Fade to Grey- Epilogue
I'd never felt anything akin to this in all my life. The feeling was surreal- it was absolutely overwhelming, and I had no idea what to think.
The little creature wiggled in my arms as I held onto her gently, her little wrinkled face scrunched up as she let out a wail. Her pink cap fit snugly over her small head and her skin was softer than silk. Her mother was lying in her hospital bed, worn out from the long, arduous labour she'd undergone, and I was left standing with the crying creature, gently soothing her as best I could.
She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.
"Is your mom here yet?" asked the exhausted new mother in the bed, looking at me with her gentle blue eyes.
"Yeah." I admitted. "She's waiting."
"Go show them." she said cheerfully. "I'm sure they want to see…"
She smiled tiredly as I grinned in her direction, knowing full well that we had a full house in the waiting room. Mom and dad had come down as soon as I'd called to be of assistance when Jasper and Rosalie came with their swarm of kids.
Two months after the funeral, Alice and Jasper had gone away to Seattle to the University of Washington. Jasper had majored in history and had gotten a teaching licence, and Alice had gone in for an art and design program.
She ran her own interior design company.
After Alice had graduated with high honours, she and Jasper had moved in together and began to settle down. Jasper got a job at the high school in Forks and Alice opened her little design company over the internet to help with a steady income.
It came as no shock when Jasper asked Alice to marry him.
Her engagement had been a happy, cheerful affair, but the wedding had been bittersweet.
She and Bella used to dream of their wedding days as little kids, and it had hurt Alice to know that this was one of the things Bella had wanted to be around for. She'd wanted to see Alice get married, and Alice had made a valiant effort to keep her memory strong at the wedding.
Many of the photos at the reception of the bride and groom's childhood were of Bella and Alice together.
They'd gone to Paris on their honeymoon and we'd been informed three months later that the two were expecting a honeymoon baby.
Six months after we were told, Peter was born, a healthy, eight pound baby. He had Jasper's light curls and Alice's shining eyes, and much to his parents' dismay, he'd inherited his personality straight from his uncle Emmett.
The pair of them had a total of three kids: nine year old Peter Charles, seven year old Jamie Cullen and one year old Charlotte Isabella Hale. Jamie and Peter were great big brothers to their sister, even though they were holy terrors to each other. Jamie had inherited the messy Cullen family hair in Alice's dark brown shade, and little Charlie looked like a splitting image of her mother with the dark, straight hair and defined features.
Rosalie and Emmett, on the other hand, had taken a rather different route.
Emmett had managed to accumulate enough money for university the year after Alice had left, and he went on to take a physical education and health science course and like Jasper, he went for a teaching licence. He taught at the same school as Jasper as a gym teacher instead of history, and between Mr. Hale and Mr. Swan, the kids were shockingly well behaved.
Rosalie had earned her degree in mechanical engineering, but around the same time as Alice and Jasper's engagement, she'd discovered that she was pregnant.
Leave it to those two to make that mistake…
Emmett had been ecstatic over the whole thing, and when his little daughter- Emily Rosette- was born right before Alice and Jasper's wedding, she got to be the little flower girl.
It was cute, I had to admit.
They were married shortly after Alice's pregnancy announcement and had a nice honeymoon in Cancun together.
Rosalie opened her car shop and Emmett continued to teach, and shortly after Peter was born, they had another baby- a little boy named Jackson Carlisle.
Jack and Pete were the best of friends with only a few months in between their birthdays, and ten year old Emily had taken instantly to Alice's little Charlotte.
Emily looked a lot like her father but with the big brown eyes and the dark curls, she was the splitting image of her Auntie Bella, and I knew it still startled Emmett sometimes when he saw her from a certain angle. Jack had inherited the blonde hair like his mother and uncle, but he too had the dark brown eyes and playful features of his boisterous father.
With Jack and Pete together, there was often mischief…
Now, I was holding my own little baby in my arms, feeling the acute happiness that came along with fatherhood.
