'Love Actually' Contest

Title: All These Years

Characters: Edward/Bella

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all characters.

Image that inspired you: Prompt 8

I straightened myself to my full height, even though it hurt back to do so and taking a deep breath, I entered the room. I looked at her, my beautiful girl, mine, and thought of all the things that I wanted to tell her. There was so much that I should have said over the years. So much. I walked slowly toward her, thinking about where to begin. I laughed to myself at the irony of realizing the beginning would probably be the best place to start this conversation.

"Do you remember the first time we met, love?" I asked as I sat down next to her. "Senior year of high school. Biology. I remember it was the first day of my...our senior year. I remember it was the very first class after lunch but I can't remember the teacher's name anymore. You remember though, don't you love?"

"I disliked you on sight," I told her, as if she didn't know. "I damned my luck when you were placed at the table next to me, as my lab partner. I didn't want to sit next to you and smell the strawberries scent coming off your hair every time you moved your head. I didn't want to feel the electricity between us as the instructor put on that movie and turned off the lights. I even tried to get my schedule changed so that I wouldn't have to be with you." I told her feeling my face heat with shame.

I watched her face as I spoke, hoping she could hear the sincerity in my words. "It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Of course, I was far too stubborn to realize that, then. So I spent my time running away from you, trying to figure these intense feelings I had what I needed to do all along was just run into your arms."

I laughed again, looking down at my lap, still a bit embarrassed by my behavior. "I avoided you for weeks. I am still ashamed of how rude I was to you. A lot of good it did me. You were already in my heart; all my thoughts were of you."

Shaking my head in disbelief, I continued, "I couldn't understand how you could impact my life so completely after just one hour of being with you. Up to that point, I thought I had it all figured out; what college to go to, what career path to take. I never even considered...love."

"When I saw you in that bookstore in Portland that night; you were all alone while the big dance was happening in the gymnasium at Forks High. I knew I could never be away from you again. I was sick of being alone and over-thinking everything." I smiled happily at the memory. "I was so clumsy with my words that night. I wanted to apologize. I just wanted to try and make you understand how powerful my feelings were."

"As fumbling and awkward as I was, you understood. Didn't you, love? You always understood me. No matter how irrational or foolish my arguments were over the years, you always understood. And thank God, you could talk me down." I laughed lightly, my tone remaining serious, "I've thanked God for you every night for fifty-three years."

"You smiled at me that night in the book store and placed your hand in mine. Your hand fit so perfectly in mine and felt so tiny. Instantly, I felt very protective of you. Suddenly, everything fell into place and all the pieces fell together. I was meant to love you. We were made for each other and I was so tired of trying to stay away from you. I just didn't have the strength to do it anymore." I spoke while smiling down at her again, "We've never been apart since, have we, my beautiful wife?"

I knew she wouldn't answer so I continued, "It is still one of my top ten days of my life. I'm sure it won't be a surprise to you that every one of my top ten days was spent with you. Every happy second of my existence was because of you. Shall I tell you about the other nine best days of my life?"

I thought for a moment and then smirked, "The first time we made love," I snorted remembering climbing through her bedroom window that night. "We had been dating for over a year and had just graduated high school." Nostalgia hit me hard then, and I clutched at my chest in grievance for those days. "You were so perfect that night, in that white gown with the lace trim. Seeing you...touching you... I still find it difficult to describe. It was over too soon but holding you in my arms while you slept was nearly as good. I never told you, but you whispered that you loved me in your sleep that night. While the sex was great, that was the part that I never wanted to end- your love for me."

I turned back toward the window, gazing out at the rain clouds moving in. It seemed fitting. "I want you to know there has never been anyone else. I never touched another woman. You were always the only one for me. I know you had your doubts and we went through hard times and I was an insufferable bastard at times. For all the wrong I had done; I swear, I never cheated."

I smiled, then, turning toward her as I said, "The day we got married. I was so nervous being on an airplane for the first time, but eloping to Vegas was one of the best ideas we ever had...even if it did piss off Alice." Laughing loudly, I added, "Drinking champagne from your belly button in the hotel room later that night was a close second".

"Being inside you, somehow, felt even better knowing that you were mine; bound to me in every way," I told her because it was true, it had felt different; better. "Hearing you scream my name and knowing we didn't have to be quiet or hide anymore. Knowing that I never had to take you back to your dad's and watch you walk away from me. Yeah, that was one hell of a day."

