Author's Note: To be honest this epilogue is mostly just song lyrics. The song for me sums up the entirety of the feelings examined in this story as a whole. Love, loss and dreams. It seemed appropriate. I'm sorry the epilogue is so short, but it didn't feel right to me to drag it out. I'm leaving it on a bittersweet note, I think. Bella is never going to feel completely 'right' without Edward. But I hope I've got across the point that not all is lost and that there is a light in the distance. Thank you guys for reading and reviewing.
Warnings: None really.
Disclaimer: Twilight has never belonged to me.
Let's dance in style, let's dance for a while
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you going to drop the bomb or not?
Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
The music's for the sad men
Can you imagine when this race is won
Turn our golden faces into the sun
Praising our leaders, we're getting in tune
The music's played by the madman
Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever forever
Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever
Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young?
It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth is like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever
So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams are swinging out of the blue
We let them come true
'Forever Young' - Alphaville
Two Years Later
'How was your run?'
Bella glances at Carlisle as she takes off her running shoes by the door.
'It was alright. Same as usual, I guess.' She runs her hands through her tousled hair and glances around. 'Where's Nessie?'
'Out with Rose and Emmett. They've taken her shopping. Well, Rosalie has. I think Emmett just got dragged along to carry the bags.'
Bella laughs a little and Carlisle inwardly rejoices. Even after two years, getting Bella to laugh or even smile is sometimes tricky.
'I reckon you probably know all of Ohio by now,' Carlisle comments as they walk into the living room where Esme is arranging flowers by the window.
'I'm close,' Bella says, sinking down onto the couch and taking up a magazine. 'I think I've been virtually everywhere.'
'Charlie's flying in next week isn't he?' Esme remarks. 'I think he mentioned something about taking Nessie camping.'
Bella nods. 'She's been looking forward to it for ages. She doesn't see him enough, that's the only trouble with being so far away.'
'At least she's got Jake here all the time now,' Carlisle says.
After some deliberation Jacob had decided to move to Conneaut to join them. He'd held out in Forks for about a year and a half after they left, taking regular trips to see Renesmee. Eventually, however, it became evident that the enforced separation was taking its toll, both on Jake and on Nessie.
'I think my ears are burning,' Jacob announces, wandering into the room to join them.
'We were just saying how much happier Nessie's been since you moved here permanently,' Esme responds, finishing with the flowers. 'You hungry, Jacob?'
'Nah, I'll eat later,' he says. 'When's Nessie expected back?'
'Well, it's Rosalie and shopping,' Carlisle says with a grin. 'I'd say anywhere between four to six hours.'
In fact it's only a couple of hours later when the trio finally come through the door. Emmett has all but disappeared under a number of shopping bags from only the most luxurious boutiques.
'Looks like your credit card took a hammering,' Carlisle says wryly as he stands in the hallway with his arms folded across his chest. Emmett groans and drops the bags onto the floor.
'You have no idea,' he grumbles. 'I was made to go into every store at least twice.'
'It wasn't that bad, you're exaggerating Uncle Em,' Renesmee says, a gleeful smile on her face. 'I got six new outfits Grandad.'
'We may have gone a little crazy,' Rosalie says with an attempt at a repentant expression.
'Can I have my piano lesson now, Auntie Rose?' Nessie asks, gesturing at Edward's piano which takes pride of place in the large hallway. Rosalie smiles.
'Of course. Let me just put these clothes away and I'll be right down.'
As Rose darts off up the stairs, her golden hair flying behind her, Nessie sits at the piano stool and runs a hand lovingly over the smooth wood. Propped up on top is a framed photo of Edward, Bella and Nessie. Edward has Renesmee on his hip and is ruffling her curls with one hand. Beside them Bella has an arm wrapped around his waist and is laughing up at them both.
Bella now joins them in the hallway and crosses to Nessie, dropping a kiss onto the top of her head.
'Did you have a good time, sweetie?'
'Yep,' Nessie replies absently, rifling through sheet music. 'I got six new outfits and now Auntie Rose is giving me my piano lesson. She says I can move onto grade four today.'
Bella smiles sadly and catches Esme's eye. 'That's wonderful. How many grades are there?' Nessie rolls her eyes.
'Come on, Mom, you have to know that.' Bella shrugs and Nessie sighs. 'Eight. There are eight grades.'
'You really didn't know that Bella?' Rosalie teases as she flies down the stairs and perches elegantly next to Nessie on the stool.
