Everything Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. Everything Phantom of the Opera belongs to Andrew Lloyd Weber, Charles Hart and Gaston Leroux.
Thanks to antiaol, bmango and hunterhunting for their help, commas and kind words, and eternal gratitude to JAustenLover and Durameter for their generous donation to FGB:Eclipse.
Chapter 13: Postlude
The first century of Bella Masen's new life is a whirlwind of love and learning. Of optimism and hope.
Three days after their escape, she and her mate arise from their bed for long enough to look at each other and to peer out the window at a world they had each spent so much time in hiding from.
Edward turns to her, grinning and kissing the side of her hair, marveling at the beauty of her skin there in the light. "The world can't see us," he whispers.
She is taken aback by the smile on his face.
Pressing his lips to hers, he says, "So let's go see the world."
For years, they do just that. They hunt lions in Malawi and bypass lines at the Louvre. Bella sees all the things she'd always longed for in her quiet, little life, and Edward sees the sun.
For the first time in a century, he sees the sun.
After a few decades, they receive a letter from Alice that changes all their plans. Abandoning the warmth of Mumbai for the frozen shadow of Mount Denali, they make their way across the globe and into a cozy living room beside a low-burning fire, surrounded by vampires with golden eyes.
In handwriting she now recognizes as her own, Bella explains everything from the feeling of invisibility to the cloak of blackness she maintains around both herself and her mate. The others all watch the words appear, and they all nod, but only one of them chooses to speak.
"My name is Eleazar, and I think that I can help."
It still takes years, but Bella studies relentlessly, learning her power with neither the pressure of her own expectations nor the haze of fury and fear. She learns that there is a shade of light between brightness and blackness, and she spends ages immersed in the subtleties of grey.
"I get glimmers," Eleazar tells her after a particularly exhausting afternoon of trying to reveal only as much as she wishes others to see. "Hints."
He pauses before he adds, "But there's one who sees more."
That night, she collapses onto her and Edward's bed, staring at him as she splays her hand across his cheek. "Why do you think it is?" she muses. "That you can see me but you've never been able to hear my mind?"
"I don't know," he answers carefully. "Because I've never taken my eyes off of you? Because I didn't need to hear you to know you?"
Brushing her fingers through his hair, she agrees, "You do know me."
For days, she thinks about what that means. She ponders what makes him different from everyone else, and she remembers those last few moments before his teeth met her flesh and the blackness closed in.
She remembers a moment of absolute trust.
Then, one cold, sunny morning, she stands before Eleazar, focusing on everything that he has done. She chooses to trust.
And she feels a single ray of light pierce through the darkness. She sees his smile. And when she speaks his name, he hears her voice.
The rest of the Cullens arrive a few hours later. It's not easy, but Bella finds a way to part the curtains again and again, keeping the rest of the world behind them while allowing her family to peer within. When Alice embraces her this time, it is without a single reservation, as both her eyes and arms acknowledge the solidity of the girl before them.
And a few days later, Carlisle looks both her and Edward in the eyes when he pronounces them vampire and wife.
For his part, the second century of Edward Masen's immortality is nothing like the first.
There are years during which he speaks to no one but his mate, and there are years when they scarcely leave their bed. There is sunlight and music and concerts in huge halls that they observe from front row seats, lying unseen in the aisles.
Eventually, there are family and friends.
The blood he drinks is free of pain and guilt, and it is enough to ease his thirst.
He makes music. Sometimes people hear it, and sometimes they do not.
He lives. Sometimes people see it, and sometimes they do not.
He loves. Above all else, he loves.
And there is nothing more in the world that he could want.
It's been a joy. Thank you.