"The day we went for a walk in the forest and found the meadow. Our meadow. I remember the look on your face, when we stepped into that clearing, was more amazing than the view." I rubbed my fingers through my hair. "We spent a lot of time together there over the years- laying in the grass and talking, holding hands under the stars, kissing...and more." I smiled, remembering how her eyes had sparkled in the sunlight.

"Remember when you made me take that bench out there because you were tired of your bottom getting wet and cold?" I said chuckling. "I think we are both very certain that is where our daughter was conceived," I told her, raising my eyebrow inquisitively, She didn't respond and I sighed heavily, realizing she wouldn't.

"Speaking of Renesmee, the day our daughter was born, would be another of my top ten days," my eyes suddenly filled with tears, thinking of her, "You were so brave. Nessie was so tiny and so beautiful." My tone turned serious again as I told her with honesty, "She'll be okay, you know? She's brave like you, love. It will take a while but she is surrounded by people that love her and I just know she will make it through this." She didn't answer but I knew she understood because she always did.

My voice softened and I took her hand, so cold, "The day we bought the cottage. I was so proud of the money we saved. Our own home, on our own property. It was small but perfect for us." I laughed loudly, "Remember trying to get my piano through the front door?"

I stopped for a moment collecting myself, "I don't think I told you enough but it was always good and plenty for me. I know you wondered constantly, always biting your lip in concentration, but I never wanted anything more than what we had. I never wanted anything but you and the ability to make you happy," I told her with sincerity.

I continued with my story, knowing I needed to finish this, "Nessie's wedding day was bittersweet. Giving her away to Jacob was one of the most difficult things I had ever done. Seeing her so happy though, made it worth it." I gave her my best crooked smile, knowing she would appreciate it. "Taking you home that night, to an empty house, where we could finally christen the new sofa was pretty great, too."

"It was strange being alone together in the house and I know you felt lonely at times." It was hard to find the words, even after all these years to explain how much she meant to me, "I'm sorry, Bella. Sorry for every time I wasn't with you when you needed me. I'm sorry for every time I failed to keep you safe. Sorry for all the times that I said stupid shit that made you feel childish and inferior." I whispered, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

Wiping my eyes, I carried on, "The day we retired and I was finally able to spend every minute of every day with you was a dream come true. "Over the years, we were always fulfilling our responsibilities to our jobs and society when all I ever wanted was you." I told her, winking, and then I realized that maybe she wouldn't see it.

"The day our grandson, William, was born. He was such a tiny thing. So beautiful. Seeing Nessie as strong as you had been and knowing she would never be alone made me feel complete somehow," I said, scrubbing my hands over my face, "Can you understand that?" I nodded because of course she did.

I cleared my throat, knowing I was nearing the end, "Our fiftieth anniversary. I felt as if we had truly accomplished something in this generation of divorce. I know you were worried about growing old but you've never looked more beautiful. I need for you to see that I never stopped loving you, after all these years. I never will."

I stuttered, my eyes welling up with tears again, "Thank you. Thank you for being my wife. Thank you for every shirt you ironed, every dinner you cooked. Thank you for everything you went out of your way to do to make my life better," I looked at her again because she had to know, "You made my life better every day just by breathing."

"Thank you for giving me Nessie and standing by my side. Thank you for every time you let me hold your hand in public. Thank you for every night that you let me hold you. Thank you, Isabella, for every single day of these fifty-three years. Thank you."

The door opened then, a young man sticking his head around the corner, "Mr. Cullen, I'm sorry, it's time," My first reaction was to be angry at this person who wanted to take her away from me. How dare he dare interrupt my final words to her? I took deep breaths to calm myself and smooth my features. I knew she wouldn't want me to make a scene and I didn't want to make things harder for Renesmee.

I nodded to him and leaned to kiss her on the forehead one last time, speaking into her ear, I told her fervently, "Please don't be scared, I promise I won't be far behind you. The doctors told me yesterday. Same as you, my sweet. Cancer," I felt my eyes brim again and I bit my lip to keep them at bay, "Remember this, heaven is the greatest place in the world, the place where you were most happy in your life, filled with your most cherished loved ones."

I stood, allowing the young man to pull the sheet over her still form, "I'll meet you in the meadow, love," I whispered and then turned to walk back out the door.