I don't own Twilight, but I'm thankful to Stephenie Meyer for creating the world and its characters, and for letting us write fan fiction.
First of all, I am so very sorry for how long this has taken. It was incredibly hard to write the words that will say goodbye to these characters, and every time I tried, I just couldn't do it. Finally, I have a chapter for you, that should give you what you all seemed to hope to see in the epilogue. I have more to say at the bottom, and of course some recs for you one more time. Please, check it out, so I can thank you all.
Also, a good way to keep up with my activities, writing or otherwise, is to follow me on twitter or join the facebook group. On twitter, I'm sherriola. The facebook group is at:
http:/ www . facebook . com/groups/288431201205652/
I've often said that I couldn't do this story without Dooba, but you all need to know, that this is the literal truth, as well as that there would have been no story without her. I told her once that I thought it would be cool to explore a realistic look at how a blind person might be affected by becoming a vampire, and she encouraged me to write it. She's become one of my dearest friends, and it all started because I read her stories and reviewed, and somehow, we became friends. Thank you, Dooba, for everything. And you know how much that everything really is.
And thanks to Chris who has always helped me keep my Edward real, to Divine Inspiration who had great ideas and encouragement I needed, to Drotuno who has given me so much joy with her writing and helped me so much with the lemons in this story, and Shannon for making sure the blind things felt right, that Bella had her cane when needed and who helped catch all the times I didn't get the shift key on the apostrophe! I love you all so much with all my heart.
Now, on with the show, one more time, enjoy, Seeing Bella.
One Year Later
Everyone was in a frenzy of activity. Edward and Bella had come over from their cottage to help prepare, and Bella and Esme were working in the kitchen, cooking a great deal of food. The rest of the family was busy cleaning the already clean house from top to bottom. It was a momentous day, and they'd all been waiting eagerly for it to arrive. It was the day that Charlie and Bella would have their longed for reunion, and everyone was determined to do all they could to make it perfect.
The family had helped Bella build up her tolerance to human blood gradually. She wanted to hurry, to rush it, and often, Jasper and Carlisle had to calm her down and remind her how important it was to wait. As her control of her vision had improved, her control of her blood lust had improved with it. She had begged to be able to see Charlie, but nobody would give in to her until they were all sure she was ready.
Carlisle had brought her various things from Charlie's house till she could smell his scent without reacting with blood lust. Then he'd begun bringing home small samples of blood from the hospital, helping her become accustomed to the scent of human blood in general. They'd arranged a meeting with Emily, out in the open with the entire wolf pack and all the Cullens ranged around both women to keep Emily safe. Bella had struggled but overcome it, though Sam wouldn't let her get to hugging distance with Emily.
The final test had been when Carlisle started bringing small amounts of Charlie's blood. Bella had protested vehemently, but Charlie had told her to knock it off, that he'd do whatever it took in order to be able to see her in person again. What better way for her to prepare than to get used to the scent of his blood?
At last the time had come, and Bella could hardly wait till Charlie turned down the driveway.
"You all promise you won't leave me alone with him?" she begged, addressing the whole family.
"We promise," Carlisle said, "We will never let you hurt your father."
"And even if you seem ready to be alone with him," Jasper said, "We will be near."
"I'll never let you do anything to hurt your father, love," Edward added, stroking her hair back from her cheek, "First of all, I love Charlie like a father, you know that. But most importantly, I love you, and I will never let you down, never let you do something that would destroy you, as hurting your father would do. I won't leave your side."
"Thank you," Bella replied, "I couldn't do this without you, without any of you."
"You'll be fine, dear," Esme said.
"Do you doubt me, Bella?" Alice asked, "Everything will go perfectly. I've seen it."
Bella smiled over at Alice with relief.
"Keep reminding me."
The year since Bella's change had been full of new experiences for everyone in the family, as they helped Bella learn to see. Jasper's lessons had tapered off from the routine of the early weeks to a more casual approach, bringing the whole family into the process. After learning to read, Bella had been motivated to learn everything, and she'd sucked it all up like a sponge. She felt comfortable moving in her environment now. She could run, jump through the tree tops, swim and she never worried about running into things anymore.
