A/N I can't believe that it has all finally come to an end. I would like to apologize for how long it took for this story to become complete. It has been very trying at times, and, with little kids who require constant attention, it has been a struggle to find a good time to write.
I have to thank my beta, Breathoftwilight, first and foremost. If it wasn't for her, I'd be lost most of the time. She is one of my closest friends and I love her dearly.
I want to thank coldplaywhore all of her support. She interviewed me last July and has stuck with me through this little story and I am so grateful to her.
To smokefairy, you're the best cousin a girl could ask for and you've supported me through it all. Thank you :)
And to my readers, especially the ones that have stuck by me from day one on into my other stories, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I always try and strive to give you my best and I appreciate all of your feedback, both positive and negative, more than I could ever express in words.
I have never begged for reviews, but I would really appreciate your feedback since this is the last chapter. It would really mean a lot to me. The complete button has now been pressed. I hope you enjoy the conclusion.
The song for the last chapter was Breathe In, Breathe Out by Mat Kearney, I forgot to post it with the last chapter.
The song for this chapter is You've Got The Love by Florence + The Machine.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Stephanie Meyer is a goddess and she owns everything. No copyright infringement intended.
I couldn't believe what I had done. I admitted to Edward that I was going to have Alice change me. I thought I could be strong enough to keep this secret from him, but in the end, I didn't think I truly would have gone through with it. I felt a ridiculous amount of relief that he was going to be the one to change me and that he would forgive me for what I was planning. Thinking hard about it while watching the pain it caused Edward; I guess I hadn't really thought of any repercussions of my actions.
I had been trying to reconcile this decision for weeks, anyway. I felt like I stood to lose too much if I had asked Edward to change me, and that was a risk I wasn't willing to take. With my back against a wall, I made a decision that I should have made with my partner. When push came to shove with Edward, I never knew what his reaction was going to be. To say that I was surprised that he wanted me to allow him to change me was a huge understatement. Especially when he said that we would let it happen when it felt right.
When he had pointed out that I had essentially done the same thing to him that he had done to me, it took me back a bit. However, the longer I thought about it, the irony was not lost on me, and I was deeply disappointed in myself. He was so understanding about all of it, but I just couldn't keep my tears at bay. He held me for a long time and comforted my fears, assuring me that this was all new for both of us and we'd make it work. No matter what, we were in this together, forever.
We had been getting along so well for awhile and I just couldn't believe how it was starting to feel like he had never left, but I couldn't help but worry that I had now set us back a bit. The tears in my soul were starting to mend, and it was thanks to my amazing man. I didn't want it to end. If we were both willing to make it work and communicate there would be nothing to stand in our way.
Angela had met with me several times over the last week of my employment at Forks High. I loved her with every fiber of my being. She had truly been there for me when I had felt the most alone. If there was one person that I was going to miss, it would be Angela.
Edward had mentioned that he was going to figure out a way that we could stay in touch with each other. I loved the idea, but I couldn't figure out how I could do that without disclosing my true nature. Angela could handle it, but in any case, I knew she wouldn't believe me; and I wouldn't risk the Cullen's in such a way, either. I figured that it would be enough to at least write her letters occasionally. I wouldn't be able to send pictures but was definitely not opposed to writing her letters or emails. In the long run, it would probably be easier to keep secrets from her if I didn't have to hear her voice.
My replacement came in the form of a sweet, middle-aged woman named Beatrice Winter. Bea Winter was single and had come to Washington and Forks, more specifically, for this job in particular. It was bittersweet meeting her, and then introducing her to my students. I was at least comforted by the fact that they would be left with such a nice teacher.
Bea shadowed me for the last week, and I got to spend quite a bit of time with her. I found out that she was still staying in the Forks Motel and had yet to come across a place to rent. Knowing what I did of her made me confident that this would be the perfect person to take care of mine and Charlie's home. I wasn't sure how long she would want to stay but I felt like she would be a perfect tenant, and I would even have the added benefit of being able to check in on the student's occasionally. I wasn't sure quite how to bring it up to her, though. When the opportunity finally arose, three days after our initial meeting, I jumped at the chance to ask her.
"I just can't seem to find a place to live in town. There have been a few places between here and Port Angeles, but I was really hoping that I wouldn't have to travel very far to school. I would really love the opportunity to be able to walk to school sometimes, especially on warmer days."
I had to hold back a chuckle.
"Bea, I hate to be the one to tell you, but, there aren't going to be many of those days during the school year. I don't know how much research you did before you took this position, but it rains here, a lot."
