An Introduction to Swirl and Daisy: The Non-Romantic Romance
A/N: Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this story, whether this was your first time or your fifth! If you enjoyed these characters, check out the companion piece, The Misadventures of Daisy and Swirl, which is 33 silly, between-the-scenes "snapshots" into their lives. Also, go to the Swirl and Daisy section of my FFn profile to find outtakes, deleted scenes, and other extras.
Finally, FINALLY I am here with one final thank you to my beta, xsecretxkeeperx. This story wouldn't be anything resembling what it is without her. Thank you, Dori, for taking my 3 AM phone calls. Thank you for, at times, turning utter crap into something marvelous. Thank you for sticking with this for five years. Thank you for laughing at all my jokes, telling me when it's stupid, and being my best friend.
Okay. On with the show, folks!
Chapter 39: A Farewell
. . .
"Hey, Bella! Bella!" Jessica Stanley whisper-hissed over Lee Stephens. I turned from the sea of ugly, yellow graduation caps in front of me to look at her. "Is it true you and Edward did an interview for TIME magazine?"
I instantly wished I had ignored her and pretended to be absorbed by Principal Benson's speech on our potential and the hard work it would take to fulfill it. If only. I'd been drifting in and out for the past ten minutes, choosing instead to admire Edward, our class valedictorian, who was sitting on the raised platform just behind Benson with the other speakers and honorees. Binoculars would have been handy at a time like this.
"It was only a little interview for a blurb on young entrepreneurs," I whispered back.
"Oh. Em. Gee. You're, like, totally famous," she said.
"I— um, no," I said with a tight-lipped smile.
We had tried to keep the MyT-Spot deal a secret until after graduation, but there was no restraining the cat in that bag. It seemed like the whole town knew by the end of Prom weekend, and now we had no choice but to manage a slew of gossip and inquiries we were not prepared for, from a bunch of people who had hardly ever spared us two glances.
"What about the party tonight? Do you have any inside deets? I heard there's going to be an actual white tiger."
"That's all Alice," I answered shortly. Alice had begged and begged for us to let her throw a graduation party at Mrs. Evans' mansion—our mansion. Edward was the one who had finally conceded after Jasper called, begging for the sake of his sanity. There were conditions, though. All bedrooms were locked up tight, especially ours, and Alice had to do all the work. She better not have ordered a white tiger.
"Who's DJing?" Jessica pressed. "Is it true you got—"
Benson's voice floated above hers. "… a student who exemplifies the determination, will, and work ethic necessary to follow…"
"Shh. Shh. Shh." I swatted away Jessica's questions. "This is Edward."
Benson wasn't going to give up the microphone so easily. He took another two minutes to announce in embarrassing detail all the things Edward and I had tried to keep quiet over the past couple weeks, finishing his introduction with a note about all the achievements he was sure Edward was going to accomplish at Dartmouth. Normally I would be thrilled for such admiration to be thrown Edward's way, but the more Benson spoke, the more flustered Edward seemed to get. He'd come a long way from that boy who hardly spoke in eighth grade, but speaking in public was still not his forte.
I let out a ripping stream of hollars above the crowd's applause as Edward took the podium. His gaze flitted in my direction, his mouth warming into a smile. Pride swelled in my chest. This was my man. As the gym quieted, he laid out his speech-covered papers and took a deep breath.
"Hello, Forks High Graduating Class of 2006," he said with a small wave and a nervous chuckle. "Today, I stand before you tasked with representing 153 individual high school experiences. I wouldn't dare. It would be an injustice to even attempt it. 153 students could all go see the exact same baseball game. Inevitably, 153 different sets of memories will walk out of that stadium. Realizing this is one of the more beautiful things about high school, particularly when you learn that it is our differences, not our similarities, that define who we are."
So far, so good, I thought. I didn't know what he had planned or where he was going. He'd staunchly refused to give me so much as a sneak peek of his speech.
"With that said, there is one very important thing all 153 of us have in common. We're each walking out of here with a diploma in hand." The entire student body exploded into a chorus of applause and cheers. "Yes, we're all very excited. But for some, maybe, there's also a feeling of loss. Tomorrow, we wake to a world where we don't see the faces of our teachers and classmates five days a week; where we don't come back to this building, which, for four years, has been our home away from home; where goodbye is a necessity for growth."
I didn't know about all that. I, personally, was getting pretty antsy to move clear across the country where nobody knew my name or financial status.