Edward had even taught her to drive, which had everyone in gales of laughter. It had been her last hurdle, the thing she had been terrified to attempt, because she feared she couldn't keep track of all the nuances of driving. But Edward had been patient, and now, though Bella still preferred running, she could drive if she had to do it.
Several weeks before, Carlisle had gathered the family together to announce that it was time they started thinking about moving.
"I'm beginning to look too young for my supposed age," he explained, "And now that Bella is comfortable in her new life, the chances of someone seeing her are too great. We could never explain why she can see."
"She could pretend to be blind," Emmett suggested, "We could give her dark glasses again, and she's still got her old cane."
"She doesn't move like she can't see now," Rosalie said, "I love Forks, but I think Carlisle is right."
"If we go now," Edward said, "Bella could start college in the winter, depending on where we go. She's ready."
"I think I am ready," Bella agreed, "Well, once we get beyond me seeing Charlie of course. But I've been around humans now, and I feel I can control myself."
Carlisle looked to Jasper.
"I agree," Jasper said, "Bella can handle it. How about Dartmouth?"
Everyone laughed, for they all knew Edward wanted Bella to go to Dartmouth. He'd mentioned it to Charlie as well, and now Charlie wanted her to go to Dartmouth, too.
They'd discussed the move for several weeks, and they'd taken Bella on forays into Seattle and Portland, making sure she was comfortable around so many humans. The last and most important test would be this night. The plan was to leave for Dartmouth in the next two months, and everyone was excited to be moving on.
"We'll always be able to come back to Forks," Edward told Bella, "Sam and Carlisle amended the treaty, so that as long as our family keeps to our principles, our land is here for us. Emily and some of the other women, along with some of the Pack have agreed to keep the place in order for us. We'll be able to come to visit Charlie anytime you want."
"That makes me so happy," Bella said, "I'd hate to think we couldn't come back."
"Before we leave town," Rose said, "Why don't you get a car of your own, Bella?"
"You know, I really want to get a car," she mused, "A secret part of me always wanted to be able to drive, to have my own car, particularly some kind of sports car. Maybe, after we get moved, you and Edward can help me find the perfect one."
Edward and Rose looked elated, and even the rest of the family thought it would be fun to experience Bella car shopping. All her new experiences made the family feel like they were finding new experiences along with her.
At last, the time for Charlie's visit had arrived, and as they all moved to settle in the living room, they heard his cruiser turn down the driveway.
"He's here!" Bella leapt to her feet, pulling Edward with her and clinging to his arm.
"It will be all right," Edward soothed, "Do not worry, love."
Bella was trembling with eagerness and longing. She had missed her father dreadfully. The daily phone calls, the eventual web cam conversations were nothing compared to being able to see him for real. She wanted to hug him, to feel his strong arms around her, to feel his light kiss on the top of her head. For the first time ever, she would be able to look into his eyes, to see him smile or cry and to watch his face as he looked at her. If she could make it through this evening without hurting Charlie, Bella knew she would have everything in life she could want, and her world would be complete.
The car stopped. The door opened and shut, and they heard Charlie's footsteps moving swiftly to the porch and climbing to the front door. Bella was leaning forward, gazing at the door, as Carlisle went to answer it, just as Charlie knocked.
"Hello Charlie," Carlisle said warmly, "Come in. Bella is about to jump out of her skin with excitement."
Charlie stepped forward. He didn't realize he hadn't responded to Carlisle. He didn't notice Esme standing near, ready to greet him. His eyes were trained on the living room, and he hurried forward.
He stopped and just looked. There stood Bella, surrounded by Cullens, clinging tightly to her husband, smiling as if she could light the sky with it. She was looking toward him, no, at him, seeing him, really seeing him. Tears started rolling down as his face, as Charlie stumbled toward her, arms open.
Bella moved forward, pulling Edward with her and met Charlie. She looked at him, eyes roaming over his face, learning every tiny detail in an instant. She was greedy; she wanted to look forever.
"Bella," Charlie choked out, reaching to pull his daughter into his arms.
