Chapter XV: Beautiful

*This is the final chapter of "Rekindling". Thank you so much for your support, your reviews, and your patience. It has been such an honor to receive all of your feedback, and it has been fun writing for all of you. I plan to launch new stories soon, and I would greatly appreciate any story ideas you can throw my way (because, honestly, I'm not sure where to go from here). I am truly grateful to have such a great audience, and I hope that this last chapter will not disappoint. I'll admit, this chapter even made me cry, and that's no small feat. Oh… one last thing. I heart you all.*

A few days after the departure of Peter and Charlotte, I took Alice out. I could feel that she had a bit of nagging confusion in her mind, and I wished to understand what was going on in her mind. I hated it when Alice felt negative emotions, however small they may be. With that in mind, I whisked her away into the woods so we could have some privacy.

We found a comfortable place to sit, and I took her hands in mine.

She foresaw why I had brought her to that place, and she knew the words I would use before I was able to form them. She looked up at me with her wide eyes and stated matter-of-factly, "You want to know what the matter is—why I'm confused."

"Yes," I replied, momentarily lost in the beauty of her amber eyes.

"It's something Charlotte said."

She fidgeted uncomfortably for a second. I sent her waves of love and reassurance.

"When you introduced me," she continued, "she said, 'I told you!' You changed the subject when I asked about it. I'm just wondering…"

She tapered off. I cringed slightly, expecting the worst. For her to feel this uncomfortable was very unusual.

"Why didn't you want to talk about it? Did something happen between you that you didn't want to share?"

I sat in shock for a moment. I pushed my love and adoration upon her, and I embraced her tightly. "No."

My reaction was enough to convince her that I was telling the truth. "Then what was it?"

I smiled slightly. The shock of her question strengthened my Southern accent, and I drawled embarrassingly, "Let me tell you a story about a silly, foolish young man named Jasper."

She let out the high-pitched giggle that I loved so much, and sat on my lap, snuggling into my body. "Story time?"

I chuckled in response. "That's right. You see, this young man had endured so much in his life. He had screwed up. A lot. He had done things that he never imagined he could, all in order to keep himself alive. His actions went against the very morals he was raised with, and he began to think of himself as a monster because of it."

Alice frowned slightly at the use of the word "monster". I sent her my emotional apology, and continued, "One day, he was rescued from that life by two of his friends, who had previously escaped. He traveled with them for a long time. He watched his friends recover, because they had each other to love and confide in. One day, when the young man was at his lowest point, the young man's male friend said that everything would be better if he could find a mate. The young man disagreed. He said that he was incapable of being loved because he was too emotionally and physically scarred. He said that no one could love a being as disgusting as himself. The young man's female friend said that someday, somehow, he would find a mate who would love each and every part of him. Yet, still he disagreed."

"So," Alice said, putting the pieces together, "she told you that you were loveable, and that there was someone out there for you, and you didn't think it was possible?"

"No, I didn't," I affirmed. "She proved me wrong, and I couldn't be happier about it."

Alice's heart was so overwhelmed with love that she began to sob. I held her close. As we enveloped each other under the silvery light of the moon, I understood. Discipline is hard. Coping with past memories is hard. Losing the ones who can relate is hard. But sometimes people have to deal with pain to be able to enjoy the things that matter in life. I had endured enough pain and darkness in my life to make the joyful moments that much more beautiful.

We began to kiss passionately, two beings as one, and sank into the bliss that was strong enough to conquer that darkness.