A/N: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight.
Sorry for the wait, my beloved readers! This grew to be a hell of a lot longer than originally planned, but I hope you don't mind?
So.. Epilogue.. This really is the end, isn't is? Well, if I don't decide to write a sequel, that is.. ;) The thought is growing on me, but I'm not sure. I'll let you decide!
THANK YOU to BAfan, who has been my beta once again! She's great with words and has been a big help!
Chapter theme songs:
1. Jason Walker - Down
2. Eva Cassidy - Songbird
3. RyanDan - The Sun
(REALLY recomend listening to them..)
I don't know where I'm at
I'm standing at the back
And I'm tired of waiting
Waiting here in line, hoping that I'll find what I've been chasing.
I shot for the sky
I'm stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I'm gonna fall down
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
Never know why it's coming down, down, down.
Oh I am going down, down, down
Can't find another way around
And I don't want to hear the sound, of losing what I never found.
The airport at night was crowded. There were people chattering everywhere, most of them in quiet voices and with exhausted expressions as they dragged their suitcases across the large, open space. In the distance I heard the sound of airplanes taking off, and behind me was a family with two small children, all of them wearing the same tired faces as they waited in line.
A hand suddenly grasped my arm; I had been too caught up in my inner turmoil to notice him coming up behind me. I turned, meeting his fierce gaze.
"Don't do it."
Where did he come from? How did he know? I narrowed my eyes at him, shrugging off his hand easily.
"Get away from me. I have nothing to say to you." The words were true. There was nothing more to be said, nothing more to do now that she had made her decision. And I'd be damned if I'd stand there, talking to the man who was the reason for my suffering. The reason I was now seeking my death.
"You haven't thought this through. Would you please listen to me for just one second?"
I looked around, and noticed that everyone was watching us. I imagine we were quite the sight to behold.
I stepped out of the line, walking ahead of him to a secluded area.
"What? What do you want? To torture me some more? Try to rip me apart further? I assure you, you've already done a hell of a job at that." I was a bit shocked that I was able to keep somewhat composed, seeing as I was literally falling apart inside. Perhaps it was the numbness that began to invade my mind that allowed me to still stand upright.
Whatever it was, I hoped it would remain. I'd rather be numb than feel the scorching pain that burned through me, destroying everything in its path.
"I want you to realize what you are doing, because I know you're not thinking clearly right now."
"It should have been me!" I spat, not caring about keeping my voice down. A man who was walking past us jumped slightly in shock, and when he caught my expression he hurriedly walked away.
"This will sound strange but… I know. In a way, you could be better for her than I can." He paused. "But she has decided, and she made the choice that she believes is the right one."
I couldn't believe he had admitted that, but I understood what he was saying. "You mean I would be better for her because she'd have a chance at a new start with me."
He nodded, and his jaw clenched.
"Then why don't you-" I began.
He cut me off. "Because I love her! I love her so much that it consumes me. No one else will ever understand the depth of my feelings for her, because no one else has gone through what I have. It has made me realize things, and I know now that I can't ever be without her."
"I can't either. So why are you here? You must realize what you would have done if it had been you."
"I would have wanted to do the same thing, but I would never have gone through with it." He looked pained now, like he was remembering something, or perhaps imagining what he would have felt if the situation had been reversed.
"Why not?" I asked.
He shook his head slightly. "Because I will never cause her that kind of pain again," he said, looking me straight in the eyes. "Don't you realize what it will do to her? Can you imagine her trying to live with your death on her conscience? She could never do it; it would destroy her."
"How am I supposed to live then? How can I ever forget her? You speak as if there is some other option, but there is no way for me to not be with her."
I knew he was telling the truth, of course. I knew what it would do to her, but right now I wasn't a rational man. I was broken, my reason for living had been taken away from me and I had no way to go on without her. Wouldn't she want me to have peace, wherever that peace was found?
"There are other options, but I'm not saying it won't hurt, because pain is inevitable in the situation we're in."
I growled at him, "How dare you say 'we'? You don't have to feel any pain, you don't have to face eternity alone, thinking about how things could have been." I began to step around him, but he caught my arm in a steel grip. I knew that I would draw too much attention to us if I pulled away; people were already glancing our way.