"It's a lot to process, but there's someone in this audience who summed up the whole experience much better than I ever could in the admissions essay that got her accepted to no less than seven Ivy League colleges." I sat stock-still as Edward turned the page of his speech. He couldn't mean… "I'd like to read you an excerpt of this essay, written by Bella Swan, who earned a reputation so geeky, her nickname is Harry Potter Girl. As a side note, she was also the Homecoming queen."
There was not a red known to man that could match the deep flush of my cheeks as everyone turned to look at me. I slid down in my seat and tried to hide my face with my cap. Oh, my God. I was going to kill him.
" 'Dear Mr. Harry Potter,' " he read out loud and clear. The crowd tittered and a few "Whoop! Whoops!" floated my way. I wanted to sink into the Earth and dissolve into a billion tiny particles of matter. The smile in Edward's voice was evident as he continued.
" 'I will always cherish the memories we have together: the midnight release parties, the hand-painted posters, the vast collection of Potterphernalia I have acquired over these last several years. You have been my friend, have taught me about growing up, have inspired me and given me the courage to fight for what I want.
" 'An idea has ignited within me a passion stronger than I have ever known; it is a vision of me in college, working toward something much greater than an obsession with a fictional character, working, perhaps, toward something created by me. That idea doesn't become reality if I'm planning your next release party.' "
Snickers rose from the crowd in tiny bursts, some lines drawing louder laughs than others. I found myself reluctantly joining in. I was still going to flay Edward alive for this, but the way he read it with confident humor didn't make it sound so very terrible.
" 'It is with sadness and regret, but also a strong feeling of hope and rightness, that I must inform you of our parting of ways. The top shelf on my bookcase that once belonged to you will soon play host instead to an assortment of textbooks and binders. The posters of you that have hung on my wall since I was a young girl will be packed away in boxes and replaced with homework assignments and charts of code and data. My wardrobe will drastically change from that of Gryffindor scarves and Quidditch jerseys to the proud colors of…' " Edward paused. "This was where she inserted the colors of whichever college she was applying to." The crowd laughed again.
"The essay goes on for another several paragraphs, very creatively weaving Miss Swan's extensive resume and personal attributes throughout an emotional goodbye. It's the conclusion, though, that I'm particularly fond of." Finally, my humiliation ebbed enough to chance a peek from under my cap. Edward was looking right at me, glowing. I rolled my eyes and smiled back, giving him my blessing to finish his speech. Who was I kidding? I never could stay mad at that man.
" 'Mr. Potter,' " he said, " 'I've loved every minute I've spent in your magical world, but it's time I start having my own adventures. I've come to see that the real world we live in has a magic all its own, and that with hard work and perseverance, we can write our own life stories. Better yet, we can live them. Here I am, moving on from you, Harry Potter, but hopefully never forsaking the magic.
" 'Yours Truly, Bella Swan.' "
The gym filled with applause. "Go, Bella!" I heard my dad shout from somewhere behind me. Emmett was catcalling loudly a few rows ahead. I burrowed my face in my palms, too embarrassed to so much as raise a hand in acknowledgement.
"That was awesome," I heard Jessica say. She was tugging at my sleeve. I doubted she would have thought so if I wasn't worth millions now.
"My fellow classmates," Edward addressed the crowd again, "All the things that Mr. Benson said about me before I came up here are true. I got good grades. I'm going to Dartmouth. Bella and I are now, at the risk of sounding extremely rude, completely loaded. But my biggest success and greatest happiness is the one that comes easiest to me, the one I don't work at, because it comes to me like breathing." His stare was piercing. "Love."
I put my hand over my heart and mouthed, "I love you," back.
"Whatever you do, live your life," he said. "Make it what you want it. Be happy. That's the true measure of success.
"I leave you with one last short poem from my personal hero, J.R.R. Tolkien.
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
"From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."
The crowd was silent, as if waiting for more. Clearly feeling the pressure, Edward suddenly called, "To The Lord of the Rings!" with an impulsive fist pump. I clamped a hand over my mouth and almost fell out of my chair with laughter. There was no better way for the Ringer to end his speech.
Edward turned to retake his seat, and the applause and cheers and laughter was even louder than before. It took Mr. Benson a solid minute to settle the graduating class down enough to present the next speaker. It took even longer for the smile to slide off my face, but Ms. Cope, who I'd never liked in the first place, managed to do it eventually when she got up to recite a long, boring poem from some long, boring book in a long, boring voice.
