-This is the final chapter! Thank you guys so much for sticking with me throughout it, and for all the great reviews!
The following weeks proved difficult as things began to fall into place for the family. Esme had decided not to return to Forks, which was probably for the best. Bella had loved her as we all had, but I'm not sure how the two of them would have gotten along considering all that had changed. Rose and Emmett returned only days after our time in Italy and were heartbroken by the new of Edward's death. While Emmett harbored no ill will towards Bella and I, I knew Rose would be a very different story. She understood the reasoning for my actions, but anger was a large part of her coping process, it always had been. Surprisingly, as angry as she had been over the incident it didn't effect her feelings over mine and Bella's relationship. Thank God for small favors.
Jasper was probably the only person who had a clear view of that day's events, and he'd confirmed my fears. Someone amongst the Volturi had a similar gift to his, and had used it to amplify Edward's rage. Although he'd done his best, whoever it had been overpowered him... or Edward's rage from the beginning had been too much to subside in combination with the encouragement.
Bella blamed herself, naturally, though she knew it wasn't truly her fault. Everything she had said that day was the truth, and I'm sure that even Edward had known that. It would explain his original demeanor. He'd known better than to play on her emotions and disregard them, but it was a sad sight to see him realize the cost of his mistakes too late.
I received a letter from Aro shortly before Bella's graduation informing us that our 'mess' had been taken care of. I can only assume that someone had seen Edward for a brief moment, and they were silenced. They had burned Edward's body shortly after we left the building, and I was chastised for not doing it myself. Right, of coarse. God forbid they pick up their toys themselves after playing with them. It was bad enough that they had pitted him against me and forced my hand, but they were just plain being rude now. I sighed to myself as I set the letter aside and looked up from my desk, hearing a knocking.
Bella stepped through the doorway, "You wanted me to come remind you when it was eight o'clock."
"Ah yes," I nodded, a small smile playing on my face as I rose from my seat. "This day and time marks a very special moment."
I stepped forward and she shook her head, "I'm so sorry, I feel so stupid." Placing a hand to her face in contemplation, she continued, "I have no idea what its supposed to be."
I laughed softly, wrapping my arms around her waist, "You don't know yet."
She looked up at me, "Huh?" I loved it when her face was scrunched up in confusion, it made her even more adorable.
Looking passed her and out of the door and stifled another laugh, "I have to thank Alice for not letting the cat out of the bag."
"You're welcome!" Alice called from the living room, "Now do it before I do!"
Bella looked over her shoulder towards the door, obviously lost, "What's—"
"Bella Swan," I turned her back to face me, pressing my forehead to hers. "Yours is a rare beauty and grace that I have never before seen in another woman. I have lived hundreds of years and never before you known such self-sacrifice, such loyalty and love." Kissing her softly, I finished, "I love you."
"I love you, too." She still sounded so confused, as if we were playing a trick on her. I suppose I was.
Sighing softly, I smoothed a loose strand of hair from her eyes, "Then I will only ask this once." Kneeling down, I reached into my back pocket and grabbed a small velvet-covered box. I heard her breath catch and my smile widened as I opened the box and held it up in offering to her, "Will you marry me?"
She looked as though she was going to faint and she wasn't breathing, which would only make it worse. After a pause, I watched tears brim her beautiful eyes, "Yes!"
Alice, Jasper, Rose and Emmett were at the door before I could even stand to embrace her, applauding. I scooped her into my arms and smiled as tears of happiness streamed down her face. Kissing each tear away, I finally claimed her lips, smiling through the kiss. Alice stepped forward, and I didn't need to be able to see the future to know what she would say.
"I have the catalogs ready. Time for the best shopping spree -ever-!" Bella turned, her eyebrows raised as if pleading for help.
I held up my hands in mock defense, "Can't avoid this, weddings are all about shopping." Looking passed them, I even saw a small smile on Rose's face and breathed a sigh of relief.
Alice took Bella's arm and led her away from me, going on about who the entire wedding should be centered around the dress. God help her, I laughed to myself. The others followed them out, leaving me with my thoughts and Bella with a near-panic attack. Leaning back against my desk, I looked down and reflected for a moment on how this would all play out in the long run.
Aro had taken a strange interest in Bella, it seemed, but hopefully the next time they met she would be changed and in much less danger. I would turn her after graduation to give her time to adjust before the wedding, which would come in the winter. I laughed to myself, realizing that was about the only thing I got to decide on.
As I stood and walked downstairs I saw Bella, Rose and Alice pouring over stacks of catalogs and couldn't help but shake my head. It was going to be a very eventful year. Bella looked up at me, her tired-of-shopping expression turning into a bright smile as I relaxed into the couch.
"Hey you." She beamed, and in that moment those two words were the most beautiful that I'd ever heard.