So here it is, the final chapter. It's a short look into everyone's mind during the airport scene.
It was over. All over. Bella and Edward were safe. Their future together was restored, of that, I, of all people, could be certain. Bella would be one of us before too long, a true Cullen, an equal at Edward's side for all eternity. My family - the family I had searched for and coveted for thirty years - would finally be complete.
But, best of all, I would see Jasper in an hour. I would run up to him, throw my arms around him, and kiss him, not caring about any on-lookers.
Actually, instead of the PDA display, perhaps I should simply walk up to him and hug him, affectionately, but not too much. And I'd be able to in just half an hour.
The plane was descending. We would land in three minutes, and I would see Jasper in fifteen minutes. Actually there'll be no need for a hug, or a kiss, or anything. I will simply look him in the eyes, and show him I still love him. Show him that, despite the fact that I had to lie to him, despite risking my life for Edward, I still loved him more than anything.
We had landed, and they would be opening the plane doors in thirty seconds. And I will see Jasper in ten minutes.
I walked alongside Bella and Edward; Edward was holding a nearly collapsed Bella up. She would be able to stay awake until we got into the car, where she would finally succumb to sleep.
I will see Jasper in eight minutes.
God, why does passport control take so long? We'd be through after another minute, and another minute after that I would see Jasper.
All three of us walked into the arrivals section. I briefly noticed Carlisle and Esme stood in the shadows near the metal detectors. But I didn't pay them much attention.
I could see Jasper. I walked towards him and looked him in the eyes, trying to tell him without words that I still loved him. Looking into his eyes, I saw the same message reflected back at me. One look in his eyes and I knew, despite everything I'd put him through in the last few days, he still loved me, like he always had.
Staring into those golden eyes, I knew everything would be OK. Jasper loved me. Bella and Edward loved each other. I can always trust my future.
I hardly noticed Bella and Edward. I was too entranced with the little pixie at their side. Alice. Alive and unharmed and here.
She walked up to me, and looked me in the eyes. Her eyes told me all I needed to know. She loved me. She would always love me. It was OK. Everything was going to be OK. She was here.
I have no idea how long we stood there, just staring into each other eyes. It could have been mere minutes, or hours and days. I didn't know, and nor did I care.
Eventually I decided I had to say something. But what to say? Millions of possibility floated through my head, but how could I put everything I'd felt in the last few days into mere words?
Suddenly a memory from fifty years ago filled my mind. The memory of the day that changed my life. I knew exactly what to say.
"You've kept me waiting a long time." Alice smiled at me then, and I knew she understood everything I was trying to say to her. That I loved her and always would. Had done since that day in a Philadelphian diner fifty years ago.
"Sorry, sir," Alice's reply echoed my own words. Just like that day fifty years ago, I took her hand and everything felt right with the world.
If it wouldn't have earned us unwanted attention, I think I would have been jumping up and down with joy. Bella and Edward stood in front of me. They really were here - alive and together. I still found it hard to believe.
Before I could think better of it, I pulled Bella into a fierce hug, it was slightly awkward though, as Edward still hadn't removed his arm from around her. I didn't care though; in fact it made me ecstatic. After all they've been through, they have to be back together now, right?
"Thank you so much," I whispered in Bella's ear. The words weren't enough, but they would have to do. She had been willing to risk her life to bring my son back alive; I could never truly show her the depth of my gratitude.
Letting go of Bella, I turned to my son. I hadn't seen him since last September; a part of me still couldn't really believe he was really here.
I threw my arms around him, as if to confirm that he was real. If it were possible I would have been crying tears of happiness, as it was, all I did was dry sob.
"You will never put me through that again." I surprised even myself with how fiercely the words came out. It was nearly a growl.
I mean it, Edward. You ever do that again, I will follow you, no matter where you go, literally drag you home, and then never let you out of my sight again for the rest of eternity.
Edward grinned at my thoughts.
"Sorry, Mom," he said repentantly. I instantly melted at the use of the term of endearment. I couldn't stay cross at him, especially not when he called me 'Mom'. He was my son, and he was here, and safe, and that was all that mattered.
"Thank you, Bella. We owe you," I heard Carlisle say to her. Talk about an understatement.
Bella mumbled something in reply that sounded like 'hardly'. Maybe one day she would understand just how important what she had done was. Not just today, but everything. She had brought my son to life and I could never repay her enough for that.
Looking at Bella, I realised how exhausted she looked.
Why hadn't she slept on the plane? I looked at my son accusingly. Edward, she needs sleep, why didn't you make her sleep on the plane?
"She's dead on her feet," I scolded out loud. "Let's get her home."
They were back. All my children were alive and safe. But I couldn't give myself too long to celebrate. I walked with Esme, Bella and Edward. Alice and Jasper were behind us, still absorbed in each other. As I walked I couldn't help but worry what the future held.
Surely Edward and Bella would get back together, but what then? I was certain Edward would stick to his decision to keep her human, but that meant she would die one day, and when she did, would Edward go running back to Volterra?
I can't allow that to happen. But the only other option is … a stern look from Edward told me he didn't appreciate where my thoughts were going.