I took the opportunity to slip from my sleeve a graduation program we'd been given before the start of the ceremony. It listed all the members of our graduating class, as well as the speaking schedule. I'd used it as a makeshift yearbook for my friends to sign.
My actual yearbook was filled to capacity with several inscriptions from classmates who "didn't have much of a chance to get to know" me but knew what an "awesome person" I was, dozens of congratulations on all my inevitable future successes, and at least five doodles of Harry Potter with his wand and lightning bolt scar. There was only about half a page of blank space left, which Edward had reserved by boxing it in and penning a small threat to anyone who dared sign there. The sophomore known as "Suspense" had amassed the guts to write within the forsaken lines, "You'll always be the girl of my dreams, Bella Swan." Edward had retaliated over lunch by "accidentally" spilling a cup of ice-cold water over Suspense's nether region.
As Ms. Cope droned on, I perused my friends' final thoughts on our time in high school. Alice's bubbly, all caps signature caught my attention, particularly the first line. "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S FINALLY OVER!" An emotion tugged in my stomach and I felt the momentary impulse to cry. It was over. High school. Security. Childhood.
It surprised me how hard it hit me. It surprised me it hit me at all. I took the moment to take it in, to feel the sorrow, to feel the grief. This was it. A few more minutes in this gym, with these people, and it was time to move on with my life. I had written the words of my essay so many months ago, but it never seemed as real as it did this instant, not even when Edward was reading it out loud.
As soon as that diploma was in my hand, my introduction to the world would be complete and I'd get straight to work on the story of my life. I ducked my head back to my program, hiding the miniscule smile that pulled at my lips at the thought of a small, emerald green box sitting in my backpack. I knew exactly where I wanted that story to start.
. . .
I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S FINALLY OVER!
COMING UP WITH AND EXECUTING THE
DIABOLICAL PLOT HAS TO BE ONE OF
MY FAVORITE HIGH SCHOOL MEMORIES.
CAN YOU BELIEVE WE PULLED IT OFF AND
I'VE BEEN WITH JASPER A WHOLE YEAR?
I'M REALLY GOING TO MISS YOU WHEN
YOU GO AWAY FOR COLLEGE. I WISH YOU
WERE GOING TO UDUB SO YOU COULD
PLEDGE A SORORITY WITH ME.
AT LEAST WE HAVE ONE MORE THING
THAT'S GOING TO PASS US INTO FORKS
HIGH LEGEND—OUR GRADUATION PARTY!
TRUST ME. IT'S GOING TO BE
LOVE YOU LIKE A SISTER!
I can't believe we actually became
friends after how much we hated
each other in middle school.
I can't believe it.
I think you're going to have an
amazing time at UDUB. Make sure
to keep your MySpace updated. I
want to see all the weird things you
have to do when pledging!
I know you're going to do great in
college because there's no
stopping Alice Brandon once she
puts her mind to something.
I can't believe it. Lol.
I'm sure I'll see you many more
times over the course of our lives,
but I'm kinda going to miss you
during the in between.
Goodbye for now,
Bella, Bella, Bella.
What to say? You're such a beautiful
and wonderful person! What would I
have done these past 5(!) years without
you? We laughed together, we cried
together, and we even screamed at
each other. Actually, I don't think we
ever got in a fight! The screaming was
purely Harry Potter related. Props to us!
I know for a fact that this is not goodbye
between you and me. We're only going to
be seven or eight states apart for college,
and really, there's not enough distance
in the world to stop our friendship.
Reach for the stars. You are going to
change the world. I can feel it.
Your Bestest Best Friend,
Remember that time in junior year when
we memorized all the words to POA's
"Double, Double, Toil and Trouble" and
came up with a choreographed dance?
I still remember all the moves! We were
What am I saying? We're still as crazy as
ever and still best friends. Let's not ever
forget these memories and many more.
Like when you locked us out of your car
on the interstate (in the rain, no less)!
You are a beautiful, smart, fun, talented
girl, and you always put a smile on my
face. I couldn't have gotten through
the last 5 years without you and don't
ever want to lose you.
Your bestest best friend,
P.S. Something Wicked This Way Comes!
The ride from hell is over.
Congratulations on your millions.
Just… best of luck out there.
Keep Emmett in line.
It is good to finally be done! I hope you
have a great time at college. Let me know
if you're working on any new websites
and I'll be sure to check them out.
You have a real talent. Keep up the
It has been fun knowing you through
the years! Good luck next year and
with following your dream of directing
martial arts movies.
You can do it!
Have you heard this one?
