Disclaimer: I do not now, nor have I ever, nor will I ever, own Twilight or its amazing characters. That honour is forever held by Stephanie Meyer.
A/N: Well, this is it. The end of my first ever attempt at writing a story. I apologise for the long wait. Between my beta and I, we have had real life kick us in the ass, birthdays, vacations and tattoos getting in the way! I really hope you all enjoyed this story as much as I did. The sheer number of people who added me to alerts, fave's etc was incredible, I didn't expect it at all. That is totally amazing to me and to everyone who left reviews, I thank you all. You gave me the motivation and encouragement to continue, even when I kept thinking how much better everyone else's stories are and was tempted to give up.
Finally, I must give a shout out to Ebony-Rosez, my beta. Without her this fic would never have got to 16 chapters and it would be a grammatical horror show. Her kind words and encouragement mean the world to me and because of her (and all my reviewers) you can expect more stories from me.
To the fans of Fire & Ice, I have a sequel planned. I am in the process of getting it mapped out and then I will start writing it. I won't give a time line though as I am the world's worst person for putting pressure on myself and if I can't stick to it I will feel awful. It will be this year though, I promise.
Well, enough from me. I now present to you, Fire & Ice, the final chapter…
Alice was driving Bella to the Forks Cemetery. It was completely silent in the car, but it was a comfortable silence. Alice was driving at a human speed, which was unbearably slow for her. She knew Bella was in no rush for what she was about to do so she took her time. Alice looked down and watched as Bella unconsciously sought out her hand that had been resting on her thigh. Even lost in thought, Bella always naturally gravitated towards Alice. Alice took her hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. She was very aware that Bella needed to have this visit; she wouldn't be able to heal properly without it, but it was hard. Alice wanted so much to protect Bella from the world; it was her natural instinct after everything the human had been through recently. However, this was something she needed to do on her own.
Alice pulled into the cemetery and parked the car. It was an overcast day in Forks, but the sun kept poking sporadically through the clouds. She couldn't risk going with Bella and she didn't like it. She growled softly, "Bella, I can't come with you, the sun keeps coming out and there are too many people around right now. Are you going to be okay?" Bella just stared out of the car window, taking in deep breaths. "Bella? Sweetie, you don't have to do this if you're not ready. Do you want to go home?"
Bella finally turned to Alice, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. "No. I um… I need to do this. It's been five weeks since he was buried; I should have done this a lot sooner. Um, where is he?"
"Follow the path around the corner; he's on top of the hill. I'm sorry I can't take you. I'll be right here waiting okay?"
"Yeah. I'll be alright. Thank you." Bella leant over and gave Alice a light peck on her cold cheek. "I love you." She grabbed her crutches and exited the car. Alice's heart broke a little more as she watched her girlfriend walk slowly up the path. But she was also incredibly proud of her. Bella had been through so much recently. She had struggled badly with her back injury and almost lost herself to depression, but she was slowly battling back. She would be her old self again soon; Alice had seen it after Bella's breakdown earlier that day. What she hadn't told the girl, what she couldn't tell her, was that in the vision her injury had not really improved very much. It now looked like it was going to take turning her into a vampire for her to truly recover. She had to kill Bella to fix her. 'How ironic.' Alice thought wryly. Alice never took her eyes off Bella, watching as she disappeared around the corner. 'She's on her own now.' Alice prayed to whatever god listened to vampires that this visit to Charlie would help her.
Bella huffed as she slowly made her way along the winding path leading to the hill which had become her Dad's final resting place. She regretted missing his funeral, but she had been told what a lovely service it had been, and how many people had gathered to pay their respects. She was shocked when Esme told her that the Quileute's had shown up. Charlie had been full of stories about them, about how they rarely left the reservation, and how there was something strange about them. Bella laughed to herself, 'What could possibly be strange about them? After vampires nothing would surprise me.'
Bella finally reached her destination at the top of the hill and she found Charlie's headstone. There were so many flowers and wreaths strewn across the fresh grave, even after five weeks. Bella took a few minutes to read the cards, taking in the love the residents of Forks had shown for her Dad, their Police Chief. She was exhausted; the walk had really sapped her of her energy. Luckily for her there was a small stone bench right opposite the grave so she could at least sit down. She sat for a few minutes, just staring at the headstone. She could feel the tears threatening to fall and blinked them back furiously. It didn't work. Just when Bella thought she couldn't possibly cry any more, the tears fell.
"Oh Dad, I miss you so much," she sobbed. She wrapped her arms around herself protectively, rocking slowly back and forth. The sun appeared from behind the clouds, shining directly on to the headstone, like a spotlight, before disappearing behind the clouds again. Bella wiped her eyes; she could have sworn she had seen someone moving behind the tree Charlie was buried under, but there was no-one there. 'What do I do now? Do I just talk to him like he's here? Why not, better than sitting in silence.'