"Don't you think I have to feel pain? Yes, I will be with the woman I love, but I will have to face eternity wondering if she's thinking about what could have been." He stood in front of me, anger and hopelessness clear in his face.
"Don't even try to compare what you're feeling to what I'm going through! You're not fooling me. You knew from the beginning who she would choose."
"I never knew what her decision would be; how could I? I saw how much she loves you, and if I had been a stronger man, maybe I could have stayed away and let her be happy with you. But I couldn't."
"Well, damn you then, and damn your weakness," I hissed.
"I am truly sorry that you were put in the middle of this, but I never had a choice. I have to be with her, it's the only way I can live."
I laughed weakly, "Yes, well, me too. And now that I can't, there is only one option." I snapped my arm out of his grasp, "Goodbye, Mr. Cullen."
"Don't do this, Derek," he said again. "If you love her the way you say you do, don't do this to her."
I walked a few steps, and then stopped, looking back at him. Taking one deep breath, I whispered, "Take care of her," and then I kept walking, not waiting for a response.
Once I had boarded the plane and found my seat, I leaned back, closing my eyes as another wave of pain swept through me. Live forever with this? How could I?
For her, a voice inside my head said.
But how? How do you go on when you know that there is no going back? I had been pulled into this triangle drama without even knowing it existed at first, and then I had been ripped apart and spit out, left alone to try and pick up the pieces. But I couldn't possibly be whole again, not when such a big part of me was missing.
I had been sleepwalking through my existence until she came along – existing, but not really aware, my emotions rigidly controlled. Loving her brought me back to life.
Was this kind of heartbreak something time and space could ever heal? I thought about my family, and the pain I had suffered through when I had lost them. It hadn't lessened with time, but it had… it had become more bearable. The pain would never go away, but I had learned to live with it. I had chosen to try and live the kind of life my parents would have wanted me to, even though the hole their absence had left in me felt too deep to ever get through in the beginning.
Could I ever go back to how things were before I met her?
"If you love her the way you say you do, don't do this to her." His words echoed in my head, and the haze that had clouded my thoughts ever since I read her letter began to fade.
I loved her, so how could I hurt her this way? Was the pain I felt now worth causing her pain too?
No. I had already been so selfish, asking her to choose between me and him; I couldn't do it again.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and made my decision.
I would not put her through any more pain. I would not cause the woman I loved any more suffering; she'd already had enough of that to last a lifetime.
I would try to live with this, and hope that one day I wouldn't feel as though the pain from her absence would kill me. They say that time heals all wounds. I guess I would find out now if that's true.
In the back of my mind, I wondered if Edward had seen my resolve, if he had known that I would come around. A small part of me was sure that he wouldn't have let me walk away if he hadn't seen it, because no matter what I thought about him, I couldn't deny the fact that he loved Bella and I don't think he would have allowed me to hurt her that way. Regardless of his feelings towards me, he wouldn't have wanted me to kill myself.
"Can I offer you something to drink, sir?" A female voice interrupted my thoughts. I looked up and shook my head slightly, trying my best to give her a small smile.
She blushed, smiled a nervous smile, and turned to the next passenger.
I sat and watched her absentmindedly for a few minutes, thinking about how my life would be from now on. Can someone ever fall in love again after this kind of heartbreak?
I sighed, leaned back into my seat again and closed my eyes once more.
I decided that I would allow myself a vacation, and then go somewhere new and start teaching again.
Love would just have to wait.
For you, there'll be no crying.
For you, the sun will be shining.
'Cause I feel that when I'm with you
It's all right, I know it's all right.
And the songbirds keep singing
Like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before
To you, I would give the world
To you, I'd never be cold
'Cause I feel that when I'm with you
It's all right, I know it's all right.
The city was quiet. I hadn't seen anyone since I'd left my car by the street and walked here. In the distance I heard cheerful voices and thoughts from a group of people strolling along the sidewalk, laughing as they made their way through the dimly lit streets towards whatever their destination was. I listened for any other sound, but there was none.