Me: Knock, Knock
You: Who's There?
Me: You know
You: You know who?
Me: No. You know.
You: You know who?
Me: No. I'm not You-Know-Who.
You know who I am.
Me: It's yo mamma!
What do you think? I came up
with it myself.
Have a great summer!
You know I will!
I don't know what to say, except that
you are someone I will truly miss.
Don't worry. I'll be back from college
next summer for the book release
(it better be released then! I'm dying)
and the Order of the Phoenix movie.
We'll keep the tradition alive by
Don't trip on your graduation gown
on the way up to accept your diploma!
And please tell me you're wearing
something underneath it…
See ya tonight!
. . .
About a half mile from the mansion on Mrs. Evans' property—our property—Edward and I had discovered a break in the forest, a meadow that looked the embodiment of Spring, painted blue and yellow and white with wildflowers. The sun bathed us in a glowing warmth as we lay sprawled on our picnic blankets in post-graduation bliss.
"You know who?" Edward said.
"No. It's you know. Wait. I messed that up. It's just you know. Ya know?"
"Just say 'you know who' again," I said.
"You know who?"
"No. I'm not You-Know-Who. You know who I am."
"It's yo mamma."
He was silent, staring. "I don't get it."
"Come on! It's a Harry Potter joke and a yo mamma joke all in one."
Edward's stomach vibrated under my head as he chuckled. "That is truly a terrible joke."
"Maybe Emmett's the only one who can pull it off."
"Even then, I'm not so sure." He brushed a strand of my hair and I smiled, content. "If you had to pick just one, what would you say is your favorite Emmett-related high school memory?"
"There's a lot of good ones, but I'd have to go with the senior prank. You?"
"The time in freshman year when he had my back in the fight with Mike Newton."
"Riiight," I said, dragging out the word as I recalled the one thing that still stood out to me after all these years. "God, you were sexy with that shiner." Edward laughed again and I rolled over so I was facing him. "Okay. Favorite memory from freshman year."
"That one's way too easy," Edward said. "On the count of three. One. Two. Three."
"Valentine's Day," we said in unison and high-fived.
"When you showed up to the dance dressed as Harry Potter."
"And you told me you loved me for the first time."
"And you told me you loved me for the first time in English," I retorted.
"I admit, I was a wee bit of a coward back then." Edward held up his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.
I grabbed his fingers and widened the gap significantly. "That's more like it." He took the opportunity to grab my hand and kiss it. "What about sophomore year?"
"Another easy one," he said. "The end of year baseball game where you dressed up as the catcher and helped me hit my first home run."
"Oh, yeah," I said. "I'd totally forgotten about that. Actually, now that I think about it, I can't remember a lot of sophomore year. What did we do that year?"
"It's funny how when you're experiencing things, you think you'll never forget them. Then a few years later you find a picture or ticket stub or something that reminds you that you did forget."
I picked at a small thread on his blue t-shirt. "That's very insightful, Edward."
"It's too bad I only just now thought of it or I could have included it in my speech."
"Yeah. You could have done that instead of reading my freaking admissions essay," I said, pinching his side.
"Hey, hey, hey!" He sat up and swatted my hand away. "In case you didn't notice, that essay went over swimmingly. It was a brilliant idea."
I stuck out my tongue. He took the opportunity to lick it. "Ahh!" I laughed, pushing him away. "In all seriousness, though, watching you up there definitely cracked my top five Edward-related high school memories. I could hardly contain how proud I was."
"Top five? Now I'm curious. What are the other four?"
Thinking it over quickly I said, "I'll tell you, but I'm not including anything sex-related for fairness' sake."
Edward nodded. "That is fair."
"Number five, your speech. Number four, freezing on the beach as you gave me my daisy ring. Number three, when you sang 'Hey There Delilah' at the senior showcase, but replaced Delilah with Bella. You're definitely not a pop star, but it was still so stinking sweet. Two, when you agreed to let us keep Willow." I gave our furbaby a syrupy glance as he chewed on his paw a few yards away. "And number one, when I found out we were millionaires."
"Willow doesn't top the money? That's cold-blooded," Edward joked.
"It's a lot of money!"
"Well, if Willow can't do it, I don't think anything can."
"I have a feeling something will." I had a feeling something would very soon. I eyed my backpack which was sitting about a foot from us and butterflies erupted in my stomach. I covered it up with a shrill, "Your turn."
"Off the top of my head… watching you, Angela, Alice, Rosalie, and that puppet dress up as *NSYNC and perform 'Bye Bye Bye' for the senior showcase."