"Hey Dad, umm, this is a little weird. I'm sorry I haven't come earlier. I've not exactly been myself and I've kinda been a nightmare to live with lately. But I think I am getting better, finally. Would you believe all it took was a can of Coke to make me break down? Typical of me right?" Bella looked down at her hands. "I've been so horrible to Alice, to everyone. I knew I was being a bitch but I couldn't stop, I couldn't help it. Anyone else would have dumped my ass by now, but not her. She has been wonderful. If you'd seen her you would have been proud of the way she's taken care of me. She never put up with all my crap, just like you wouldn't have." Bella paused and sighed. "Dad, I wish you were still here. There was so much I needed to tell you."
"So tell me now."
"Aggh!" Bella jumped off the bench in fright at the sudden voice behind her and landed squarely on her backside. "Oof." She looked up and stared. She couldn't believe her eyes. Standing right in front of her was…
"Bella, will you please try and be careful. I don't want you hurting yourself any more."
"What the fuck?" Bella squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. "I'm not seeing this. I've cracked up. I've gone round the bend. I'm insane. Carlisle has given me wacky meds." She opened one eye and peeked up, Charlie was still there. 'Shit.'
Charlie chuckled. "Alice was right; you do have a flair for the dramatics. Please Bella, get up and sit down. I'm really here, sort of. You're not insane. Or high." Bella kept a wary eye on Charlie as she slowly got up and sat back on the bench. Charlie sat down next to her, smiling fondly at his daughter. "You look slightly better Bells. You're far too thin for my liking though. I've been keeping an eye on you; I was very worried for a while there." Charlie watched as Bella raised her hand with a finger outstretched, trying to poke him. She gasped as her hand went right through him. "Bella what are you doing?"
"You're not real." She whispered. "How can this be happening? Ghosts aren't real."
"And why the hell not? You live with vampires now kiddo. There are a lot of things in this world you've yet to discover. How is a ghost any less real than a vampire?"
Bella paled. "You know… about the Cullens?"
"I'm dead Bella, I know everything now." Charlie grinned. The smile faded as Bella started to cry again. "Hey, come on. Don't cry. Look, I'm right here. I'm not really gone."
"I'm sorry. I just miss you Dad. I… did it hurt? The crash? When you… died?"
"No sweetheart, it didn't. I went straight away, I didn't feel a thing. I promise."
Bella breathed a sigh of relief, "Well I suppose that's good. Not dying, that's not good but the no pain thing is good and… God, I'm a babbling idiot. Wait a second, you know everything? What mom did? Even what I am going to do?"
"Everything. If I were still alive I would probably be less than thrilled about you becoming a vampire, assuming I ever would have found out. But being dead kind of changes your perspective on things. And I can't be angry at your mother. She did the best thing for you, even if her motives were a little skewed."
"So you… give me your blessing?"
"I actually do. Knowing what I know now, you have nothing to worry about sweetheart. How are you finding your new family?"
"I love them, Dad. I've been a bitch and they still love me."
"Of course they do, what's not to love? So, you're becoming a vampire pretty soon. It's gonna hurt sweetheart. Are you nervous?"
"A little," Bella admitted. "I really want Alice to do it; she's been working so hard with Carlisle. I trust her completely, but something she said about Edward has been bothering me. You know everything now, so you know what he believes? That they have no soul?"
Charlie nodded. "I do. That's one of the things I wanted to tell you today. Bella, vampires still have their souls."
Bella gasped. "Really? Truly?"
"Yes. They are no different to humans in that regard. It all depends on how they live their lives. Victoria had no soul, she was evil. Nevertheless, the Cullen's are good people. Even the one's who have killed humans. They've spent their existence redeeming themselves, or trying to. You can tell Edward that he still has his soul, they all do, and unless they screw up royally, they are not condemned to hell."
"Oh my god, he is going to be so happy about that. They all are. I never really believed they were soulless, it was impossible. They're too good for that to be true."
"You really are one of-a-kind Bells." Charlie joked.
"So, what do you do when you're not scaring your only offspring in a cemetery? Oh my god, you don't… watch… do you?" Bella turned bright red.
"What do think I am - a voyeur? No, I don't watch. That's something I really have no desire to see… ever! I know everything there is to know about the world and the species that live in it. I can come to you as and when you need me, but the rest of the time I am... in heaven I guess."
"How do you know when I need you?" Bella whispered.
"I just know. I will never be far away from you sweetheart." Charlie looked over Bella's shoulder. "Alice is on her way, I'd better go."
"NO! Please don't go; I want her to see you."
"She can't see me, Bella. I can only appear to you right now. She will believe you when you tell her though."
