers with a passion.
If I wanted to hear carols, I would go to church or even to the mall?
I didn't need them coming to my home, intruding on my personal space trying to spread their 'Christmas cheer' like a disease.
As I walked back to my bathroom, there was another knock at the door.
Now I was pissed; persistent fuckers, didn't they know how to take no for an answer?
I stormed to the door and tore it open.
"I said, fuck off!"
"Oh, well, good morning to you too."
"I wasn't talking to you, Alice. I was just about to call the police to report an assault. Those carollers ought to be locked up or shot. My ears will never be the same."
She snorted as she barrelled past me through the doorway.
"Please, won't you do me the honor of coming in to my home," I said, my voice filled with sarcasm.
I closed the door and turned around to find her glaring at me.
"Edward, show a little gratitude. Those people don't get paid for what they do, they do it out of the goodness of their hearts. To bring cheer to people at Christmas…"
"Well, all they gave me is a headache, and I would have gladly paid them to get lost. Speaking of getting lost, what are you doing here?"
"Can't a girl stop by and see her favorite brother?"
"I'm your only brother, and no. You always have an ulterior motive."
She smiled brightly at me.
"Ok, you got me. Mom sent me over to see if you had changed your mind about Christmas. We are going to do carols tonight, and then we are spending the day at mom and dad's tomorrow. Presents at ten, and then lunch and festivities after that. I really think you will enjoy it this year. I got you something very special…" she said wiggling her eyebrows at me.
"Tell her thanks, but no thanks. And on a personal note, I'm ok on socks at the moment. Thank you, Alice."
She snorted at me.
"When would I ever buy someone socks for Christmas, Edward?" she said, clearly offended.
"Well, in that case, I'm good on ties too."
"Please trust me, just this once, that I brought you something you really wanted this year."
"Sorry, Alice, I trust no one anymore. So you can run along and tell Mom that the black sheep won't be attending, thank you."
She sighed loudly and walked closer to me.
"Edward, you need to get over this, it's been four years. This isn't healthy, shutting everyone out all the time. We miss you more than you know," she said as she cupped my cheek.
The old Edward's heart would have broken at her heart-felt plea, but not the new one.
"I'm sorry, Alice. I must have missed out on a lot recently, because I had no idea that you were now a psychologist! When did that happen? And giving out free advice, when you should be charging by the minute? Tut-tut."
Her liquid green eyes turned hard and cold, as she pulled her hand away from my face.
"Grow up, Edward! You're not the only person in the world to have suffered a broken heart, you know. Can't you see how your actions are hurting everyone else? How you're hurting Mom? Every Christmas she smiles and still sets a place for you at the dinner table, in hopes that you will show up. But every year, yet another no show. I won't watch her face fall again this year; do you understand me, Edward?"
"Alice, Mom doesn't need me around for Christmas, as you have more than enough personalities to keep everyone occupied…" I said sweetly.
I heard her sharp intake of breath and her eyes widen.
I watched her take a step toward me, and with tear filled eyes, she raised her hand and slapped me hard across the face.
"Don't you ever talk like that to me again, Edward. You better pray that Jasper doesn't hear about this. If you ever find my brother somewhere inside that dead scrooge heart of yours, please tell him that we miss him."
She grabbed her bag draped over the couch and marched to the door.
As she grabbed the door handle, she stopped and abruptly turned, an evil smirk on her face.
"Oh, I almost forgot. I just found out that she is home for Christmas. Mom and Dad insisted that she come around to say hi on Christmas day. Just thought you would like to know," Alice said in a singsong voice, before she stepped through the door and slammed it behind her.
I felt all the blood fall from my face.
She's home, for the holidays.
Again, I was assaulted with memories…
Picking her up to come to my house for Christmas morning with my family. Her jumping on my back, walking to my car with her dressed in her flannel pajamas; she had never looked more beautiful than when she was being herself.
Her and Alice laughing as they made fun of me and Jasper posing stupidly for photos.
The tears in her eyes as she kissed me, thanking me for my thoughtful gift…
I hadn't seen her in four years, and yet she starred in my dreams every night.
She was home?
I was suddenly flooded with emotion; I was happy and miserable at the same time.
Did I want to see her or didn't I?
Was I ready?
God, what would I say to her if I did?
I fell to the floor in a bumbling mess of emotions.
I glanced at the clock; it was three in the afternoon.
I was going to need the alcohol a lot sooner than I had originally planned.
I needed it now…
I had no idea what time it was, but it was dark.
I squinted and looked around trying to find my bearings and noted that it was almost midnight.
God, how long had I been out for?
"Ugh," I moaned as my hand flew to my head.
I currently had the mother of all headaches, and the near empty bottle of vodka on the coffee table was my number one suspect for the culprit.
Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of Yore,
Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more…
What the fuck?
I forced my eyes to open fully, to see none other than Judy Garland on my television screen in 'Meet me in St. Louis.'
Always the masochist, I must have put the DVD on earlier to torture myself.
All my hard work to forget had been undone in under a minute.
As I fumbled around on the couch in the dark searching for the remote to turn the blasted thing off, I heard the clock strike twelve.
Abruptly, the television flicked off of its own accord.
I shrugged it off as I collapsed back in to the couch.
I closed my eyes, hoping for the darkness to take me away.
Through my closed eyelids, I was sure I could see a distant light, which continued to get closer and closer.
I opened my eyes and almost jumped out of my skin.
There was a strange man standing in my lounge room, holding an old-fashioned candlestick holder.
He was very pale, and looked to be in his late thirties, early forties.
He had long black hair and was dressed in period style clothing.
He pulled the candle to his face and raised an eyebrow at me.
"Is the inspection complete?" he asked in a quizzical voice.
"Who are you, and what the fuck are you doing in my house?"
"Ah, always such the gentleman, aren't we, Edward?"
"How the fuck do you know my name?"
He took a step toward me and leaned down so his face was at the same height as mine.
"Oh, I know everything about you, Edward," he said smiling, as he placed his hand on my shoulder.
I shook my head back and forth bewildered.
Shit, how much had I had to drink?
Was I awake?
Was I dreaming?
Was I in a vodka-induced coma?
"None of the above, my friend. As you can tell from my touch, I am in fact very real."
Ok, now I was openly staring at him with my mouth hanging agape.
Was he reading my thoughts?
What the fuck?
The man chuckled.
"Quite a mouth you have there, young one. And yes, I can read your thoughts."
Was this guy for real?
For all I knew, he had broken in to my house to have his way with me then kill me…
"While I admit that you are handsome, you're not my type. I do prefer the ladies, so you're safe," he laughed.
Oh right, mind-reader.
But, he still hadn't answered my question… Had he?
"No, I haven't. My name is Aro, and I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," he said smiling.
I was hallucinating, I must have been. I had finally lost it…
The 'Ghost of Christmas Past'?
Wow, that's impressive, even for me.
"I assure you, dear one, that this is no hallucination. You have been classified as a Scrooge, and I have been sent to you to show you the error of your ways."
As in the Disney Christmas movie Scrooge?
Wow, I had to admit, this guy was good.
I bet he was a paid actor sent by my dad…
He let out a sigh.
"I can see the only way for you to believe me, is to show you," he said as he pulled me to my feet.
I decided to play along with him.
"Ok, I'll bite so you can get your money's worth. Do your worst."
A devilish smile lit his features as he snapped his fingers, and we were suddenly outside my house; it was snowing.
I shuddered violently from the cold and looking down I realised why.
I was wearing only a towel and ugg boots.
I must have passed out before changing…
"What the fuck? You could have given me some warning or something, I'm freezing here!" I cried through chattering teeth.
"Oh, forgive me," he said snapping his fingers again, and then he was gone.
I whipped around, trying to see where he went.
It's finally happened; I've gone insane, totally lost it.
"You have not gone insane, young one. Here, put these on."
I jumped, startled by his appearance behind me.
I turned to see him holding a beanie, gloves and a bomber jacket.
"Get out of my head," I snapped at him, snatching the clothing from his hands.
He had no idea how annoying that was; I felt as though I had no privacy…
He smirked at me as I dressed in the layers he had given me.
"You're so pale, all you need is a carrot nose and you could pass as a snowman," he laughed.
"First snowman I've ever seen in a towel 'toga'. Why didn't you just bring me some pants?"
"Come now my friend, where's the fun in that? Now, are you ready?" he chuckled, his eyes sparkling mischievously.
"For what exactly," I asked warily.
I had a mental image of him ripping off my towel and parading me around town with a 'bah humbug' sign stapled to my forehead.
He immediately burst out laughing, obviously invading my privacy, yet again, and causing me to scowl.
Damn mind reader…
"While that would be amusing, no. I meant this!"
Quicker than I could blink, I was flung on to his back and we were flying at incredible speed.
I hid my face in his shoulder.
How would it look if someone I knew were to see me clad in a towel, mounted on another man's back?
I shuddered at the thought of trying to explain that one…
The world seemed to blur around me, and it appeared as though time were going… backwards?
As quick as I was flung on to his back, I was abruptly thrown from it, landing on my ass in the snow.
I stood up quickly, trying to stop the snow soaking through and instantly regretted it.
Although we had stopped moving, the world hadn't…
The trees were still spinning.
"Exhilarating, isn't it?" he exclaimed as he sucked in a deep breath of the cold night air.