Bella released Edward and fell against Charlie's chest. She wrapped her arms around him, remembering to be careful of her strength, and she clung to her father, as he clung to her. How she wished she could weep with him. The joy and relief of being with her father again overwhelmed her and she cried tearless sobs.
"Daddy," she kept repeating.
Charlie and Bella stood that way for several minutes, holding each other, as the family stood near, watching.
"No blood lust at all," Jasper thought to Edward, "But there's so damn much love and happiness filling both of them, I almost think she doesn't have room for blood lust."
Edward smiled, and Jasper sent the emotions filling the room, so everyone could share in the moment.
At last, Charlie and Bella remembered they were not alone, and they broke apart. Charlie looked sheepishly around at everyone, but for once, he wasn't embarrassed at his show of emotion. He was too happy at the reunion to be embarrassed.
"Um, Dad," Bella said, "You need a haircut."
Charlie stood frozen for a moment.
"Oh my God, it's really real," he said, "You really can see!"
He started to cry again, and Bella just stood holding him, till he got himself under control.
"Come on and sit down, Dad," Bella said.
She led him to one of the couches, still holding his hand. She sat beside him, not wanting to be separated from him, and Edward took his place on her other side.
"You look so beautiful, Bells," Charlie said, dropping a kiss on the top of her head, "Pictures and those web cams don't really show the full extent of it. And seeing you see me, I can't tell you how that feels."
"I know,' Bella said, "There are times I'm still kinda blown away by the fact that I can see, though it's finally second nature to look at things now, instead of trying to touch them first. But when something new happens, like being able to see you for the first time, it hits me again that it's real."
"And you know, Chief," Emmett said, "She still does tend to look and touch, particularly when it comes to Edward."
Rose threw a pillow at her husband, who just laughed and winked at Charlie.
"I see you haven't changed much, have you?" Charlie said, pretending sternness, "Not grown up yet?"
"Sorry, gonna be this way forever," Emmett said.
Everyone settled down to talk to Charlie. They'd all visited him over the previous year, but it had never felt right till this evening. They each felt a sense of completion, seeing Charlie among them all again, watching father and daughter interact.
"Dinner is ready," Esme said, "Bella, show your father where he'll be sitting."
"You didn't have to cook just for me," Charlie said.
He felt uncomfortable, knowing that nobody but him would be eating Esme's cooking.
"Nonsense," Esme said.
"Mama bear," Charlie whispered.
Bella giggled, and Esme laughed from the kitchen.
They all sat at the table with Charlie and chatted through the meal. Carlisle told him of their plans to move to Dartmouth. Charlie had known this was the plan, but they gave him all the details. Esme described the house she'd found, which had a small guest house on the property.
"So you can come and visit anytime, Charlie," she said, "I know Bella won't be happy if you don't come often. And you'll want to see the campus where your girl will be going to college."
Bella told Charlie all about the past year, about learning to see, about dealing with vampire strength and speed. She told him some of it before, but Charlie loved hearing it all again.
After dinner, everyone but Edward left to give Charlie and Bella some time alone. They would all be near, and Alice would be constantly watching for any change in the near future. Edward had promised not to leave Bella, so he stayed beside her, enjoying just watching her with Charlie again. They talked long into the night, as if they couldn't get enough of being together again. Charlie starting yawning, trying to stifle them, but Bella noticed.
"Dad, go home," she said, "I'll be here tomorrow, and you can come back anytime now. Will you be ok to drive?"
Charlie put his arm around her and hugged her against his side.
"I'll be ok," he said, "I've had much longer days than this. I hate to leave though. I mean, I know you don't have to sleep, and it feels like wasting valuable time I could be spending with you."
"Think of it this way," she replied, "You sort of represent all of us when you sleep, since none of us can."
"That's just weird to think about," he said, "I have to work early tomorrow, but I'll come by sometime in the evening, ok?"
Arm in arm, Bella and Charlie walked to the door.
"I love you, Bella," he said, taking her shoulders and looking into her eyes, "You're changed, physically. You look more like Esme now, with the vampire things. But you're looking at me, and it's amazing. More than anything else, you're still you, my girl, and I know just how damn lucky I am to have you as my daughter. I'm so glad I know the truth, so you can stay in my life. Wherever you go, Dartmouth or anywhere, you'll never go too far for me. I'll be there anytime or any place you need me."