"I know, but I just really love to be outdoors so this may take some getting used to if I can't be out all the time."
"Well, no worries. It does let up occasionally. As long as you aren't opposed to some wet hair you should be fine. I'm actually a jogger. I don't jog to work or anything, but I still manage to do it almost every day. Even in the rain. So, you said that you wanted to be able to walk to work? I just might have the perfect thing for you."
I proceeded to fill her in on my home, telling her that there was a chance that I wouldn't be back for quite a long time. I hated to see the house vacant without any kind of life in it. The house and the town of Forks was my last tie to Charlie, and I wasn't so readily willing to give that up completely.
Bea was so excited and wanted to come over to see it immediately. I had to put her off a little bit, saying that I had other places to be and things to take care of. My main concern was being able to make sure that Edward wouldn't be home when she wanted to look at the house. The Cullen's had managed to staying relatively hidden the months that they had been back, not once really showing their presence in town.
When I arrived home after my talk with Bea, Edward and I decided that the next day would actually be a good time for her to come over. Edward, Jasper, and Emmett had already planned on an early hunting trip and they weren't to return until later that night. Edward needed to hunt regularly in order to keep fairly full. His thought was that if he was constantly full then when it came time to change me there would be less temptation. I don't know how true that would be, but it couldn't hurt. Not that it would matter in the end anyway. I was going to be changed, one way or another, by the man I loved with my entire being.
The next day, at school, I informed Bea; and she was ecstatic. The day passed swiftly, and before I knew it, I was giving Bea the grand tour of my home.
It was hard having her in my home for a multitude of reasons, the biggest being that she would have been perfect for Charlie; and it made me sad to think on what they both had missed out on. It also reminded me that I would soon be leaving and that this house would no longer be the one that I went home to at night. This house harbored so many memories, both good and bad, and was the one place that I had ever ventured to actually call 'home'. The more I thought on it, though; Edward was my home, too. More importantly, where he was would forever be the only place I ever wanted to be.
After spending the next hour with Bea, she was more than ready to sign anything in order to move into this house, even going so far as to ask if she could paint walls and make improvements. I was happy to know that the house would be taken care of. I also planned on reimbursing any money that she spent on renovations and keeping her rent low since I would be totally unavailable to her in the near future, only reachable by telephone or through the mail.
With the lease agreement signed and the last glass of wine gone, I wished Bea a good night and then curled up on the couch to wait for Edward. It had been such an emotional day that I didn't even wake up when he walked through the door. Only when he held me in his arms and walked us to our room did I even stir.
"How was your hunting trip?" I asked, trying to make casual conversation with him since I hadn't seen him since early this morning, before I left for my jog.
"Uneventful, if you don't count the fact that Emmett plays with his food too much. Rosalie is going to have his hide when she sees the new clothes she just bought him are destroyed."
I couldn't help but laugh. I knew it wasn't about the clothes. It was just, more or less, that Emmett was careless and she hated that he really had no regard for himself, even if he was nearly indestructible.
"How did your meeting with Ms. Winter go?"
"It was great. This house is perfect for her, and she wants it so bad."
"But? I can hear it in your voice, Bella, you're upset."
"It's not that I'm upset, per se, it's just that having her here in this house reminded me of Charlie so much. They would have been perfect for each other, but I can't dwell on it since it isn't something that I can change."
"No, sweetheart, it's not. I'm sorry that it was hard for you, but I'm glad that she's come into your life. If for no other reason than the fact that she will be taking care of this little bit of Charlie for you."
And that was ultimately what it all boiled down to. Bea was going to be taking care of the last tie I had to my father, and that made me very happy.
After stripping each other of our clothes, we made love slowly, and then Edward held me tight against his chest.
My last day at Forks High was definitely a sad one. All of my students presented me with gifts, flowers, and cards. I was so touched that words couldn't describe my feelings. Even Bea presented me with a small, personalized pen to take with me abroad. I was so touched that I couldn't keep the tears from silently falling down my cheeks. After the last student left campus, the faculty also gave me a going away party. Each teacher and administrator that I had ever worked with all bestowed a small gift to me. I was overwhelmed, to say the least, and was surprised at the amount of well wishing that they were giving me. Even Mike came to wish me well and somehow managed to contain his usual antics.
That night when I walked through the door, Edward was waiting for me with dinner, a glass of wine, and thousands of little tiny candles all over the living room. We made love again, right there in the middle of the living room, surrounded by all these little points of light. It almost felt like we were suspended among the stars.
