Chapter 24 – The End
Bella's Point of View
Life was completely back to normal – only better.
I was thriving in my new (well, not quite new anymore) vampire body.
We moved back to Forks and Carlisle got back his old job at the hospital. I got to see Charlie again. The wolf pack saw Renesmee every day, which made them all extremely happy.
Jacob came back into our lives. He apologized, saying that he wanted to be around more. He even seemed pretty friendly with Edward.
Leah and Seth showed up too. Esme and Alice both nearly fainted when they saw them. Esme cooked up a weeks worth of food and Alice brought out a years worth of clothes. Seth was beaming. Leah wasn't as excited, but her aversion to all things vampire seemed to have dissipated.
The Volturi wasn't on our tail anymore. Sam's pack was still friendly, still close. Renesmee would be a fully grown, immortal woman in 6 years.
Everything was perfect.
For Edwards and my first wedding anniversary, the Cullens got us a house, a renovated cottage close to the original property. They said that they had originally meant to give it to us sooner, but then Renesmee was born, and things got out of hand.
Edward's and my first night in our new, private house was one of the most perfect nights of my life, and we had so many more nights ahead of us.
One night, we were walking to our room at the cottage, when Edward put his hand under my chin to lift my lips to his.
"Wait," I hesitated, pulling away.
He looked at me in confusion. As a general rule, I didn't pull away. Okay, it was more than a general rule. This was a first.
"I want to try something," I informed him, smiling slightly at his bewildered expression.
I put my hands on both sides of his face and closed my eyes in concentration.
I had been fiddling with the intricacies of my shield for a while, practicing day in and day out. Edward didn't know that he was helping me practice, I let Emmett in on it, making him say awful things about Edward in his head and shielding him from the impending wrath. Emmett was getting a kick out of it. I was getting a lot of practice in. I hadn't done very well with this particular skill, but I had a confidence that it might work.
This wasn't anywhere near as easy as shielding other people along with myself. I felt the elastic recoil again as my shield fought to protect me. I had to strain to push it entirely away from me; it took all of my focus.
"Bella!" Edward whispered in shock.
I knew it was working then, so I concentrated even harder, dredging up the specific memories I'd saved for this moment, letting them flood my mind, and hopefully his as well.
Some of the memories were not clear – dim human memories, seen through weak eyes and heard through weak ears: the first time I'd seen his face... the way it felt when he'd held me in the meadow... the sound of his voice through the darkness of my faltering consciousness when he'd saved me from James... his face as he waited under a canopy of flowers to marry me... every precious moment from the island... his cold hands touching our baby through my skin...
And the sharp memories, perfectly recalled: his face when I'd opened my eyes to my new life, to the endless dawn of immortality... those first kisses... those first nights...
His lips, suddenly fierce against mine, broke my concentration.
With a gasp, I lost my grip on the struggling weight I was holding away from myself. It snapped back like stressed elastic, protecting my thoughts once again.
"Oops, lost it!" I sighed.
"I heard you," he breathed. "How? How did you do that?"
"When Stephenie was here, she opened me up to the possibility. I've been practicing ever since."
He was dazed. He blinked twice and shook his head.
"Now you know," I said lightly, and shrugged. "No one's ever loved anyone as much as I love you."
"You're almost right." He smiled, his eyes still a little wider than usual. "I know of just one exception."
He started to kiss me again, but then stopped abruptly.
"Can you do it again?" he wondered.
I grimaced. "It's very difficult."
He waited, his expression eager.
"I can't keep it up if I'm even the slightest bit distracted," I warned him.
"I'll be good," he promised.
I pursed my lips, my eyes narrowing. Then I smiled.
I pressed my hands to his face again, hefted the shield right out of my mind, and then started in where I'd left off – with the crystal-clear memory of those first nights of my new life... lingering on the details.
I laughed breathlessly when his urgent kiss interrupted my efforts again.
"Damn it," he growled, kissing hungrily down the edge of my jaw.
"We have plenty of time to work on it," I reminded him.
"Forever and forever and forever," he murmured.
"That sounds exactly right to me."
And then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever.
A/N - Thank you guys soooooo much for sticking with me this far! I hope I didn't leave anything out that should have been there. Please please please review!