If he keeps her human, than they will both die some day. The thought horrified me. I couldn't lose two of my children, after the event of the last couple of days I knew that was true.
But that was a problem that could wait. For, in the here and now, my family was safe and whole again at last. Perhaps, instead of worrying for the future, I should take a moment to just enjoy the present, no matter how brief the happiness might be.
It's good to see you again, son. I had already thought that several times already, but one more time wasn't going to hurt. My son favored me with his trademark smirk. It was good to see him more like his normal self.
My joy at seeing all my family together, including Edward, Bella and Alice, was tainted when I saw Edward stiffen the minute he saw Rosalie. Beside me Rosalie tensed up as well.
She didn't mean any harm, Edward. She just wanted you to come home. We all did.
I heard Esme whisper something to Edward, but the words were just quiet enough to stop me from hearing them. Edward's reply, however, was completely audible.
God, why does it all have to be so difficult? Everyone's back, at last, so why can't everything just be OK for a change? All we want, Rosalie included, was our family back together and back to normal, or as close to normal as a family of vampires can be.
I would have said the last part out loud, but it would only have been for Edward's benefit and I knew he had already heard it.
Listening back in to the conversation between Edward and Esme, I heard Bella mumble words that made no sense.
"Let her make amends, we'll ride with Alice and Jasper," Emse pleaded. I knew Esme wanted our family back together as much I did, perhaps even more. You've got to love that motherly vampire.
Edward glowered at my wife in a way that made me want to stand between him and her.
Edward, you just got back, we haven't seen you in months. Can you cut the emo crap for one minute and actually listen?
"Please, Edward," Bella said. That took me by surprise; it was no secret how Rosalie felt about Bella. After all Rosalie's put her through, she's still trying to get Edward to make amends. That girl's got pluck. You sure can pick 'um, lil bro.
With a sigh, Edward began towing Bella towards the car. Both Rosalie and me got in the front seats without speaking.
This should be an interesting car drive.
I let Emmett drive; I needed to use this time to make Edward forgive me. And Bella too. Differences aside, she had risked her life to save my brother and correct my mistake.
Well, here goes nothing.
"Edward," I began.
"I know." Edward's tone didn't sound forgiving, but at least he hadn't insulted me. It's a start.
I turned my attention to Bella. She lay with her head on Edward's chest, nearly asleep. Looking at her I tried to see what my brother saw. I guess she was sort of pretty, nothing like me, of course, but she had the whole girl next-door look going for her.
I guess if that's your type, she's all right. Complete opposite of me, but clearly I wasn't Edward's type.
The bitterness crept into my thoughts before I could stop it. So much for my attempt to be nicer toward Bella. I'll just have to try again, I guess.
"Bella?" I asked softly, fearful she was asleep. Her eyelids fluttered open.
"Yes, Rosalie?" I didn't miss how hesitantly she had said it. She's really scared off me. The thought didn't give me the pleasure it would have done before the events of the last few days.
"I'm so very sorry, Bella. I feel wretched about every part of this, and so grateful that you were brave enough to go save my brother after what I did. Please say you'll forgive you me." There I've done it, I've apologised to her.
"Of course, Rosalie," she mumbled. "Not fault. I the jump damn. Course for you." I tried not to laugh at the nonsense that came out of her mouth. I think the last words were meant to be 'course I forgive you', or I hoped so.
"It doesn't count unless she's conscious, Rose," Emmett chuckled. Bella mumbled something not understandable in response.
"Let her sleep," Edward insisted.
I watched as she fell asleep. Sleep, something I haven't been able to do in over seventy years. Will she soon no longer be able to do so too?
Suddenly I knew what I could do for Bella to make up for everything I'd done. Instead of hating her for being human, I would put all my effort into making sure she stayed that way. I would open her eyes about the damnation she seemed so eager for, and help her to make the right decision, instead of a decision she would regret for all of eternity.
"That would be very helpful, Rosalie," Edward said sincerely. He hated the idea of her being changed as much as I did. I could make it up to both of them at the same time, all I had to do was make one stubborn human see sense.
Watching her sleep, I promised myself, and Edward, that she would do so for the rest of her life.
This chapter is based upon the end of Chapter 22 of New Moon, 'Flight', and some of the dialogue comes from there. New Moon, of course, belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
Lots of conflicting thoughts about Bella's humanity from some of the Cullens there. I was trying to show what might have affected them to vote the way they did when it comes to the vote, particularly with Carlisle and Rosalie.
I'd just like to say a big 'thank you' to everyone who reviewed, favourited or subscribed. An especially big 'thank you' to those who've taken the time to review regularly. You have no idea how happy your reviews make me.
I'd love to hear your views on this final chapter, and this story as a whole. Did you like how I characterised each Cullen? Did they react the way you've always imagined they would have?
I'm also eager to start on my next fanfic project; I'm just having a bit of a mind block on what to write about. What would you like to read about when it comes to the untold stories behind the story of Bella and the Cullens? Suggestions would be greatly appreciated; I just need an idea to get my writing started again.