The next morning, I headed to meet Angela for our last morning coffee we would ever have. As far as everyone knew, I would be leaving the following day to get myself situated after the long Christmas holiday. I didn't want to be hanging around when I could be starting the rest of my life at any moment. Besides, everyone else had families to spend Christmas with. Now, I would, too.
I thought a lot about how things were coming together on that last drive to Port Angeles. I was honestly scared to death about my change, but at the same time, I was more than ready. I knew that my place was with Edward, in his world; it always had been. I could not muster a shred of guilt over what I was about to embark on. If Angela knew what I was actually going to do, I think she would have been supportive. Having known the Cullen's, she would have to have known that my place was with Edward, no matter what that entailed.
Coffee was strained, but only because we were going to miss each other so much and it truly felt like we were saying good bye. When we were finished, neither of us was in a rush to leave. Finally, Ben called and said that they had a dinner they needed to get ready for in Seattle. Angela didn't want to leave but I convinced her that I would call her all the time. I hadn't known where we were planning to go, but Edward told me that they got me a cell phone from the UK so that any caller id would show that I was actually across the Atlantic.
With a heavy heart, I said good bye to the best friend that I ever had. We cried and held each other before finally letting go. As I watched her drive off, it truly, finally felt like this was all actually happening. I got in the Jeep, which I had decided to sell to Bea, as well, and headed over to the Forks Motel so that I could leave her with the car and house keys.
All of the Cullen's were packing up the entirety of my little house, including all of Charlie's belongings and storing them for me at their house. I decided that since I never actually planned on living in the house again that I should clear it out completely. I had directed Edward to the things that I wanted to take with me, and both he and Alice promised to make sure that they were left out. After stopping for gas, I made my way to Bea, leaving my car and all the necessary documents pertaining to the house and all of my contact information. Her plan was to move in the next day and it was easy to see her excitement bubbling at the surface.
It struck me that she would be essentially living the life that I would have had, had Edward not come back. It was strange to see her so content, but the fact that she didn't have an Edward meant that she had no idea what she was missing.
I left her and decided that I would just jog home. It could very well be one of the last times that I was going to be able to do that. Another realization hit me; the last bit of business that tied me here had been severed. I was now free to follow my heart.
When I finally returned home, Edward was waiting for me on the front porch. He almost looked older in a strange way and I couldn't help the surge of excitement that course through me at the adventure that lay ahead of us. I held all the love from this one amazing man and it made me deliriously happy.
I walked into my little house and was surprised at how empty the place seemed. I was leaving almost all of the furniture, save a piece or two that were sentimental but other than that it was like the place seemed like we hadn't lived there.
"Jacob came by," Edward said from behind me, catching me completely off guard. I had totally and completely forgotten about Jacob, Haven, and Billy. "I told him that you were with Angela and I would have you call him when you got back."
"You spoke with him? What did you talk about?"
Edward laughed, making me wonder what I was missing.
"Yes, Bella, I spoke with him, and we were civil. He just really wanted to see you. Apparently, he heard about you leaving and knew that it had something to do with us. We had quite a nice talk, actually. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement, but Jacob can be quite agreeable when he finally realized that you were happy."
"You guys had a nice talk? Are you serious? I mean, I'm glad, it's just, are you serious right now?"
"Yes, of course, Bella. I was actually going to suggest that you go to see him before we left but he showed up here and we talked before I had the chance. I told him that I thought you'd like to be able to say goodbye to him in person, but he was worried that you wouldn't want to see him."
"Of course I'd want to see him. Jacob is like family. Why would he think that?"
"Well, it could be because he said that he didn't want to talk to you again. He was really worried about that. I don't think I've ever seen Jacob so apologetic. Come to think of it, I haven't ever seen Jacob as anything but angry because of us. So, it was a quite a change."
"So, I should go, right now? Do you think he'll be okay if I just show up?"
"I definitely think it would be okay for you to show up. He just thought it would be easier for you to just talk to him on the phone if you were still upset with him."
"Why are you so okay with this?"
"Because, Bella, you're with me. The least I can do is support you when you have to say goodbye to the only family you have left."
I was so surprised how well this was all going. It felt like I was missing something, but may, we really were growing as a couple, and maybe, Edward really was just trying to be supportive. I didn't want to think about it too much, so I took it for what it was, Edward trying to be the man he thought he needed to be for me.
"Do we have anything else that we need to do here? The place looks great, Edward. I can't believe you guys got this done so fast."