"I love you too, Dad," she whispered, hugging him again, "Thank you for accepting us, accepting me this way, and loving me no matter what."
"That's what dads are for," he said, "There's nothing you could do, or be, that would ever make me love you less or be less proud of you."
Charlie kissed her cheek and tightened his hold on her briefly. He turned to Edward, squeezing his shoulder.
"You've done good with her, son," he said, "You've lived up to all my faith in you and made her happy. Keep it up."
Bella and Edward stood hand in hand, watching as Charlie got into his car. He waved at them as he drove away.
"Well done," Carlisle said, joining Edward and Bella, "You were impressive this evening, Bella."
"Yeah, she was," Jasper agreed, "You didn't need me at all. It was like the minute you saw him, all your good feelings toward your dad took over and any normal blood lust was pushed away."
"Damn, Bellarina," Emmett said, "You were sitting for a long time, pressed against him. That should be hard for most vampires, but you didn't flinch or hold your breath or anything."
"I didn't even notice," Bella said, "I was just so glad to see my dad again and didn't remember that it could be a problem. I've missed him so much, and then he was there, and that was all that mattered."
"We're all so proud of you," Esme said, "You're very strong."
"Shall we go for a quick hunt?" Edward asked his wife, "Once you unwind from this evening, you might feel the need of it, so why don't we go now?"
"Let's all go," Emmett suggested.
"No, we're staying home," Rose said, "I have plans for you."
She gave Emmett a sultry look, and he forgot about hunting.
Alice grinned, having a flash of the night ahead for Edward and Bella.
"Um, let's all let them go hunt alone," she said, "Have fun you two."
Alice gave Bella a wink and, taking Jasper's hand, drifted away.
"Goodnight both of you," Esme said.
Carlisle smiled at them and walked away.
Edward and Bella sped across the yard, leaped over the river and ran deep into the woods. Bella was ecstatic, and in a moment of uninhibited enthusiasm, she twirled in the path and launched herself at Edward.
"I did it!" she shouted, wanting the world to hear, "I did it! Edward, oh I did it!'
"Indeed you did," he said, catching her in his arms and spinning her in a circle, "I am so proud of you."
She wrapped her arms and legs around him, laughing with joy.
"I was so scared," she said, "Terrified I'd hurt him, or he wouldn't like the new me or anything. But it was wonderful, and I'm so happy. And it's all because of you!"
She kissed him passionately, fiercely, trying to let her body show him how much she felt.
Edward laughed out loud, returning the kiss with equal fervor. He was so proud of her, so thrilled with her success, and all he wanted to do at that moment was throw her on the ground and make love to her right there.
Bella slid her body down his, slowly, making sure she touched every part of him.
"Catch me," she laughed over her shoulder and turned and raced away down the path.
"You minx," Edward called after her.
Bella's laughter rang through the woods; her hair blew back from the breeze of her run. She was happy, happier than she'd ever dreamed she could be. How could she have imagined, all those months ago when she decided to move to Forks, that moving to Forks would change her life? Everything she'd ever dreamed of having, everything she'd ever wanted, had walked into her life, when she'd met her Edward.
She knew enough about people's looks now to know that he was handsomer than any other man could be. But Bella had not been distracted by his looks, because she'd met him when she was blind. She'd fallen for his heart and soul, for the kindness and gentleness, for his strength intelligence. For the way he touched her, for the words he said, for the way he loved her, for everything he was inside.
Now Charlie was back in her life, and there wasn't one thing more she could want. She was ready to start her new life, moving on to college, traveling to see the word, her horizons ever expanding, because her life, her future, it was all limitless. Edward would be at her side through it all, as she would be standing beside him. Two people who felt they didn't quite fit in with the rest had somehow found each other and together, she and Edward had created their own paradise, where they would live and love every day of the rest of their eternity.
Edward watched her as she ran. He let her run ahead, though he could easily overtake her. As always, he was mesmerized with everything about her. He watched how her skin seemed to shine in the starlight. He reveled in the sound of her uninhibited laughter. She was beauty, but she was so much more than that.