I doubled over on my knees, and violently emptied the contents of my stomach-which evidently wasn't much-onto the snow.
This was some crazy 'Twilight-zone' shit…
"Ah, the wonderful effects of alcohol," he mused.
"Shut it," I muttered, as I cleaned myself up.
I looked up, taking in my surroundings for the first time and froze.
I still couldn't believe my eyes; I would recognise this place anywhere.
"What are we doing here?" I asked warily.
"I told you, Edward, I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. I'm the first of three ghosts you will see tonight. I'm here to show you where things started for you and they way things used to be…"
I turned back to look at the building, and suddenly saw her walk straight past me.
I ducked and ran in to the bushes behind me.
"What on earth are you doing?" he asked bewildered.
"Aro, I will not let her see me like this. I'm in a towel for fuck's sake!" I hissed at him.
"Oh dear, I'm terribly sorry, but it seems I have neglected to explain the rules. How clumsy of me! She, or anyone else for that matter, won't be able to see you, young one. We are in your past, and are therefore invisible. You are not here to change the past, we are here to show you things from a different perspective."
I let out a sigh of relief as I exited the bushes.
I turned to watch her walk up the stairs; god she was beautiful…
Her long hair shining mahogany in the sun, her cheeks flushed from the cold November air…
I watched as she got to the door, too busy talking to her friend to watch where she was going. As she leaned forward and reached out for the door handle, the door suddenly opened outward, hitting her on the head and knocking her over.
Seeing her from this perspective, cursing and muttering under her breath, I couldn't help but let out a laugh.
I was immediately shocked; the sound sounded so foreign to me. I had honestly not laughed a real laugh since that night four years ago.
"Oh god, I'm so sorry. Miss, are you ok?"
I remember that day as if it were yesterday.
I had been in the library, studying for my finals and had lost track of time.
In a hurry to get home, I rushed out of the front doors, not looking where I was going.
In reality, I was walking straight towards my future.
A young man with disarrayed bronze hair came rushing out of the door and knelt down next to the brown haired beauty on the ground.
"You were quite the gentleman, Edward," Aro smiled.
The look on her face showed that she clearly was not ok; she was fuming.
I expected her to tell me off or at least give me an earful, but when she looked up at past me, her face was transformed into a look of shock.
"Are you sure no one can see us, Aro?" I asked, but unable to take my eyes off her.
I was afraid that if my eyes broke contact that she would disappear and be nothing more than a dream.
"I assure you that she can't. Would you like to get closer?"
I nodded my head in response and followed him up the steps, to where a crowd was forming around the couple on the ground.
I winced at how hurtful that word now was when it came to her.
Aro noticed and shot me a sympathetic glance.
"Oh god, you're bleeding! I'm so sorry, I didn't see you…"
"Do I know you from somewhere?" she asked, looking up at 'me' confused.
"Um, no, I don't think so. I honestly think that may need stitches, does your head hurt at all?"
"Are you sure? I'm having this intense feeling of déjà vu. Like I've met you before…"
She stopped talking and placed her hand over mine, and my eyes widened.
I knew what I was feeling, that damn electric current that had constantly flowed between us since that first touch.
I heard her take in a sharp breath, obviously having felt it too.
I remembered that moment, actually looking at her for the first time.
I remembered that it was a little disconcerting at the time; the way her big brown eyes focused on me, like there was no one else in the world.
But now, looking back at it from another perspective, that was the moment for me.
In that moment, I knew that she was, and always would be, the only one for me.
She was the first to break eye contact, but kept her hand over mine. With her free hand, she reached up and probed at her head.
"Ouch. Oh no…" she moaned, as she brought her hand down to inspect it, and finding it covered in blood.
"Do you want me to take you to the hospital?" I offered.
"No, please. I hate hospitals," she said.
Her voice had become shaky and her eyes had started to roll in her head.
I may have only been in my second year of pre-med, but I knew she was about to pass out.
I snaked my arms around her just as she collapsed into me.
I stood up, repositioning her in my arms with ease; she was tiny after all, and started for my car.
"Hey, where do you think you're going?"
I turned to see her friend running towards me.
"My father is a doctor, so I was going to take her to see him," I explained.
"Well, as I have no idea who you are, I'm coming with you. There's no way I'm allowing my unconscious best friend be taken away by a complete stranger," she said, pushing her glasses further up her nose and rounding her shoulders to show me that she meant business.
I honestly hadn't thought of it that way…
"You are completely right. Well, my name is Edward Cullen, I'm in my second year of Pre-Med, and I would be very grateful if you accompanied me," I said, as I placed the sleeping beauty into the front seat and strapped her in.
I reached into the back seat and wrapped a towel that I found around her head for the bleeding.
I closed the door and opened the back door for her friend.
"Ready when you are, Miss…?"