"It was nothing; we really enjoyed it, actually. It was the first time that we've worked together like a family in so long, a little over eight years, to be precise." A small smile tugged at the sides of his mouth, and he looked heartbreakingly handsome.
"Eight years, huh? So tell me, did everyone feel this way?"
"Yeah, they all did. They're so happy, Bella. So happy that you're back with us, back where you belong."
"Can I use the Volvo? I promise I won't take too long."
"Of course. I'll ride with you to the treaty line and then I'll meet you back at the house."
"Okay, I just want one last look around."
I moved around the empty space, seeing my home for possibly the last time, at least for a really long time. I climbed the staircase, not really knowing whether or not I would be strong enough to look in our empty rooms. But that's what they really were, empty rooms. Charlie wasn't here anymore, and being here wasn't going to bring him back. Seeing his bed without the sheets or bedspread made my heart clench. I hadn't really spent much time going into his room after he died. It was too painful, and I just missed him so much.
I felt Edward wrap me up in his arms.
"Shhh, I know you miss him. It's going to be okay, Bella. I know this is all overwhelming, but I promise it will all be alright."
I hadn't even realized that I was crying, but the tears were starting to dampen my shirt. I hadn't allowed myself to really grieve for my father, partly because I was still grieving Edward and the other part was because I just didn't want to accept that he was gone.
We stood there for possibly another ten minutes, until I got myself together, and then slowly walked out of my little house, leaving one final time and not turning back.
I drove Edward's car and pulled over a few feet from the treaty line.
"I promise I won't be too long."
"Take all the time you need. I'll be waiting for you at home."
He exited the car and disappeared into the trees.
I pulled back onto the road and descended into La Push, wondering what would greet me when I finally pulled up to the Black's home.
Jacob stood in front of the house waiting for me when I pulled up.
"I didn't know if you were going to come," he said as I got out of the car.
"Of course I'd come, Jacob. You're part of my family. I had to say goodbye."
His face fell, but he moved closer to me and wrapped me in his huge embrace.
"I'm so sorry, Bella. I'm so sorry that I said so many awful things to you. I just wanted you to be happy and safe, that's all. That's all I ever wanted, Bella, you have to know that."
I could feel the tears on my face, and I wasn't sure whether they were his or mine. I was just happy that we were here, together, at least one more time.
"I could never hate you, ever. Don't you ever think that."
We reluctantly let go and Jacob led me towards the house. Billy looked up from his arm chair as we entered the house, and Haven was on the couch. The television wasn't on, so I could only assume they were waiting for us to come inside.
"Bella, it's so good to see you. How have you been?" Billy looked a little uncomfortable, and I could only imagine that it was due to my choice in life path.
"I've been good. You guys?"
"Everything's been good here."
It was awkward and quiet for a few minutes, but Haven broke the silence and we all fell into a somewhat comfortable conversation.
We talked for an hour before Jacob cleared his throat and addressed the elephant in the room.
"So you're really leaving? I mean, that's what Edward said this afternoon." Jacob seemed hesitant to broach this subject, but it was time.
"Yeah, that's the plan. I promise to keep in touch, though. I know how you guys feel about…"
"No, Bella, it's not the same anymore. We've all talked about it, a lot, and we just want you to be happy. We may not agree with the path you've decided to take, but after Charlie died, we didn't think we'd ever see you happy again. I can see the light back in your eyes. Jacob spoke with Edward today. He seemed to be very amicable, and Jacob found that surprising. Not that the Cullen's have ever been anything but civil with us, but, we do know that there was increased tension when you became associated with them. I was adamant that Jacob try and keep you from them. For that, Bella, I am not sorry."
Billy stopped and his face looked like he was deeply contemplating what he would say next.
"I saw what your life was like when the Cullen's left. I also saw what happened when Charlie died, and truthfully, I thought we might lose you. I have been worried about you for many years now. I made a promise to your father that I would do anything that I possibly could to help you if you needed it. I see now that the best thing that I could do for you would be to support your decision. You have to make us a promise, though. You have to promise that you will keep in touch with us, someway, somehow. We just want to know that you're okay. Even if you can't come back and see us, just let us know that you're happy and safe."
Billy had never really spoken so candidly with me before, and it was making my already emotional state hit a fever pitch.
"I can do that. I promise, no matter where I am, I will keep in contact. I love you all so much and you have been my only family now for some time, as long as you're okay with it, I'll contact you all the time." The tears were streaming down my face now, and looking at the three other people in the room, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.
"What about Renee?" Billy asked.