She had saved him. He'd been lonely, brooding, when she'd walked into his life. He'd been deeply unhappy, wondering how he could survive the weight of the endless years of time ahead. Then Bella had come, and nothing had ever been the same. She was his heart, his soul, the very meaning of his existence. With her all-encompassing love and acceptance, she'd brought light and joy into his dark and empty world. Wherever they went in the future, Edward knew that their love would be the rock on which they would build their forever. With Bella he had found the peace that had been missing from his life, and he would never cease to be thankful for every moment they shared.
Edward sped up and took Bella in his arms.
"My Bella, my life my love," he said, "Thank you."
"For coming here. For being who you are. For loving and accepting me, when it was still so hard for me to love and accept myself. I love you, and I will love you every minute of the rest of my life, however long that may be."
Bella took his face in her hands and kissed him softly.
"I love you, Edward," she whispered, as she kissed him, "Forever."
They stood in the path, kissing, touching, whispering soft words. At last, Bella let go, and reaching to take his hand, she smiled seductively at him.
"Take me home and make love to me," she said.
"My lady," Edward said, with a bow, "Your wish, my command."
Hand in hand, they ran toward home. Edward remembered back to a night, not quite two years before. Alice had her first vision of Bella's arrival, but Edward didn't know what was about to happen to him. He'd gone running that night, to get away from his isolation, and he'd longed for someone to run beside him, lamenting that he had to run alone.
No more, he thought, I never have to be alone again.
Together, Edward and Bella ran into the night, into their future.
I can't thank all of you enough for sticking with me through everything in this story. I started in late December 2010, and some of you have been with me since the beginning. Some of you have read and reviewed every chapter, and some have read and enjoyed without reviewing, and that's really ok. After the first couple chapters, I stopped asking for reviews, but you all kept them coming anyway. This last time, I'm going to ask you to review. Tell me what you like about the epilogue, but tell me what you like about the whole story. Who was your favorite character? What was your favorite part? Lay it on me. It's your chance to be heard.
You've all made this an incredible experience. I've written all my life pretty much, but this was the first time I put something of mine out there in the world, where complete strangers would read and comment on my words. It's terrifying, particularly when your dream is to be a writer. And you've all given me encouragement beyond what I can ever explain. Whatever happens in my future writing life, I owe so much to all of you. Thank you for believing in me, trusting me to tell you a story and for loving my characters so much.
As for future, I have ideas for a sequel and another story or two. I have a major project right now that has all my focus, but keep me on author alert, so when I do start the next fan fiction, you'll be ready to take the journey with me again.
I want to encourage you all to check out my profile page and look at my favorite stories list. There are many stories listed there that I haven't mentioned here. I've tried to stick to vampire stories with a few human ones for these recs, but my favorite lists has all kinds, as well as some in other genres. Enjoy. One last time, here's my recs for you.
Serenity's Prayer, by Ladylibre
New Moon AU, in which Bella turns the tables on Edward during his break up speech in the woods. And then how things change as a result!
http:/www . fanfiction . net/s/7630525/1/Serenitys_Prayer
The Keepsake, by Windchymes
Some things you never forget, they just hurt too much to remember. A canon based memory loss story with a fantastic twist! This author writes nothing bad, and this story has me in tears and smiles with every chapter.
http:/www . fanfiction . net/s/7562914/1/The_Keepsake
As Children After Play, by Cris
Warning, this is a bad Charlie story, the only one I've read that I really really like. But it may be hard for the Charlie lovers out there to handle. However, the story is strong and well written with complicated characters, brokenness, healing, growth. Give it a chance.
http:/ www . fanfiction . net/s/6142143/1/As_Children_After_Play
And one last one:
The Sound of Silence, by besotted
All Human, with a deaf Bella. This story is amazing. It depicts the life of a person who is deaf with the realism and believability that I've tried to put into Seeing Bella, and of a story I mentioned earlier, Impact. It's EPOV, and this Edward is sweet and wonderful. Bella is real and wonderful, and we learn much through her world. I've been planning to rec this one for a long time.
http:/www . fanfiction . net/s/7592750/1/