I feel as though I keep a running letter to you in my head and I wonder if I'll ever write it down. Probably not; sometimes the things in my head lose a little in the translation. There just aren't enough words, or if there were, they wouldn't mean the same things to anyone else. So maybe I'll keep them to myself for just a while longer.
It's hard to separate the two of you sometimes… the Bella before I jumped back in time and the Bella that escaped that horrible night. There'll be times when my thoughts are waiting on the tip of my tongue… 'do you remember when we…' and I'll have to pause because it's a memory that she doesn't have. Will never have.
And there are so many beautiful memories of you, Firefly. I keep them close to my heart. Every shy glance, every smile that flashed across your face, all the more precious because I feel as if I fought tooth and nail for them. Things happened the way they were supposed to happen, I know, but sometimes I'll wake in the middle of the night, open my eyes and watch you sleeping next to me in our bed. The very same bed where you whispered your deepest secrets, where you cried as you let me see all the shattered parts that you'd tried to repair yourself. Without love, friends or family, without any sort of support at all.
The same bed where I held you before you left me sleeping at sunrise, to wash away the monsters in your head. It's hard not to wish I'd never gone to sleep that night, to save you the pain of dying so young, of what you must have gone through out there alone. To save myself the pain of losing you. But I've made my peace with that.
I do wish I could have told you that everything happens for a reason. Before we went to sleep on that last night together I would have whispered of a life, maybe not completely free of pain, but a life brimming with hope. A life with possibilities, where you weren't shackled with fear or held captive by memories that left circles under your eyes. A life that held everything you ever wanted. I would have shown you what I see now, every single day. I would have kissed you and told you that it would all be worth it in the end.
But you know this already, don't you? You're there inside the sweet girl I married, the love of my life. I hope she never needs you, but I'm comforted by knowing that such a strength lies deep within her heart. I'll never understand all you endured, but I know enough to be inspired by how you lived your life, your capacity for love and forgiveness.
So you see, I owe you everything, beautiful girl. You taught me so much. Humility and kindness. How to be brave. You taught me how to love completely and without reason, enough to find you again when you needed me most.
A little girl plays on your beach now, with long dark hair that she sweeps impatiently out of her eyes when the wind picks up. She dreams of mermaids and fairies and hides in the roses we planted together in the garden. She's smart and beautiful and prone to giggling. Sometimes she'll look at your father's sketch and ask how Grandpa Charlie knew what she looked like so many years before she was born.
Looking back now, I can finally see how the pieces fit together. We never would have created our daughter that morning, had we not been so swept up, forgetting all sanity and reason after being separated for more than a month. And because of that, the tiny new life growing inside saved you weeks later.
I used to think it was fate that sent me back but now I'm not so sure. Maybe it was something I did all on my own, or maybe there were other, unseen forces at work pushing and pulling us in some epic battle of good and evil. That sounds unbelievable perhaps, but no more unbelievable than jumping through time. I don't think we'll ever know, and I've made my peace with that too.
"Daddy?" A soft, sweet voice.
"Hey, Butterbean." He pulled her in for a hug, her skin warm from the sun, hair still wet from her swim. "You ready to go in?"
"Yeah-huh. Mama's wavin at you from th' house." She looked down at her feet and wiggled them in the sand. Every toenail a different color. "I'm pretty sure she wants some choc'la chips, Daddy. Pretty sure 'bout dat."
"Oh really?" He lifted his sunglasses. "And what's she gonna do with those chocolate chips?"
"Cookies?" Her hopeful answer made him grin.
"Well, that sounds good to me. Let's go see your Mama and see if you're right." As she squealed and dashed off he called her back. "Hold on— grab your shoes and we'll go see Mrs. Cope."
"'kay! Imma race you, Daddy!"
He let her win, his steps to the house slowing, his heart beating just a bit faster at the beauty that was his wife waiting for the little girl to fly into her arms.
Bella scooped her up, kissed her on the nose. "Hey, sweetheart."
And the girl patted her mommy sweetly on the cheek, echoing the words she'd heard her daddy say so many times. "Hey, m'Firefly Love you."
Thank you to faireyfan and les16. :)
In case you're confused, Edward really does consider Firefly and Bella to be the same person. Hence his interchanging of "she and you"... there's just a side of his wife that he will know better than anyone else, even her.
The reviews for the last chapter were simply and wonderfully, overwhelming. Thank YOU for reading. And now I can hit that "complete" button.