'Edward was always the musical one, not me,' Bella says easily, only a slight pause showing her hesitation at mentioning the name.
The assembled family is silent for a moment until Rosalie breaks the tension by running a few scales.
'Right. Now, concentrate Nessie. Do your scales first.'
Carlisle drifts out of the room and outside onto the drive, followed by Esme, Bella and Jacob.
'It's so different, with him not here,' Bella says eventually. She wanders over to the patch of garden lying to the right and takes a seat on the wooden bench situated there. Carlisle and Esme glance at each other and follow her.
'I know, honey,' Esme says warmly, rubbing her shoulder. 'It's always going to be difficult. But with time, it will get easier.'
'Will it?' Bella asks, twisting to face Esme, her features desperate. 'He's in virtually every thought I have. Memories of him are always there. The day he saved me from Tyler's van... the day he saved me again from the guys in Port Angeles. Our prom. Italy. Everything... it's all there and I can't block it out.' She pauses and her expression becomes obstinate. 'I don't want to block it out. But it's so painful, Esme. It hurts.'
'I know,' Esme soothes again.
'How? How do you know? How can you possibly imagine what I'm going through?' Bella shouts, suddenly angry. Carlisle frowns and moves a little closer but Esme shakes her head subtly at him and turns back to Bella.
'Bella, even as vampires, loss is a part of life. You've lost your husband but Carlisle and I have lost a beloved son. And more than that, I know how it feels to lose a part of you. I don't think I've ever gone into detail about this before, but my son died from lung cancer when he was only a few days old.'
Bella's shoulders droop and her expression becomes apologetic.
'No, Bella. You need to hear this. Death, in any form, is always devastating. But we move on and we continue. I thought my life was over the day I lost my son. In fact, I intended to make sure that was true. I know Edward told you I fell off that cliff, but as I said before he was just being a gentleman. I didn't fall. However, instead of death I got life, of a different sort. A life with my soulmate.
'I know you haven't had nearly enough time with Edward, no measure of time would have been enough. But you had something, and that is something to always treasure. I have made every effort to keep the memories of my son clear and sharp in my mind by thinking of him every day. Carlisle and I even go and visit his grave. Every year, on his birthday.'
'I didn't know that,' Bella whispers. 'Where is he buried?'
Esme smiles slightly. 'Ashland. Wisconsin. Not so far from here, really.' She draws Bella in close to her and the younger woman allows it, resting her head against Esme's shoulder. Gently Esme strokes her hair.
'And you have Nessie to think about. She needs her mother. She'll always need you. You're so lucky, Bella. You have a part of Edward still living. And he wouldn't want you to destroy yourself over his death. He would want you to live and be happy. Enjoy your daughter, Bella.'
There is silence for awhile. Absently Carlisle notices that Jacob has vanished, presumably to watch over Nessie's piano lesson. He takes a seat next to Esme on the bench and sighs deeply. Hearing Esme go over her troubled past has not been easy for him. He remembers the times she would go off by herself, just after her turning, clearly desperate to cry and grieve... discovering she could not. Although they had been unable to recover her son's body, Carlisle had paid for a handsome headstone to be crafted and placed in Ashland's epitaph read simply,
David Oliver Platt. Beloved of God and beloved son.
They still went. Every year in mid December. Esme would lay a bouquet of flowers and sit, on her own for awhile with her residual grief as Carlisle busied himself with looking around at the various other graves.
Soon he would return to her side and kiss her gently. She would lean into him while her body shuddered with unshed tears. Then she would lay her hand gently on top of the stone and they would leave, as quietly as they had come. No words needed to be spoken.
Edward has two memorials. One is the piano which Nessie is playing so beautifully at the moment, under Rosalie's careful guidance and Jacob's watchful eye. The other is deep in their back garden, a small, plain stone placed in the earth with bright flowers growing all around it, crafted lovingly by Esme.
Edward Cullen. Always loved. His soul will go on.
'You are free to grieve,' Esme is saying now. 'Go and sit by his grave and be alone with your thoughts and memories. Let them come, don't try and push them away. It can be very cathartic.'
'I don't know what I'd do without you,' Bella murmurs. 'Without both of you.'
Carlisle glances up, startled. 'What have I done?' he asks, bewildered.
'Everything,' Bella replies simply. 'You have always given this family everything, Carlisle, and you will continue to do so.'
I'm finishing it there. It may seem an odd place to end, but to me it seems right. I can't for the life of me say why. I hope you enjoyed it and thank you for continuing to read!