"No, she won't. She'll think exactly what I thought, that I've gone insane. Even if she does believe me, the others probably won't."
Charlie sighed and looked deep in thought, like he was deciding if he should say something. "Bella, trust your girlfriend. And as for the others, I can tell you something that will help them believe you." Charlie leaned forwards to his daughter and whispered in her ear. Bella paled and her eyes filled with tears again. She tried to say something but couldn't. "Bella, it'll be okay. You would have been told eventually."
"Really? I just can't believe it. How could…"
"I'm sorry; I really have to go Bells. Look, I don't want to leave things like this. Trust me when I tell you that everything will work out. And by the way, that question you've been mulling over? Go for it sweetie." Charlie smiled.
Bella stared at her father in shock; she was taking in a lot of information very quickly. "How did yo…? Never mind, you know everything. It's kind of unnerving you know."
Charlie laughed. "I know. It's unnerving for me too. But trust me, it'll all work out. Goodbye sweetie." And in the blink of an eye Charlie disappeared, leaving Bella staring at nothing. She jumped as she felt a cool hand touch her shoulder; she had forgotten Alice was on her way. "Alice! Don't sneak up on a human in a cemetery. That's how we get killed in bad horror movies you know?"
"I'm sorry; I thought you heard me coming. Bella, are you alright? I heard you scream a while ago but couldn't get up here until everyone left the cemetery. I was going crazy waiting in the car."
Bella looked at her girlfriend. She had covered herself up completely, not an inch of skin was showing in case the sun poked through again and someone else turned up to see a sparkly person in a graveyard. She realised she hadn't answered Alice's question but her brain was not quite functioning properly yet.
"Bella? You look like you've seen a ghost. What's wrong? Did something happen?"
"Ha ha!" Bella laughed slightly hysterically, prompting Alice to get very worried about the girl. "A ghost, funny you should say that."
"Why is it funny?"
"Um, did you not get any visions of me up here while you were in the car?"
"I did, but it didn't really make much sense. I tried not to look; I wanted to give you your privacy but… Bella you seemed to be talking to thin air. Talking to the headstone I could understand but you were talking to… nothing."
"Not quite nothing. Alice, you may not believe this but… I saw Charlie."
"Of course you did, that's why you came here."
"No, I mean I really saw him. He appeared to me as a ghost. I spoke to him."
Alice stared at her girlfriend, a concerned look on her face, "Did Carlisle mess up your meds? You've had a rough day Bella, maybe…"
"No! That's what I thought at first but he was really here. He knew everything that had happened, everything I am about to do. He even knew wh…"
"Nothing, I'm still thinking about that. Alice, can you please get me home, quickly. He told me something that everyone needs to hear. Please believe me; I am not making this up. He was here Al. He was the 'thin air' you saw in your vision."
Alice stared at Bella. She heard the girl's heartbeat, it was a little elevated but steady. 'She's telling the truth.' "He was really here?" Bella just nodded her eyes full of tears again. "Okay, let's get home." Alice looked around the cemetery, it was still empty. She scooped Bella up in her arms and within a second they were in the car, speeding back to the house.
A few minutes later Bella was back in the Cullen lounge, with seven vampires all staring at her waiting to hear what had her so anxious to tell them. Bella took in their faces. Esme had a motherly look on her face, Carlisle and the boys looked curious and Rosalie just looked suspicious. Bella gulped. 'Oh god, they're going to think I'm crazy.' She felt Alice squeeze her hand which gave her the courage to start speaking.
"Before I start can I please, please ask that you let me finish without interruptions? You're all going to think I am insane; I swear to god this is the truth." Bella watched as they all nodded in agreement. "Okay. When I was at the cemetery earlier, Charlie appeared to me. He was a ghost." Bella watched as this news sank in. No-one said anything so she took that as a sign to continue. "He um… said that he was now in heaven and that he knew everything about the world and the species that live in it. He knows you are all vampires. He knows I am going to become one and gave me his blessing. He said something else but unless you believe me it won't mean anything."
There was silence in the room as the vampires took in what Bella had told them. Jasper spoke first. "Bella is calm and rational. She believes what she is saying and there is no deception on her part. Bella, I believe you." He nodded towards the girl.
"Thanks Jasper. Anyone else?"
Carlisle was next. "I have no reason to doubt you Bella. If you say you spoke to Charlie, then I believe you."
"Me too," Esme, Emmett and Edward said. Only Rosalie had not said anything yet.
"Rose?" Bella was a little scared, she never knew what Rosalie was thinking.
"I believe that you believe you saw your dead father. You've had a rough time recently, maybe this was your human brains way of coping."
"No Rose, I really saw him. And… if you can't believe me he told me something that would make you believe. But I don't… I really don't feel comfortable saying it out loud."