"We were awesome," I agreed.
"Awesome? Nope. Laughable? Absolutely." I elbowed him and he continued after a kiss on my nose. "I've already mentioned baseball and Valentine's Day, so I'm going to skip over those and instead go with any time you've ever attempted to cook for me. Our vows, obviously. Sir Mix-a-Lot. And number one would have to be a few weeks ago when you fulfilled my ultimate sexual fantasy and with such incredible elven detail." He sighed deeply and stroked the curve of my ear. "Bellewyn Riel."
"Men," I said bleakly.
He laughed and began to stand up. "It's going to get dark soon. We should probably get back to the house before people start showing up. Heaven knows what Alice has done to it by now."
"Wait!" I grabbed his arm. "Before we go, shouldn't we sign each other's yearbooks?" Suddenly, my heart was pounding and I was having difficulty keeping my breath steady.
Edward shook his head and settled back down. "You're right. What was I thinking? This is the last time we're going to be alone for the rest of the night. I hear this party is supposed to be epic."
Edward reached over and grabbed his backpack and I did the same. "Epic. I think that's the new 'it phrase.' I've been seeing it online a lot."
"Ahhh," I said distractedly, rooting around my backpack for the little, green box. As soon as it was located, I made sure Edward was preoccupied with his yearbook pen, before slipping it out and wedging it between my crisscrossed legs. I gulped. This was actually happening.
"Okay. It works," Edward said, turning back to me. "Where's your yearbook?"
"In my backpack," I said. "I was actually wondering if I could sign your yearbook first."
His eyes narrowed, surprised and suspicious. "You've never asked that before."
"I know. It won't take long, I promise. There's only one thing I really need to say."
I opened his yearbook to my designated page and jotted down the eleven words I had been reciting over and over in my head since I'd decided to do this. The book passed shakily from my hands to his, and as he read the inscription, I fumbled to open the box in my lap until a ring was showing.
The One Ring.
Nah. It was the engagement ring I'd designed for Edward months ago, perfect as it ever was: engraved swirls on the outside, Edward's favorite Elvish phrase on the inside. I blew out a breath and awaited his reaction.
Slowly, he lowered the yearbook, his eyes wide, his mouth in an astonished "O."
He was taking too long to speak. He was taking too long to blink. Proposing was brutal.
"Well… will you?" I asked, sounding like an angry, old hag rather than someone who was actually searching for a yes. "Oh, shit." I smacked my forehead and scrambled up. "I forgot to kneel. I knew I was going to forget something."
Edward's astonishment transformed into something akin to amusement as I repositioned myself and tried again. "Well… will you?" I asked in a flowery, delicate tone.
"Are you, um…" Edward's head tilted down and I saw his tongue lick through a breathtaking grin. He composed himself and looked back up. "Are you sure you're ready?"
"Come on, man! I'm here with the personalized grand gesture, the knee, the ring. This isn't an impulse decision. I want to marry you, Edward Cullen."
"Before…" he reminded me hesitantly.
"Before, I didn't know who I was. Now, I finally realize what I want from this life. Being with you, and creating things with you, and marrying you is a huge part of it." My voice hitched as I felt the impact of my own words. It felt beyond incredible to mean them. "I'm ready, Edward. I'm ready."
His hands slipped into my hair, pulling me to him. His tears mingled with mine. His lips conveyed every emotion he felt without a single word.
"Wait," he said, pulling back and brushing the wetness under my eyes away with his thumbs. "Wait a minute."
"Okay," I said, biting my lip.
"Where is your yearbook?" he asked seriously.
I hiccuped a laugh and pulled it out of my backpack. My eyes greedily gobbled up every scribbled word as it was written, but Edward still held it up to me after he was done and said, "That's my answer." It was the least eloquent yearbook entry he'd ever written, but it was by far his best.
When I was younger, I thought Edward was beyond perfect. Now, I could see that it had always been his flawed edges that fit perfectly to mine that drew me to him, and him to me. If given the chance, not even another seventeen million could have convinced me to change a second of our non-romantic romance.
Maybe eighteen million and the chance to meet Daniel Radcliffe.
Nope. Not even then.
"I have an official retraction," Edward beamed as I slipped the ring on his finger. "This, right here, right now, is my new number one."
"No retraction necessary," I said. "We're not in high school anymore. It's time for a new list."
. . .
Will you marry me?
Amin mela lle,
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
I love you a million times over,
. . .