"Angela, my name is Angela. Thank you for taking care of her," she said as she slid into the seat.
"My pleasure," I said quietly to myself as I closed her door and walked around to the driver's side.
Starting the ignition, I stole a glance at the beauty in the front seat; she took my breath away. As I drove toward my parent's house, I knew my life would never be the same.
"And people say there's no such thing as love at first sight," Aro scoffed, as he turned to face me.
"Well. Aren't we going after, well, me?"
"No. I wanted to show you your first meeting from an outsider's perspective. From the first moment you met, she only had eyes for you, Edward. It may have made you uncomfortable, but for her, you were it. She knew that she had met her forever when you walked out of that door. You saw that, and deep down you knew it, yet you refused to remember this moment in the one moment it truly mattered…"
I was about to ask him where he was going with this, but he snapped his fingers and suddenly, it was dark.
I blinked and tried to let my eyes adjust to the darkness, but when they adjusted, I wish they hadn't had.
Again, I knew exactly where we were, and I'd be damned if I was going to watch this a second time; it was painful enough the first…
I took one last glance up at the house and turned toward the forest to leave; just as I had four years ago.
"Where do you think you're going, Edward," Aro called.
"I'm leaving. There's no way you can make me go through this shit again," I called back to him as I entered the forest.
I started to walk, when I abruptly found myself back in front of the house.
"What the fuck, Aro!" I yelled, realising that he must have brought me back.
"When will you listen, dear one? This is not optional, not negotiable. I'm not here for my enjoyment, Edward. I'm here for you to open your eyes and realise that things aren't always what they appear to be..."
He motioned toward the front porch, and I saw a light come on.
I saw my beautiful angel walk out; it looked as though she had been crying…?
"I don't remember her being upset that night," I commented.
"That's because you weren't close enough. You watched this whole scene take place from afar… This time, watch and listen."
I watched as she bent down and rested her arms on the porch railing, sniffling.
My heart broke and all I wanted to do was comfort her.
I moved closer, but abruptly stopped when I saw him exiting the house.
I hissed under my breath as I came face to face with the man responsible for ruining my entire life.
Jacob fucking Black…
My legs moved forward on their own accord until I was on the porch with them, my fists clenched at my sides.
To say I hated this fucker was an understatement; I wanted to rip his fucking heart out.
"Easy Edward, remember, you cannot change anything and they can't see you. There's no point in upsetting yourself unnecessarily. Please, just listen," Aro pleaded.
I took a deep breath through my nose pinching the bridge of it in between my fingers, in an attempt to calm myself.
Fucker walked up and leaned against the railing beside her.
He put her hand on her shoulder and I bit the inside of my cheek so hard in attempt to remain calm that I drew blood.
"Jake, I'm so sorry. I wish there was something I could do… I can't imagine what you're going through," my angel said, fresh tears filling her eyes.
"S'okay, I'm sorry to have to tell you something like this on Christmas Eve. I've probably just gone and ruined your whole Christmas…"
"Jake, don't you dare! I would've been furious if you hadn't have told me, and don't you dare make this about me! How is everyone else coping?" she asked, placing her hand on his shoulder.
He let out a sigh and focused on something in the distance.
"Honestly honey, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have Leah. She's my rock. As much as I may sound like a pussy, I spent the whole day at the hospital crying my fucking eyes out. She just held me, soothing me and just being there for me. I never thought I'd find someone that would be my perfect match, like you and Edward, but I think I'd honestly die without her. I wouldn't have made it through today, that's for sure…" Jacob said, his voice faltering at the end as he dropped his head.
"Wait, what the fuck is going on?" I asked, turning my eyes to Aro.
He just shook his head and motioned back to the porch.
"Oh Jake, come here," she said, as she held out her arms and enveloped him in them, his head resting on her shoulder.
Having seen this particular scene before, I thought I would be absolutely fuming; but I wasn't...
I couldn't explain it, but something told me that something was very wrong here.
"Always the strong and proud one, but you don't have to be that way with me, Jake. I've known you all my life. You're the closest thing I have to a brother, and your pain is my pain. Please don't think you have to be strong and hide your feelings away front me," she said as she stroked his neck and back.
I heard sobbing and realised that Jacob Black was crying; not only crying, he was crying his heart out.
"I just can't believe he's gone… He was only 50 years old for fuck's sake!" Jacob yelled, and my angel tried to soothe him.
"I know it's hard, and we have no idea why things happen the way they do. All you can do is keep his memory alive in your heart. I'll be here for you every step of the way. You never have to hide your feelings from me Jake."
He nodded his head and continued to cry.
"You remember when we were little and our dad's used to take us down to the lake to fish? I remember one day, my dad caught the largest fish I had ever seen in my life. I was so proud of him. I remember thinking that day that he was my hero. It's funny, when you're a kid, you think your parents will live forever…"
I suddenly had a very sick feeling in my stomach.