Everyone was staring at Bella, wondering what she had been told. They were also looking warily at Rosalie. She had come a long way with Bella but she was still the same, sceptical, untrusting vampire with anything or anyone else.
Rosalie looked around the room at her family. "Oh please, don't tell me you all really believe this crap? Carlisle, come on. You're a doctor! You must know this is most likely a stress related delusion. Bella has been very dep…"
"ROSE!" Bella yelled, shocking the blonde vampire into silence. "Please don't speak like I am not in the room. I can prove I saw Charlie."
"Go on then, prove it." Rosalie challenged.
"He told me…," Bella gulped nervously. "He told me what happened to you before you were turned. I know. I know you were… raped."
Bella's voice was barely audible on the last word but the vampires had no problem hearing her. Everyone gasped. They knew Rosalie had not yet told Bella her story. She rarely told anyone. This was proof of Charlie's so-called existence. There was no way Bella could have known otherwise. Emmett rubbed his wife's shoulders reassuringly, whispering silently in her ear. Rosalie for her part was frozen, staring at Bella. "You know?" She whispered.
Bella just nodded her head, her eyes filling with tears again. She would never have believed it was possible for someone to cry so much in a single day. "I'm so sorry that happened to you Rose. I didn't want to say anything; I was hoping you would believe me without me having to say it." Bella felt Alice rubbing her arm and was grateful for the support.
Rosalie just sighed and sat down next to Bella. "This is totally crazy. Just a few months ago our lives were normal. And then you showed up and turned everything upside down. Until you came into our lives, I would never have believed I could love a human, or that a human would love us back. I certainly wouldn't have believed that a human would affect our family like you have, especially one prone to life-threatening situations almost 24/7. I suppose… I suppose that if vampires can exist, if a human can fall in love with one, who are we to deny the existence of ghosts?"
Bella threw her arms around Rose, hugging her as tightly as she could. "Thank you Rose."
Rosalie whispered back. "You're welcome. And we'll talk okay? I'll tell you the whole story. You're family now, you deserve to know."
"Thank you." Bella turned to the family. "Thank god you believe me," Bella took a deep breath. "Charlie told me something that should make things a lot easier for all of you. Edward, I know what you believe, that vampires have no souls. According to Charlie… you do." Bella recoiled slightly as all seven vampires gasped in shock.
"What?" Edward whispered as he sank into the couch.
"You still have your souls. That's part of the reason he gave me his blessing to become like you. You are NOT monsters. It's like with humans, if you are good you are not damned."
Jasper looked confused, "But I've killed people. How can you say that?"
Bella shot a sympathetic look at the blonde vampire, "Jasper, you have spent your entire existence trying to redeem yourself, to live a better life. You all have. It's because of that you still have your souls, you retain your humanity. As Charlie said, unless you screw up royally, you are not condemned to hell."
Bella watched as Carlisle approached her and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, "Bella, you have no idea what you have just done for this family. This changes everything. I will have to get this news out somehow, although I don't think many vampires will care for this. Or believe it seeing as the only proof we have is a ghost. But as far as this family is concerned, I cannot thank you enough."
"It's not me," Bella mumbled, leaning forward slightly, trying to stretch her back as it was aching. "You can thank Charlie. Well I can, if I see him again."
"I'm sure you will sweetie," Alice rubbed Bella's back, prompting the girl to moan softly with relief. "You said he would appear if you needed him. With everything that's coming up, I'm sure he will be around."
"I hope so. I thought I had lost him for good but… I still have him, sort of. I have you guys. I am so lucky." Bella whispered. She heard Charlie's voice in her head, 'And by the way, that question you've been mulling over? Go for it sweetie.' Bella gazed at Alice and her heart skipped a beat. 'I am hopelessly in love with this girl. Shall I do it? Go for it!'
Alice had been watching Bella with a puzzled expression 'Her thoughts seem so jumbled, I can't get anything from her in a vision. What is she up to?' "Bella, are you alright?"
"I am perfect. Thank you for today, Alice. It wasn't quite what I was expecting but it has certainly helped, with a lot of things." Bella looked at everyone, they had been speaking amongst themselves, trying to take in the life-changing news Bella had just dropped on them all. "Hey, everyone, umm, there's something I want to do and I'd like you all to be here for it." Bella turned to Alice, "Alice. You have made me the happiest girl in the world. I never want to be without you, I simply can't. Before I become a vampire, before I join your family, I want to make things official." Bella took Alice's cold hands and held them tightly in her own. "Okay, I know there is a proper, traditional way of doing this but if I get down on my knee I may never get up again." Bella laughed as the others chuckled. 'Here goes.'
"Alice Cullen. Will you marry me?"