"She hasn't been a part of my life for a long time. I don't intend to let her know where I am. If she ever tried to contact you for information on me, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't tell her anything. I don't owe her a thing, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm not her daughter anymore. She hasn't shown any concern for me since well before Charlie died."
"We promise we won't tell her anything," Jacob stated bluntly. He was just as angry with my mother as I was. He saw what she did to me first hand and apparently wasn't about to let it go, either.
I was so thankful that I was there and able to say goodbye to the Black's. They would never know what kind of gift they had given me. It was the first time that I would be separated from someone who meant so much to me that I was able to give a proper goodbye to.
"Well, I should be getting along now. We still have a few things to do before we go, so…" I stood up, not really knowing what else I should say, or do for that matter. Haven stood up first and embraced me.
"You know, if something happens, you're always welcome here with us. I truly hope that you find the happiness you so deserve."
"Thank you, Haven. I really mean it. You're so good for this family. I wish you all the best."
I moved next to Billy. He always seemed too grand, even confined to a wheel chair. I loved him like a second father.
"You take care now, you here. Don't ever forget how much we love you… ever." He squeezed me tightly to him, the smell of his flannel reminding me of Charlie. I knew he would be happy for me, too. In a way, I felt like he still was watching over me.
Jacob slung his arm around my shoulders and walked with me out to the car.
"I'm going to miss you so much, you know that? I'm so sorry, Bella, for everything. I just wanted what I thought was best for you. I was too pissed to see that my way wasn't necessarily the best way for you. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive. I love you, Jacob Black. I always have loved you, you're family to me. I know what you were trying to do and I don't hold that against you. I won't."
We stood there hugging for a few minutes when Jacob reluctantly let me go.
"You take care now, and don't forget to call. I love you, Bella."
"I won't. I love you, too, Jake."
I got in the car and didn't turn back as I drove out of La Push, away from my old life and towards my new one. I was just anxious to get back to Edward.
The Cullen's' house seemed empty when I arrived; walking in the front door to an empty house.
"They all went hunting," Edward said from the top of the stairs.
"Hey, I thought you couldn't read my mind," I said with a smirk.
"I can't. I just figured that you would be wondering why the house seemed so empty. Come here."
Before I realized what was going on, Edward had me in his arms and we were in his bedroom. The overhead lights were dimmed and there were candles blazing everywhere. I could hear Claire de Lune playing softly in the background and was immediately taken back to one of the first times that I had ever been in Edward's room.
"What is all this?"
"Just a little something to celebrate the rest of our eternity together, I wanted to start off on the right foot. Everyone went hunting, but I know it was more so that we had our moment alone."
We swayed lightly back and forth to the music. I was still reeling from all that had happened in the last six months. I couldn't have been happier, though, with how it all turned out.
I couldn't help but think that I was the luckiest girl alive, and that was my last coherent thought as a human.
Before I knew what was going on, Edward had sunk his teeth deeply into my neck. I had never felt so connected in my whole life to anyone as I was to Edward in that moment. I expected to feel dilapidating pain, something similar to what I had felt when James had bit me, but instead I was just numb, I couldn't feel a thing except for the rapidly fluttering beat of my heart.
Everything around me was in a black haze. I could vaguely hear Edward's soothing voice, softly calling out to me, but it felt like I was in this massive void. I knew that this was supposed to be excruciating, but all I felt was euphoria. I was painfully happy. I wasn't sure of time or place. I had no idea whether I was out there floating for minutes, hours, or days. I was briefly aware that I should be feeling something, but was unable to muster even the slightest bit of anxiety. I smiled softly, or at least I thought I did. I only knew that whatever was happening wasn't half as bad as everyone made it seem, and even had it been, it all would have been worth it tenfold to spend eternity with Edward.
My bliss began to fade, soft light seeping into the distance, pale white morphing in to pale red, until it was a blazing inferno right before my eyes. My skin heated up and I felt like I was simmering from the inside out, definitely not unbearable, but uncomfortable none the less.
Suddenly, as if everything had just came back into focus, bright light seeped through my closed lids. I slowly opened my eyes and was instantly greeted with a soft golden pair of eyes that looked like I had never truly seen them. They were brighter, more vibrant, with flecks of charcoal in them. I had never been so happy to see them in all my life, and looking deeply into them, I knew I was home.
"How do you feel? Is everything alright?"
I knew I should try and put into words that last bit of memory I had, but I could only form the necessary words that I desperately needed to get out.
"Everything will always be alright, as long as you're here with me."
Thank you for reading :)