OK sweeties, this is it. Big long rambling author's note at the end with all my gushing and important stuff about what to expect next.
As always, Stephanie Meyer owns these guys. I just borrow them and make them old.
antiaol and bmango make my words pretty and talk me down when I'm thinking about jumping.
In the Twilight of My Life, Chapter 21:
For as long as there have been men and women, there have been wedding nights. Throughout history, there have been discoveries of secret skin and impassioned expressions of desire, blinding moments of affection and deep whispers of love and need.
Edward's and mine wasn't the first honeymoon, and for all that it may have been unconventional, it wasn't even the first of its kind.
But hovering there together at the threshold to our room at the inn in Port Angeles, both of us staring at the other like there was no one else in the world and feeling like virgins at seventy-plus years old, it certainly felt to us like it might have been.
In all our months of awkward fumbling and our brushes of tired, bared skin, we had come to know each other in almost all the ways a man could know a woman.
But never this way.
Between the ache in his healing knee and the weakness in all my limbs, the final step had always loomed on some far-off horizon, always something for tomorrow. Or maybe for the day after.
And then the date of the wedding had loomed large. And for all that we were doing so many things backwards, it seemed right for some reason to do this one small thing in the order it was meant to be done.
Together, we moved past the threshold and into the room where we would come to know each other in one final way.
And again we found reasons to delay.
Well into the night, we did all the things one does before going to bed, unpacking and laying out clothes, talking and sharing observations about an extraordinary day. We recounted every moment. Every touch. Every word.
And then we were left with only each other. And it was enough.
The first time Edward and I made love, we approached it the same way we had every other intimate encounter – slowly, and with intent and purpose and whispered words of love and affirmation. As he did every time he found my naked skin, he breathed into my ear the kinds of words about my beauty that made me want to believe them, his hands making long paths along my body and his lips so soft and warm.
When I touched him, it was with a similar level of tenderness and care.
And passion. There was passion, too.
Nothing about making love at our age was as easy as it had been in my younger years. There were creaking joints and other considerations of age, and even when we finally found each other, naked and ready and so close I could feel him breathe, it was not without effort that we crossed the final inches to bring ourselves together in that ultimate and most intimate of ways.
But when we were joined, it was with a feeling of union and oneness that took my breath away, his face so beautiful above mine and my body moving in ways I didn't know it still knew how to. And yet again I found my eyes brimming over with tears. Perfect, happy tears of closeness and of a love so soft and all-consuming, and a deep knowledge that I had everything I had ever been looking for.
And that I held it all in my trembling hands.
It was still mostly dark outside when I awoke, the very palest tinges of lightness beginning to creep around the edges of the clouds.
I stretched out on the cool sheets, feeling more present in my own body than I had in ages, before shifting and turning, seeking out the warmth that I had come to expect in hushed and early mornings like this one.
But it wasn't there.
Coming into a fuller sense of awareness, I shifted again and pulled myself to sitting, my eye catching on the extra glint of gold on my hand, and a sleepy smile stealing over my face.
And then I saw him.
And my smile grew even wider.
Standing out on the little balcony just outside our room, my Edward stood in almost perfect stillness, his hair in disarray and his whole being possessed by a calm I had rarely seen in him in all the months I had been in love with him. For a moment, all I could do was watch him, his face in profile as he gazed out over an expanse of green and rose and the breaking midnight blue of the early morning sky, twists of smoke moving lazily around his head.
And even from here I could see that he was smiling.
Pulling my own robe over my bare shoulders and tying it around my waist, I pushed myself out of the bed and into my chair with a quiet grunt. With stiff hands, I slipped a single cigarette from the pack on my bedside table before wheeling myself forward.
The sliding door opened easily beneath my fingertips, letting a cool breath of air wash over my skin and rustling the fabric of my robe as I rolled out onto the balcony, pushing it closed behind me and moving silently to my husband's side.
He didn't turn or move, though I knew he heard me coming, a certain slyness appearing in his smile as his hand reached out with his lighter, his wide green eyes dipping down to connect with mine. I breathed deeply as he flicked his thumb to hold that little glowing ball of flame out for me, letting the smoke fill my lungs that already felt so full.
He returned the lighter to the pocket of his robe before setting his hand down on the railing, shifting just slightly so that I could rest my head against his side.
"It's beautiful," I said quietly, watching soft pinks and a certain golden glow begin to steal over the hills and trees before us, the sky lightening before our eyes.
"It's alright," he agreed, the sides of his mouth twitching as he looked me up and down. "Though I've seen better."
I blushed and let my eyes drift away from his face to peer back out over the horizon, feeling the peace of the moment and the contentment of having him beside me.
"You weren't there when I woke up," I said softly.
He hummed and shrugged, puffing gently at his cigarette before speaking.
"I couldn't sleep."
I stared at him impassively, my fingertips shaking only slightly around my cigarette as I asked quietly, "Something bothering you?"
He turned to face me then, his hand moving down to brush a stray lock of hair away from my eyes before tucking it tenderly behind my ear.
"No," he whispered. "Nothing at all."
At that, his gaze moved back to the sky and to the woods, his mouth closing around the cigarette in his hand and then exhaling slowly.
"If anything, I'm just excited," he said, and there was a certain growing brightness to his voice as he spoke. "It feels like the first day of forever to me."
His eyes drifted over to me again then as his lips curled upward, smiling as he whispered, "And I can't wait to spend every day of it with you."
I wrapped my hand around his, my whole being filled with the happiness of this of all moments, kissing the rough knuckles that I loved before resting my head again against his side.
Staring off into a golden horizon, my husband at my side, I couldn't help but think of all the twilights we had spent just like this, sharing air and smoke and our lives.
And when I smiled, it was with my face bathed in the perfect glow of our first sunrise.
A/N: *Sniffle* Well, that's it dears, but a few quick things before we go...
1) So, this story has changed a lot in the process of writing it, and this is not how I originally envisioned ending it. However, sometime around the time Oldward invited Bella to share his bed and she said yes, I fell hopelessly in love with them, and realized they were both such lovely, sad people, and that they deserved a hopeful ending.
I'm happy with the choices I made, but I also still have the nagging feeling that this story isn't quite done.
And, um, I'm the writer, so that means it doesn't have to be.
So YES, there will be a SEQUEL. It will be short, and it will be sad, and it will have a wussperv rating of approximately -25%. (That's very, very low.) If that's not your bag, then please give these two old lovebirds a hug and a kiss on the cheek and say goodbye to them now, resting in the knowledge that they got their HEA. If it is, then I look forward to exploring the rest of their ending with you, probably sometime late this summer.
In the meantime, there will also be OUTTAKES and ALT POVs (yes, including some from ODBward). Look for them to post in a separate story, maybe starting as early as next week.
2) This story would not be what it is at all had it not been for two very special ladies.
First, antiaol, who has held my hand and fixed my commas and adverbs and who was willing to read this ridiculous idea I had for a story earlier this spring in spite of all of her misgivings. She's the one I gchatted sobbing the minute I realized I couldn't bring myself to write the ending I'd originally imagined. And every other time I needed someone to talk me off the edge of this cliff I've been standing on.
Second, bmango, who was the very first person to see any of this craziness, back before I even knew what it was going to become. She gave me honesty and encouragement and let me bounce ideas around endlessly. I honestly don't know if any of this would have seen the light of day if it hadn't been for her. And I'm pretty sure I would have actually gone insane without her friendship over the past few months.
3) This story would also not exist were it not for YOU. Thank you so much for reading and giving this idea a shot, many of you in spite of your misgivings. You are beautiful, loving, generous people, and I adore all of you.
Until next time ...