"In a way, I'm glad it was a heart attack; at least it was quick and he felt no pain... I'm going to miss my dad so much. Things like this make you realise how precious life is. I know I don't tell you enough, but I love you, honey," he said, looking up at her.
"I know, I love you too Jake."
They looked at each other for a long moment before she leaned in and kissed his cheek.
Wait, his cheek?
"I'm guessing that declaration would have sounded very different if taken out of context, and I'd bet that from where you were standing, a fair distance away, that kiss wouldn't have appeared to be on the cheek…" Aro mused.
They continued to look at each other, while she wiped the tears from his eyes.
"I meant what I said, Jake. I will be there for whatever you need. I know that you have Leah and it's hard to think about now, but if you need help with any of the arrangements, please don't hesitate to ask. Billy was like a second father to me. I'm sure Edward wouldn't mind helping out either."
"It would be nice to finally meet the man that has claimed your heart; I just wish it were under different circumstances…" Jacob sighed.
I couldn't listen to anymore.
I ran down the stairs and made a bolt toward the forest that had been my supposed sanctuary that night.
I didn't make it very far before the grief took over, and once again fell to my knees in the snow.
"Oh god, what have I done?" I cried.
"You doubted her love for you and abandoned her when she needed you the most, effectively ruining both of your lives… You saw and heard only what you wanted to, not even giving her a chance to explain before you turned your back and ran away from her. You have hated that boy for years and blamed him for your misery, when in fact the only person to blame is yourself. He had just lost his father to a heart attack, and was seeking comfort from his childhood friend. His father was like a second father to her also, and instead of mourning for him, she ended up mourning the loss of you… She was a mess. She didn't sleep or eat, she tried contacting you for weeks. She called, emailed, texted, wrote you letters, she even showed up on your doorstep, but you completely ignored her. Selfishly choosing to wallow in your own misery rather than helping her through hers…"
"Stop, please stop. I can't hear anymore," I cried brokenly.
But I knew he was right.
I should have confronted her about what I had seen, I should have answered her calls to let her explain, and more importantly, I should have been there to support her through an incredibly difficult time in her life.
But I was nothing but selfish…
I did only see and hear what I wanted to, and I had ruined lives in the process…
"Please Aro, please just take me home."
"As you wish," he said, and with a snap of his fingers, I was back in my living room.
The image on my television was like a slap in the face, as Judy Garland lit up the screen.
The 'Meet me in St. Louis' DVD must have re-started itself.
I looked around for Aro, but he was nowhere to be found.
I was physically and emotionally drained.
I walked toward the television, flicked it off, and with heavy feet, made my way up the stairs to my bedroom.
I didn't even bother changing, as I threw myself down on the mattress, and cried my heart out.
I awoke with a start, as my clocked chimed for two AM.
I got that feeling as though I were being watched, so reached over and turned on my bedside lamp.
I jumped as a figure emerged and started walking towards me, as I frantically looked around for something to use as a weapon.
"You won't need a weapon, dear one. I'm not here to hurt you."
I squinted, trying to allow my eyes to adjust to the light.
"Aro, is that you?"
"In the flesh, so to speak," he laughed.
"What are you doing back here?" I asked warily.
"Did you not listen to a single thing I told you, Edward? I told you that I would be the first of three visits you would have tonight," he said with a sigh.
"Oh, no. I meant, why are you back here? I just assumed that there were separate 'ghosts', like in the stories."
"Two hours ago, you didn't believe I existed, and now you are telling me what I'm supposed to be doing?" he laughed.
"It wasn't that funny," I muttered under my breath.
"Actually, you aren't far from the truth. There are three of us; Marcus is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Caius is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, but we are incredibly busy tonight, so here I am! Alright, let's get this show on the road!"
"Is this really necessary? I know I fucked up, but I just don't see how I can make it right after all this time. Some things are just too broken to be fixed…" I sighed.
"We can either do this the easy way or the hard way, Edward."
Without letting me finish, he snapped his fingers, and I suddenly found myself outside, still in my bed…
"Was that really necessary? My bed will get soaked now!" I yelled.
"Well, I did give you the option, and you clearly chose the hard way, so here we are," he said as he walked over to me and dragged me out of bed.
I was abruptly freezing, and looked down to find myself completely naked down below…
I looked up to see Aro holding my towel out to me.
"What the fuck?" I snarled as I ripped the towel from his hands and wrapped it around myself; I was so changing when I got back home…
"Well, you looked like you needed a bit of a wake up, and nothing wakes you up faster than cold air on your privates…" he said, shrugging his shoulders.
