I just wanted to thank you all so much for your patience with this story. I know my updates have been few and far between, and I hope the ending doesn't disappoint you. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, it really spurred me to continue.
Arriving home I found myself greeted by my whole family. Carlisle and Esme sat at the glass topped table in the large kitchen area, Emmett and Rosalie on the large cold leather sofa, Alice perched on the bottom step to the large winding staircase as Jasper stood at her side, his eyes fixed to the door as I entered through it. Looking up I met with Alice's eyes, her gaze softened as Carlisle moved towards me, his hands clasped in front of him.
"You made the right decision son"
I looked down, almost with shame and then back up to his gaze, tilting my head I moved my gaze towards Alice as she stood slowly, smoothing down her dress as she looked up at me, a reassured smile set against her mouth.
"I expected for you to show up Alice"
Her mouth lifted at the corner as cool, caring eyes looked back at me.
"I knew you'd do the right thing brother, I've always trusted you and that'll never change"
Nodding and returning her smile I directed myself towards Carlisle again, his stance superior and strong. He still held reservations about trusting me and I couldn't blame him for that. I'd let him down, let everyone down and now was a time to change I had to make sure that would never happen again.
Esme stepped before me and enclosed me in her arms, motherly instincts kicked in as she whispered against my shoulder.
"Carlisle has told me everything son, and I want you to know it doesn't change your place in this family. Your home now and that's all that matters. We'll support you Edward, you're not alone. We have all the time in the world to make it right"
Alice's soft voice called forwards suddenly.
"But we don't have all the time in the world, do we Edward?"
Esme released me and held me at arm's length, her warm, kind eyes held with my own as I felt guilt sweep through me.
"What does she mean Edward?"
Stepping away from her I walked towards the window, Emmett moved out of my path and stood at Rosalie's side. I finally found my voice as my hands placed against the window, my eyes taking in the expanse of wilderness that lay before me.
"She means that I won't be here for you to support me, I'm leaving. I'm leaving and I'm never coming back."
The reactions all differed as I heard Eseme gasp. Carlisle reached out and reassuringly took hold of her shoulder, He understood, knew what it was like to feel lost and unsure of what you are.
Alice's reaction was the most shocking of all. She understood completely, she knew it was the best decision for me and that I needed to find my own happiness.
Jasper was the first to break the silence.
"Where will go?"
Turning to face the varied expressions before me I met his gaze and shrugged.
"Honestly, I don't know. Maybe I'll spend some time with Tanya's family. Who knows, perhaps one day I'll come back with a family of my own. I do however know that this is the first time I've made such a clear decision. There is nothing for me here, nothing to continue on for"
Rosalie threw the most desired question at me next.
"And Bella? What about her? I mean, didn't you once protest she was your only reason to continue on?"
Moving myself slowly to face her I nodded, dropping my head towards the floor once more as I answered her.
"Yes, I did. But I got it wrong, I hid myself within her and it wasn't healthy. She can never be a part of my world, it was an unachievable fantasy and one day she will come to learn that too"
"And when exactly were you going to tell me that?"
Turning sharply I face Bella as she stood in the doorway, her shirt still stained from blood, the distress previously clear in her eyes was replaced by hurt and anger. Stepping forwards I watched as she moved back away, her hand held up between us in a defensive manor.
"No Edward. Don't! If you have any scrap of respect for me you'll just answer my question"
"Answer her son"
I looked towards Carlisle and then Bella.
"I couldn't face breaking your heart again! I want you to have a happy and good life Bella; you have the making to do wonderful things, to be someone that counts. I can't be the reason you let those opportunities go"
Shaking her head I watched as silent tears tumbled down her face.
"You always make the rules don't you Edward? Everything goes by your code of conduct, it doesn't matter how I feel or what I want. What you say goes!"
Alice stood beside her and laid a comforting arm around her shoulders as she soothed her.
"Bella, what he's saying ...its right! Deep down you know it too"
Emmett gripped against my shoulder as he squeezed lightly, his touch pulling my gaze away from Bella. I found myself being pulled towards his firm body as He patted my back.
"Take care bro, watch those vampires out there" Smiling I nodded and watched as Rosalie stepped into the gap he had now put between us, reaching out she took my hand within hers, rubbing her thumb over the back of mine, her words unusually tender.
"Stay in touch, and let me know if you need any female ass kicked" Winking she stepped back to Emmet's side as his arm slide about her waist.
It was Jasper that moved forward next, pushing his hand through his golden hair as he grinned at me.
"Be sure to remember everything I taught you brother, those newborns are crafty suckers" Lifting the corner of my mouth I took his extended hand and shook it thankfully.
Before I could move Alice threw herself forwards, curling my arms about her I savoured the embrace of my sister.
"Edward please take care of yourself, stay out of trouble and remember we will always be here for you. I love you"
Nodding slowly I returned her sentiment "I love you my darling sister"
Esme couldn't face letting go, she choked back a sob and ran from the room, her apology echoed behind her "I'm sorry... I... I can't"
My distress clear to see as Carlisle reached out and gripped my arm. "She'll be ok son, it's hard letting go of those that we love, I'll talk to her don't worry, just take care of yourself and don't be a stranger!"
I could feel the sadness building up inside me as I fought against it.
"I'm proud of you son, I've always been proud of you and I know that you're going to make me even prouder. I know that you're going to make something wonderful of your life"
Pulling me towards him I returned the loving exchange before shaking his hand and turning my gaze to Bella. Her face damp with tears as he wringed her hands together, not wanting to look up and face what was happening before her. Closing the gap between us I place one finger beneath her chin, tilting her head up, the pain shot through me as she blinked, her eyes containing a barrage of tears and pain.
"I only know happiness is possible because of you Bella, you're the reason that I know my life is worth living and I'll be eternally grateful to you for that. What we have can and will never be broken, I just hope that one day you'll come to realise as I have, that we just don't belong together. Nothing will change how much I love you though. Goodbye Bella"
I took one final look at the family and love that I was leaving behind as I swept from my home, the forest which once seemed a dull green, sparkled before my eyes as I watched everything with a new sense of meaning, Everything felt different and as I left the town of Forks behind I knew that this was merely the beginning of the rest of my existence and I had none to thank but the amazing souls I had shared my life with. I knew now that a soul wasn't something that could just be taken away, it was merely a light that sometimes dimmed within us, it just took a special kind of love to reignite it. And despite all of the deadly desires that had tempted me, I felt my soul come alive and now I truly believed in it, now I knew I would never let it be extinguished again.