I crossed a dark, abandoned playground. Images of an alternate life, conjured up by my subconscious, filled my mind when I passed a set of swings that were slowly swaying back and forth in the light breeze. I had tried to banish these types of thoughts, but it was impossible - the pain from our loss was still so near. I didn't know if it would get easier with time; I just hoped that being with Bella would help fill the void in my heart, the part that would have belonged to our child, and in a way, still did. Though instead of being a place of love, there was just blackness, and overwhelming pain.
These months without Bella had been the worst I'd ever experienced in my too-long life. Letting her go to Paris, watching her plane vanish into the gray clouds, carrying her away from me, was even more agonizing than it had been to walk away from her, because I didn't know if I would be the one she came back to. Surely the gods, if they exist, must have been laughing at the irony, for I'd finally realized exactly what I'd put Bella through when I left Forks, all those years ago.
The only reason I'd been able to let her go after the accident . . . after losing the baby neither one of us had even dreamed was possible . . . was because I knew it was what she needed. And, as always, only Bella could be more important than my own wants and needs.
I reached the path that led to the old wooden bridge, still lost in thoughts of what could have been. Even though I had never imagined myself as a father before, the pain that came with knowing that I could have been was unbearable.
The sound of footsteps brought me out of my reverie, and my pace quickened as I heard the steady beats of a familiar heart.
Her letter had told me to meet her here at this exact time, and it had taken all my self control not to go straight to the house where she was staying, the moment I opened the envelope and read her words.
The Arcachon Bridge was beautiful at night. The stars above were reflected in the river, and a handful of streetlamps lit up the bridge with soft gleam. In the distance I could now hear soft music playing, originating from a house on the other side of the river.
I walked past a number of wooden benches, all engraved with short love notes or just two names circled by a heart. When I reached the middle of the bridge, I stopped. The sound of her heartbeats filled my mind, and as I watched her walk closer, I felt every missing piece of me being put back in place. She was here. She had chosen me.
Unable to wait for her to reach me, I started towards her, my pace slightly quicker than human speed. When I saw her face break into a breathtaking smile, it felt like my still heart would start beating again. She opened her arms for me, and without slowing down, I slid my arms around her waist and picked her up, holding her close to me as I gave in to all the emotions bubbling up inside me.
"Bella" I whispered, and buried my face in her brown, soft curls. I breathed in her heavenly scent, and every part of my body was in complete harmony as I held the woman I loved in my arms again.
I could feel warm teardrops against my skin, but I couldn't turn my head as she hugged herself impossibly closer to me, her legs wrapped around my waist and arms locked around my neck in a steel grip.
"I've missed you, my love. So, so much. . . ." The words were whispered against her hair. I felt her body shake and more tears hitting the back of my neck.
"I'm so sorry, Edward."
The words confused me, and I released her grip around my neck and pulled back to look at her. She was so beautiful. Her cheeks were a shade darker than when I had last seen her, and she had tiny freckles on her nose. Being in the sun definitely agreed with her; she looked lovely with some colour on her skin. Her eyes were the same deep chocolate brown that I always lost myself in, although right now they were filled with tears.
"Baby, what's wrong? Why are you sorry?" I asked, gently brushing away her tears.
She choked back the sobs, and released one hand from around my neck to place it on my cheek. I instinctively leaned into her touch.
"For leaving you and making you wait all this time," she whispered.
"Bella, honey, it's okay. You needed this; it was the right thing do to," I told her, tracing her bottom lips with my fingertips. "You don't have to apologize for anything."
She dropped her legs from around my waist, and took my hand in hers as she led me to one of the benches. I sat down first and pulled her onto my lap, cradling her in my arms again.
"Edward, I've realized something. I guess, in a way, I always knew it, but it just took me a while to understand." Bella gazed relentlessly into my eyes, as if she wanted to be sure that she had my full attention. She did, of course. I always hung on to every word she ever spoke.
After a few seconds, she raised her hand to caress my face again. "There never really was a choice to make."
I watched her, speechless, not understanding what she meant by that. She leaned closer, her lips only inches from mine before she spoke again.