I gaped at him for a moment, honestly debating with myself as to whether he was mentally competent…
I shook the thoughts from my head, knowing full well that he could hear me.
If I was going to be stuck with him all night, I wanted him to at least be in a good mood.
I finally looked up and noticed that we were standing in front of a building that I had never seen before. It appeared to be an apartment block.
"What are we doing here?" I asked as I adjusted myself, trying to get my balls to descend back to their rightful positions.
"Well, I am now assuming the role of Ghost of Christmas Present. I'm going to show you how your actions are affecting everyone now."
He snapped his fingers and we were suddenly inside a warm apartment.
I looked around and took the place in.
It was very cosy, with warm colours and furniture. The furniture didn't match, but it all complimented the other.
I walked over to a photo frame and froze.
I was in my angel's home…
"Is this really…?" I asked, turning to face Aro.
He nodded and inclined his head, motioning to a doorway.
I followed down the hallway he had pointed out and heard a quiet sniffling.
I continued to walk until I came to a doorway, and what I saw inside broke my heart.
My beautiful angel was lying on her bed, curled up on her side cuddling a pillow with tears running down her cheeks.
I turned to look at Aro, asking for his permission to enter and receiving a nod in return.
I took a deep breath and entered her room.
I was immediately assaulted with her scent; strawberries with a touch of cinnamon.
God, I had missed that smell.
As I inched closer, I noticed that she had something in her hands, and as I stood next to her, I saw that it was a photo of us.
She was gripping it so tightly, and appeared to be lost in it.
It was a photo taken of us on our first Christmas morning together.
We were sitting on my parent's couch, completely wrapped up in each other, both in our pajamas. When she had arrived, she had insisted that I put mine on too, as she wanted me to be comfortable.
I hadn't realised I was crying until I felt a tear drop on to my hand.
"She does this every year on Christmas Eve, the night you broke her heart. She doesn't even watch 'Meet Me in St. Louis' anymore, as it reminds her too much of you. Every year she writes you a letter, wishing you a Merry Christmas and tells you how much she misses you, but she never sends it. Deep down, she knows that it will be marked as 'return to sender' and she couldn't bear it, so she locks them away in her photo box that she gets out every Christmas Eve. As you can see, she is still not over you, she just does a very good job at pretending," Aro said, as he stepped in to the room.
My tears started to fall more freely, as I watched my beauty weep over me.
"Please Aro, tell me how to fix this, tell me how to make it right…" I pleaded.
"I can't do that, Edward. Only you have the power to change the present," he said.
He held up his hands about to click but I stopped him.
"Please, just give me a minute?"
He nodded, so I walked forward and knelt beside my angel.
"I am so sorry, beautiful. I could say that a million times and it would still not be enough. But I promise you, I will try to fix this, I love you," I said, as I trailed the backs of my fingers across her cheek.
I let out a sigh of contentment and revelled in feeling her skin again for a moment.
I stood and nodded, and with a snap of his fingers, she was gone.
We were currently standing in the living room of my parent's house.
"What are we doing here?" I asked, truly concerned.
"It's about time you realised just how much you are hurting your family," he said, as he started for the kitchen.
I shuddered and had no choice but to follow him.
The house was full of people.
My parents were in the kitchen, Alice and Jasper were setting the dining room table, and my sister, Rosalie, was feeding her daughter, Jessica in the living room with her husband, Emmett.
"Dinner's ready," I heard my mother call out, as everyone made their way to the dining room and took their places.
I felt a pain in my chest as I looked to my seat and saw the same photo that my angel was holding earlier in a frame and sitting on the table; obviously my substitute.
"Everything looks amazing, Mom," Alice said.
"Thank you, dear," my mother responded, smiling in return but I noted it didn't touch her eyes.
"Well, shall we all say grace?" my father asked.
Everyone around the table held hands and bowed their heads.
"Thank you, Lord, for the food in which we are about to receive, for our family and friends. We are truly grateful that you have blessed us with so much love and happiness.
Please also watch over our son, Edward, who couldn't make it tonight, please keep him safe. Amen."
"Amen," the table muttered.
I heard sniffling, and looked up to find my mother excuse herself from the table and run upstairs.
"Dad, was that really necessary?" Alice asked.
"What? I simply wanted to recognise everyone in the family, Alice."
Alice excused herself and made her way up the stairs, obviously looking for my mother.
"Honestly, I hate that fucker so much right now. Even without being here, he manages to ruin every single Christmas. Can't he see what this is doing to Mom?" Rose said.
"Rosalie, that's enough. Your brother is going through a hard time at…"
"No Dad, not enough. I'm done making excuses for him. It's been four fucking years! He clearly doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself! He has no idea what the break-up did to everyone in this family, not to mention to her. No more excuses, he's no brother of mine," Rose spat, as she excused herself and followed Alice up the stairs.