I was to care and love this little thing for the entirety of her existence- she would give me grief, she would get into trouble, she'd fail her math tests… she'd be mine.
"What do you want to name her?" I asked gently, glancing over at my tired wife.
"I don't know." She said honestly, shrugging. "I can't think of a good one…"
"She needs a name." I laughed, watching in avid amazement as her big, blue baby eyes fell shut and she smacked her little rosebud lips. I carried the baby over and sat down on the chair beside the bed, letting my wife take her little hand.
It was tiny.
"I know you're thinking of one." She accused gently with a smile on her lips.
She knew me too well.
"I was thinking…" I hesitated, making her frown.
"Thinking of…" she prompted impatiently, looking excited.
"What about Isabella?"
She stared at me in shock for a moment before she smiled and looked down at our new baby.
"Isabella." She said, trying it out.
"It fits." She said with a smile.
"Bella." I said gently, making my wife smile.
"I like it." She said decidedly. "Now go show her off!" she ordered happily, making the baby jump as her voice echoed.
"Sorry baby." She whispered with a gentle smile, kissing the chubby little cheek before I held her close and moved towards the door, grinning like a madman.
I could hear the din of the waiting room before I even got near it.
"Peter!" cried Emily indignantly, making me grin. "Stop that!"
"Make me, princess!"
"Em, come on over here…" said Emmett gently.
"Ha ha!" cried Jamie vindictively, right as I heard the familiar crying start up.
"Jamie, give that back to your sister." Scolded Alice patiently.
"Now." She said sternly, just as I appeared in the doorway with the little bundle, earning me a whole new uproar.
I was only glad that we were the only ones having a baby in Forks right now… we might have been kicked out otherwise.
"What is it? What is it?" asked Alice excitedly, standing up quickly. Even after three kids, she was as tiny as ever…
"A girl." I said fondly, earning me two squeals- one from Alice and one from Emily, who flew over.
"Oh, Uncle Edward, can I see?" she asked excitedly, bouncing under me.
"Sure, Emma." I said fondly, making her grin as I sat down and showed her the baby.
"Aw!" she cried happily. "What's her name?"
I smiled gently at Rosalie's little daughter, glancing up.
"Isabella." I said softly, making her smile. Alice beamed at me softly before she kissed my cheek and congratulated me.
"She's beautiful, Edward." Said mom softly, tears pooling in her eyes as she gently ran her finger down the baby's cheek. "She's perfect."
"Here." I offered, making mom smile as I handed little Bella up, letting her carry the bundle over to dad.
A horde of fascinated little feet followed behind her.
"Mommy, baby!" cried Charlotte excitedly, pointing enthusiastically at my little daughter as she trudged on her wobbly feet after my mother.
"Uncle Edward's baby." Said Alice happily, scooping her up quickly. "Your cousin."
"Cousin." Repeated Charlotte as Alice carried her over and allowed her to lay her soft little hand on the baby's cheek.
"Baby…" she repeated. Jasper smiled as Jamie rushed over to him as well, wanting a boost like his sister.
"Be gentle." Warned Jasper sternly.
"I know." Said Jamie proudly, glancing at his father with large, happy eyes.
"She's cute." Said Jasper with a smile, turning towards me.
Alice reached out for her, and I grinned as she snatched her away and brought her back over to me.
"How's mommy doing?" asked Alice sympathetically, grimacing.
"Great." I said honestly. "She's tired though…"
"I don't doubt it." She said gently, returning my daughter to me with a gentle sigh
"Bella would be proud." She whispered in my ear as she kissed my cheek again, patting the baby's head softly.
And just like that, as fast as my Bella had gone away, this Bella had come in her stead- the little baby standing in the memory of the young woman.
Watching the new generation in the waiting room made me realize that for every tragedy, there was always a bit of happiness that came afterwards, no matter how bitter the sting of sadness, and no matter how sweet the taste of joy.
As I gazed down softly into the sleepy little face in my arms I felt a familiar swell of love and pride, and I couldn't ask for anything more.