"It was always you, Edward. I never wanted to live without you, but when I was forced to, I tried to do it the best I could. But then you came back, and I should have known from the second I saw your face, that there was no point in trying to pretend like what we had wasn't still as strong, and after hearing you tell me that you had never wanted to leave me in the first place, I should have believed you and maybe some of the heartbreak could have been spared.
I could never love anyone as much as I love you, I've always known that, it's just… I guess a part of me still wanted to be sure, but my heart knew all along what the right choice was."
"But-" I began, but she held her finger to my lips, silencing me.
"During all the time I was with Derek, I knew that he would never be able to take your place in my heart. I couldn't give him something that doesn't even belong to me," she said, and I tried to absorb what she was telling me.
Slowly, she leaned forward until our lips met. Everything that had happened for the past three years was gone with that kiss; every lie forgiven, every tear unshed, all the heartbreak mended and the love rebuilt, stronger than ever before.
"I love you, body and soul. I'll always be yours," I whispered against her lips.
Bella laughed softly and kissed me once more before leaning back and looking into my eyes.
"So you finally believe that you have a soul?" she asked, smiling at me. The tears were gone, replaced with nothing but happiness.
"How could I not? If I deserve this kind of heavenly gratification, surely I must have one," I answered, and then I claimed her lips again.
I don't know how long we sat there, but the sun eventually began to rise in the east, and I realized that it was time for us to leave. There was just one more thing I wanted to do first. Bella's head was resting on my shoulder; she wasn't asleep, but not far from it. Without moving her, I pulled out the car key from my pocket.
"Bella?" I whispered, kissing the top of her head.
She turned her head to face me. "Hmm?" she mumbled sleepily.
I smiled. "I'll take you home, there's just something I want to do before we leave."
She sobered up immediately and sat up straight in my lap.
"I thought we should leave a little mark of our own." I gestured at the inscriptions on the bench. Bella understood what I was saying, and reached for the key in my hand.
"Can I do it?" she asked.
"Of course you can, love." I handed her the key, and she leaned forward and started to carve out letters in the wood. It took her a great deal longer than it would have taken me to do it, but I didn't mind.
When she sat back up, she handed me the key with a pleased smile on her lips. I looked to see what she had written.
Edward & Bella.
Forever and always, body and soul.
"I'm yours, all of me, for every moment of forever," she said. "I love you, Edward."
It felt like my heart really had started to beat again. My love for this woman was beyond anything else in the world. It was everything.
"As I am yours, my love." I cradled her head in my hands, gazing into her eyes. "I will never let you go again, Bella."
And then I leaned down, and pressed my lips against hers once more.
I tried to hide from you, but I failed
I tried to lie to you, but how I failed
and even in my darkest time you gave me light
I never knew this kind of love could feel so right
when I'm in your arms, I find myself believe it
We could be anywhere
so I can keep on dreaming
Whenever you're close to me, you`re like the sun
You feel like the sun, and everyday you're telling me
I am the one, I am the one who makes you shine
And I know, whenever you want me to, I'll go
and even when you're not with me, I feel you there
I only have to look and see, and I'll know where
when I'm holding you the world can stop its turning
you`re always gonna pull me through
and I won't be returning
The sunbeams filtered down through the trees, making everything shimmer in a ray of thousands of different colours. The small water drops on the leaves above me reflected the light, and I took the time to count them all, marvelling at the sheer magnificence of something that I had once thought was so small and trivial. Now that I could really see, I knew that the true beauty lay in the small things that most people took for granted.
I let my fingers reach out and stroke the grass beside me. It tickled my skin and felt so very soft under my fingertips.
When I looked up I saw the clear blue sky behind the treetops, the sun was smiling down on me where I lay in amazement, taking in every detail of the magical place around me with a smile of joy and delight on my lips.
I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply, letting all the different fragrances in the air tickle my senses: grass, lilac blossoms, tree bark, sunshine, and rich earth. In the distance I detected an amazing scent of the sweetest perfume. I knew it very well, and I smiled as I heard light footsteps quickly coming in my direction.