Was I really that much of an ass that even my own family hated me?
"Yes," Aro said simply.
"Please Aro, please just take me home," I pleaded again.
"We have one more stop to make first," he said, as he snapped his fingers again.
I felt the snow under my boots and I was actually scared to open my eyes.
I didn't know how much more of this I could take…
I finally opened my eyes and found myself in the middle of a graveyard.
"Why are we here?"
"See for yourself," he said, as he pointed at the nearest tombstone.
I gasped when I read the name; it was mine…
"No, it can't be," I said, shaking my head back and forth.
There was a deep hole in the ground, and two men were currently filling it in.
"This is your funeral, Edward," he said.
I looked around and saw no one.
"Has it already finished?" I asked.
He shook his head and motioned in the direction of a minister, who was currently speaking.
The only people there were two women and a man I didn't recognise.
"Who are they?"
"That is your mother, your ex, and her new husband."
I ground my teeth thinking about my angel with someone else…
"Where's my father, and the rest of my family?"
Aro turned to face me.
"They refused to come… They tried to convince your mother not to come, but she was adamant. Even though you treated her horribly and never saw her, she still loved you and wanted to say goodbye."
"No, this isn't happening!" I screamed.
"Edward, this is your future if you continue on the path that you are on. Only you have the power to change your future, only you know what needs to be done…"
I woke up screaming, clutching at my chest.
"Aro?" I called, as I sat up in bed.
I was still dressed in my towel and accessories, even my boots were still intact.
I looked out of my bedroom window, and saw that the sun was up, a fresh layer of snow covering everything as far as the eye could see.
It was beautiful.
I jumped out of bed and ran over to check my calendar.
I hadn't missed Christmas!
My clock chimed six and I was abruptly reminded of Aro's parting words.
"Only you have the power to change your future, only you know what needs to be done…"
I hoped he was right.
I threw off my towel and jumped in to the shower, actually finding myself singing! I hadn't felt this light in years...
I finished in the shower quickly and got dressed in warm clothes; my balls were still recovering from the shock last night.
By the time I was showered, dressed and had a coffee, it was close to nine AM.
I grabbed my keys, wallet and phone and jumped in my car with only one destination in mind; Wal-Mart…
If I was going to do this Christmas thing, then fuck it, I was going to do it right!
Two hours, two carts and three fights later, I finally left Wal-Mart with all of my Christmas shopping done.
I know my family weren't exactly 'Wal-Mart' kind of people, especially Alice, but I was hoping that the thought would make up for it.
Thank fuck for twenty-four hour stores, at least they were open on a public holiday!
I didn't have the patience to wrap them all, so I invested in gift bags for everyone; another fucking life saver!
I swear, I almost kissed the check-out girl when I left!
I packed all of the presents in the car and drove like an absolute maniac to my parent's house; I just prayed that I hadn't completely missed Christmas morning.
Through the years we all will be together,
If the fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough,
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now…
I pulled in to the driveway and threw the car in park as I flung my door open.
I knew that there was only a very slim chance that my angel would be here, but if she was, I wanted to show her that I was willing to try, as I quickly changed…
I grabbed all of the presents, ran up the drive and rang the doorbell.
After a short wait, I was greeted by my mother, whose face went from smiling to a look of absolute shock.
"Edward? Is that really you?" she stammered.
"It's really me, Mom," I said, as I threw the presents down and enveloped her in a tight hug.
I felt her tears on my chest before I heard them, as I wrapped my arms more securely around her.
"I'm so sorry Mom, for being such an ass. I haven't been myself for… well, a long time. I know that's no excuse and I know it will be hard, but just know that I'm willing to work very hard for your forgiveness."
She sniffed, and pulled away to look at me.
"Oh, my darling boy, there's nothing to forgive. I'm just so glad you're here!" she cried.
"Honey, who's at the door?" I heard my father ask, and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me.
He blinked a few times, obviously thinking he was seeing things.
Trust me Dad, I know the feeling…
"Son, is that really you?"
I laughed. It almost felt as though I were dead, and they were thinking they were seeing a ghost…
I abruptly stopped laughing when I realised that due to my coldness and absence, that's exactly how they must feel…
"It's really me, Dad," I said, holding out my arms.
My father raced forward and threw his arms around me.
"It's so good to see you, son. I thought you weren't coming," he said as he pulled away to look at me.
"Well, let's just say that I had a change of heart," I replied.
"Here, let me help you bring those in," he said as he bent down to pick up some presents and I followed him in to the family room.
Fortunately for me, it seemed as though they were only half way through Christmas morning.
The room was immediately quiet as everyone turned to stare at me.
"Unca Eddie!" Jessica screamed as she came barrelling towards me.
