Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. The words are mine.

The Twilight Twenty-Five
Prompt #: 5
Pen name: IdPattThat
Pairing: Edward & Bella
Rating: T

Photos for prompts can be found here:

The small stack of letters sat as it has for nearly a week, on the small nightstand that was shoved between the wall and a twin-sized bed. A ribbon, which had not been untied or even touched, drooped sadly onto the faded piece of furniture. The thin, silk material a sad reminder of the love that once tied them together.

He tied the ribbon around her wrist and smiled. "You're stuck with me now, you know?" He grinned a perfect smile and she couldn't help but react with her own. She didn't want to be anyone else's.

In the small, single dorm room she sat and stared at the letters, those offensive pieces of paper that daunted her all week. She doesn't dare open them for fear that they would expose the only love she ever knew as a fraud.

It is ironic to her that the ending of their relationship would come in such a small bundle of letters when what she felt was bigger than life.

She knew that when he signed the papers his life would, for all intents and purposes, be over. The government would own him now. Not her. Not his mother. Uncle Sam would have full control of his life and no one would have a say in it.

"I'm going to Iraq."

She remembered the words perfectly in her mind. They replayed themselves over and over, a broken record stuck high on a shelf she couldn't reach. She just wanted them to stop.

"Go to school, Bella."

He always encouraged her. She wanted more than a small town life for herself, for them, for their future.

"You'll always be my girl."

He promised her. He said he would never leave.

But he did leave. At first, he kept his promises. He wrote and called, vowed his love, swore he was faithful while they were miles apart.

"Summer is coming. Maybe you should visit."

He'd told her that, just as the semester was winding down. But it never happened. Deployment came before she had a chance to see him. The hours they'd spent on the phone in the days before he left were the most painful she'd ever felt and no one could make her feel better. After all, who else knew what it was like to be eighteen and in love?

He promised he'd write and she'd send him packages: pictures, cookies, notes from home; anything he wanted to keep him connected and happy. She devoted her free time to waiting for his calls or emails, her heart jumping each time the phone rang, each 'you've got mail' that was spoken to her.

And each time her heart would fall when it wasn't him. Deeper and deeper until there was no light on the other side, no looking up. His phone calls became few and far between, as did the emails. His letters stopped altogether.

She would see his mother on visits home from school and she would inform her that he was doing well, but there was no other information than that. Did she not deserve to know what was going on? Did the few short years of her life that she gave him mean nothing to anyone?

Weeks passed with nothing until she returned home from class late one night. It was not a package at her door, nor a letter or even a Post-it. He was there, flesh and blood and smile and soul, leaning against the doorframe of her dorm room.

She practically threw herself into his arms, burying her face into the desert camouflage that covered his lean build.

"I've missed you," she whispered to his nametag, just above his heart. He kissed her hair as she opened the door. It was barely closed before he pulled her flush against him, his mouth covering hers, breathing in her air and making her his again.

"I'm so sorry," he murmured against her mouth. "I was so scared but… I wanted you so badly."

They spent days like that, hardly speaking, barely dressed, and only leaving bed for bathroom purposes or when they ran out of food. She was blissfully happy… for three beautiful days.

"I have to leave," he told her, his green eyes downcast.

"Why?" She'd crawled into his lap and pressed her face to his neck.

"It's my job," he explained with a heavy sigh.

"Quit," she mumbled and he laughed softly.

"It's not that easy." He kissed her nose.

"I love you" she whispered.

He left and things went back to normal. Being in the States made it easier to keep in contact. There were calls and texts, emails and instant messages and everything seemed to be back and better than before.

The promises were back.

"As soon as you finish school, baby, I'll be on the first plane back to Washington to make you my wife."

Her parents were skeptical, her friends wary. But she didn't care. They belonged together; she just knew it.

She scrimped and saved and bought a second-hand dress, knowing that he would love it on her no matter what the price. He told her to pick out a ring and when he got there they would buy it and he would propose properly.

But… as the time drew nearer… the calls began to decrease. The texts came less and less. There were no emails. No messages. And she knew. She knew it wasn't like before. There was no war stopping his contact. No ocean in between them either. There was something else standing between a boy and his promises.

Her friends told her to move on: he wasn't worth it, she could do better, and so on.

But she didn't listen. How could she? He was her heart and soul, her whole life's story. Who was Bella without the green-eyed boy to love her?

Months went by with nothing. But she held on because deep down she knew… she knew that he was hers. Her one and only.

No word from him or his family.

Until one day –

"He's gone." Edward's mother spoke, her voice devoid of any emotion.

"Gone?" Bella didn't understand. Did he move? Was he deployed again? Why was he being so childish?

"Dead. Edward is dead." She explained in her empty voice as Bella's world crashed down around her. She tried to wrap her head around the words that flooded her mind, but they made no sense.

There were only phrases and jumbled letters like "rainstorm," "accident," "his girlfriend survived".

They didn't make sense because she was Edward's girlfriend and if he were gone then surely she would be dead, too. What was the point of living if he didn't exist?

There was a funeral.

There was a girl.

There was a stack of letters.

His mother gave them to her at the funeral; a stack of letters that had been in his closet. The blond knew of no 'Bella' so she had willingly handed then over to his mother. That taunting pile of paper that sat untouched on the shabby little nightstand had provoked her enough.

She ripped the ribbon off and let it fall to the floor, just as he had let go of their relationship. His elegant script mocked her as she shuffled through the envelopes, desperate to find the most recent one.

The paper gave way quickly to her anxious hands and she unfolded the thin piece of stationary inside. She read the words on the page over and over until her tears blurred the lines. The letter fell as her knees hit the ground and her voice repeated the only words he'd written in his final letter to her.

"I'm sorry."

I edited this a bit...