Still keeping my eyes closed I gave the warm hand I held in mine a light squeeze, and felt the impossibly wonderful feeling when his fingertips began to trace a pattern up and down my arm. After all this time, my body still reacted the same way at his touch.
I turned my head slightly to the left, and waited until I felt his lips brush against mine. Soft at first, and then as the passion between us grew, the kiss deepened and intensified.
When the kiss ended, I opened my eyes and met the most beautiful golden eyes. He had that breathtaking smile on his lips and he continued tracing the pattern from my arm, to my collarbone and then up my neck, letting his fingers slip into my hair.
I marvelled at his beauty; the sun made his skin sparkle like diamonds and his soft hair glowed in the light.
I reached my hand out to delicately touch his lips, and they parted under my fingertips. His hand closed around mine as he held it to his face and gently kissed each one of my fingertips, before leaning forward to claim my lips again.
We got lost in each other, as always, and I found myself pressed against the grass with him over me. I would never get enough of this man; there was nothing in the world that could compare to what I felt when he looked at me. After all these years, the love I saw in his eyes was still as strong, the passion just as overwhelming as the first day we met. Time had not lessened any feelings I had for him; instead it had made them impossibly deeper, and I was tied to him in every way imaginable. If I hadn't experienced it myself, I would never have believed that this kind of love was real.
The light footsteps from the forest came closer, and when I heard them coming out into the meadow I gave him one more soft kiss, and then we both sat up.
Our hands were interlaced between us, and I released one to hold it out to the little girl.
"Mommy, Daddy, look, look!" A wonderful, high trilling voice called out to us.
I smiled at my beautiful daughter as she almost floated to where we sat, taking my outstretched hand and gracefully folding her legs to sit between us. She held out the most perfect white flower in her little hand, smiling as she offered it to us.
"It sparkles, just like you and Mommy do!" her voice was full of excitement and her eyes glittered as she leaned back into her father's chest. He laughed softly, and placed one arm around her waist.
"It's absolutely beautiful, sweetheart." he said, and his eyes held a love for his daughter that made my heart swell with happiness.
I looked into those hypnotizing eyes as he placed a kiss on our daughter's head. She was playing with the white flower in her hand, holding it to her face and breathing in its scent with closed eyes. Then she held it up to her father's face, and tucked it behind his ear with a pleased smile on her lips.
"There you go, Daddy. It's really pretty, don't you think, Mommy?"
I laughed and stroked her face with the hand that wasn't still in his, feeling her warm skin under my fingers.
"Yes, it is. It suits your father perfectly," I said and smiled at them both.
She was suddenly on her feet again, clapping her hands together as she looked expectantly at us. Her skin glittered faintly in the sunlight, a subtle gleam that made her look even more beautiful. Her long, bronze-coloured curls danced around her face as she turned her head towards the trees.
"I want to find one for you too, Mommy! You and Daddy can help me look!" Her voice was filled with excitement and her eyes had that sparkle in them, the one she knew I could never refuse.
I felt him stand up beside me, and then he walked over to take our daughter's hand in his.
"Okay, Renesmee, show us where you found that pretty white flower. I want you and your mom to have one too."
He looked back at me with dazzling eyes, and I stood up to follow my daughter and husband to the edge of the forest.
When I reached them, Edward leaned over to whisper softly in my ear. I shivered slightly with delight as his lips brushed my skin, sending sparks of electricity through me.
"I love you, Bella," he said, placing a kiss on my cheek.
"Forever," I murmured, taking his hand in mine.
Since this is the very end, I would really LOVE to hear from everyone who has read this story, it would be amazing to see what you've thought of it! The reviews from the last chapter was amazing, I often re-read them because your words makes me so god damn happy :)
Well, I'll better start packing now. Moving from Sweden to Los Angeles tomorrow morning, I'm super excited! (and also have the worst cold ever known to mankind... 23 hour flight is gonna be a blast..)
THANK YOU everyone who has read, reviewd, faved, alerted and sent me PM's asking when the fuck I'm planning to post ;) You have no idea how much all this support means to me! Gonna go work on High Maintenance, Dancing in the dark, Inconvienient Switch and BCI now!