"Hey little one, Merry Christmas!" I said as I picked her up and held her to my chest.
The others had the same shocked look on their faces as my mother had at the door.
I shifted uncomfortably under their scrutiny.
"Look, let me just get straight to the point. I've been a jackass to each and every one of you more times than I can count over the last four years, when none of you deserved it. All I can say is that I am profusely sorry. I know I don't deserve it, but I promise you that I will try my hardest to go back to being the person I was and do everything I can to earn your forgiveness. Especially you, Ali. I have no idea what came over me yesterday, I was a jerk, but please know that I didn't mean a word of what I said. You could say that I had an epiphany of sorts last night, and I promise to never let it happen again."
I placed Jessica down and returned my gaze to the floor, when I was almost knocked over by an unexpected force.
I looked up to find Alice's arms and legs wrapped around me as though she were hanging on for dear life.
"Apology accepted. I knew you would come, I just knew it! And by the way, it is the thought that counts, and I'm sure I'll love your present," she beamed at me as she untangled herself from me.
"How did you… know?"
"Call it sisterly intuition," she said, tapping her forehead.
I couldn't help but smile at her.
"Hey guys, sorry about before, I just…"
I heard the voice behind me, but I was unable to turn around.
Alice decided to give me a hand, spinning me on my heels so I was facing the voice.
There, standing in front of me, was my angel; dressed in none other than her flannel pajamas.
My dreams and memories of her hadn't done her justice.
Her eyes were red and puffy and I could tell she had been crying, but she had never looked more beautiful.
"Bella," I breathed.
God, it felt so good to be finally able to say her name…
"E… Edward. I'm so sorry. I didn't know you were going to be here this morning. I'll just grab my things and be out of your hair…"
"No! I mean, please don't go," I said, taking a step towards her.
She looked down at the ground, but stayed where she was.
After a minute of uncomfortable silence, Alice cleared her throat. I'm guessing it was some kind of signal, because the whole room dispersed, leaving me alone with my angel.
"So, how are you?" I asked, for lack of anything else to say.
"Ah, I've been better," she muttered and I felt a pang in my chest.
"No, Edward, please don't. You don't need to say anything. I honestly didn't know you would be here this morning or I wouldn't have come. The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable…" she said.
"Bella, please... Look, I know I have been an ass. I could apologise a million different times in a million different ways and it would never even come close to making up for my actions. I've been a selfish prick and I owe you an explanation."
"You don't owe me anything…"
"Please let me finish," I interrupted her.
I took a very deep breath.
"On Christmas Eve four years ago, I got home from class early, and drove to your house to surprise you, in more ways than one. But when I got there, I saw you out on your porch with a strange man. I was too far away to hear the whole conversation, but I heard you tell him you loved him and kiss him. I was so hurt that I didn't wait to hear anything else, I ran. I couldn't believe what I had seen, and to say I was devastated was an understatement. I knew you were the one for me, Bella, my other half. I was planning on proposing that night. So I avoided all of your correspondence without waiting for an explanation. I only found out last night why the man was there, and to say that I felt like a piece of shit, again would be understatement. I know Jacob's dad was like a second father to you, and I will never forgive myself for adding to that pain instead of being there for you, trying to help you heal it. I know you will never be able to forgive me, and I will not ask for it because frankly, I don't deserve it. I just wanted to give you some closure and tell you my idiotic reasonings. I always have, and always will love you, Bella. These last four years have been hell. I'm eternally sorry."
I looked up to see tears down her cheeks.
"You were planning on proposing?" she asked softly.
I simply nodded, I had nothing left to give or say.
"Edward, I can understand why you would jump to conclusions, but the fact of the matter is that you should have spoken to me about it. It could have all been cleared up instantly, rather than us being miserable for the last four years…"
I nodded again, as she took a step towards me.
"But, that doesn't change the way I feel about you. I've loved you since you rendered me unconscious that day in the library, and I will continue to love you until the day I die. You're it for me, Edward. I'm not saying that I can just forgive and forget the last four years, but can we try to be friends and see how things go from there?" she asked timidly.
"Bella Swan, would you please do me the honor of going on a date with me?"
She giggled and nodded.
I couldn't have wiped the shit-eating grin from my face even if I had wanted to.
After everything, my angel still loved me, and wanted to give us a second chance, slowly.
I walked over and wrapped her in my arms; being in her presence and her scent was heavenly.
"Bella, I have one last request. Will you watch 'Meet Me in St. Louis' with me after the presents have been handed out?"
"I would love to."
"I love you, Bella," I said as I released her.
"I love you too, Edward. And you have no idea how much it means to me that you wore your pajamas. I didn't think you would remember," she said as she placed her hand over my flannel-covered heart.
"Always, Bella. Always," I swore.
"Merry Christmas, Angel."