This story was born from an o/s I wrote called "As Pretty as a Flower." I had been looking at a bunch of my baby pics and thought about how when you're that little you never imagine all the things that will go wrong in your lives, only the good.

Then I got to thinking about a Bella and Edward that had known each other all their lives and what would happen when that friendship is tested. This story is heartfail, you will need tissues at points, but this will be a HEA…even though you may not think so at times.

This deals with depression and self-injury, which is why the first three chapters were included in the Fandom Fights Mental Illness compilation. I plan to post once a week and will be continuing to bank chapters to see if I can keep a good update schedule on this as the chapters are so short.

Much love to Mizzdee for betaing this, as well as Rosalynn and Tkegl for their banners and the gif…I've never had a fan banner before Tkegl's which was awesome. Also, my pre-readers (another first) Tkegl and burntcore. Thanks for making this story as good as it could be.

Chapter 1 – While You Were Gone

I had been ecstatic about being selected to travel through Europe as part of a special program for artists. My portfolio had been shown in Seattle more than once and I'd even sold a few pieces.

The morning I opened the letter, I ran straight out to my car and drove to Chief Swan's to give Bella the good news. The moment I saw her laying out, trying to get a little color in the early Spring sun, I walked over to her blanket and brushed the carnation I had picked from my mother's garden against her arm, startling her awake. "You got in?" she asked.

She knew from the flower that it was good news, as I still gave her a pink carnation whenever I was coming with big news. Those flowers had celebrated many occasions and brought a smile to her face when all she wanted to do was cry. It was May 2nd and I was scheduled to fly out for London on June 22nd, which meant that we got to celebrate my 17th birthday just before I went to explore the world for a majority of the summer, studying art along the way.

Bella and I had known each other since the first day of Pre-K and I'd loved her ever since. Back in those early days we went around like boyfriend and girlfriend, but over the years the friendship that developed became so important to us that I wouldn't risk it on the chance that she didn't feel the same way.

When it was time for me to leave, I begged my parents to let Bella drive me to the airport, hoping to get up the courage to talk to her. Bella pulled up to the curb at the airport in my Volvo and helped me give my bags to the skycap, waiting as I got my ticket before I turned to her. Before I could speak, she threw her arms around me and kissed my cheek.

"Edward, I'm so proud of you," she said. "I can't believe my best friend is going to Europe for the summer to study art. You knock them dead over there and we'll all be waiting for you when you get back. Just don't forget to send me postcards and pictures and stuff."

"I won't. Love ya, Bella." The chicken in me won out as I smiled and let her go, knowing that she'd still be there when I came back and we'd have the entire Senior Year ahead of us.

Those first few days were hard on both of us as we rarely went anywhere apart. I would go with Bella when she visited Renee and we always took Bella with us on our family trips as Charlie couldn't take that kind of time off with such a small police department. We'd always been two peas in a pod, neither of us really having other friends, just classmates we'd hang out with once in a while.

I loved the eight days in England, drawing and painting constantly, sending Bella and my parents photos of my work. After the first few days in the Netherlands, I was stopped by one of the chaperones when we came home from one of the landscape classes.

"Mr. Cullen, your mother called about an hour ago, she said it was an emergency. You can use the land line and call her collect."

My heart dropped into my stomach as I walked over to the phone. Dialing my home number, I waited for the answer that seemed to take forever. When I finally heard my mother's voice, I knew whatever it was, was bad.

"Mom, its Edward. What's wrong?"

"Oh, sweetheart, thank goodness we finally got a hold of you. The day you left England, there was a big drug bust in Seattle and Charlie was working the night shift. One of the men evaded capture and was taking the back roads to get away and…" Her voice broke and I heard her take in a shaky breath. "Charlie caught him speeding and when he stopped the man, he was shot. Bella was sleeping over here that night when your father called to tell us that Charlie…he didn't make it."

I steadied myself on the counter, knowing all the things that could mean but also realizing that if it had happened five days ago, Charlie had most likely been buried and Bella had gone through it alone for the most part. "How's Bella? Is she there?"

"No, she isn't. Renee and she are packing her things up. She's going to be moving in with us so that she can graduate with the people she's known her whole life instead of heading off to a new school for her last year of high school. Renee signed the papers making us her legal guardians for the time being. Edward, I know the area you're in has bad reception, but once you make it to France, please call Bella. She's all torn up about this and I don't know how she's going to make it through this. She's too young to have to face something like this."

"Mom, I'm coming home. This is crazy; I should be there for her. I'll change my flights and be home as soon as I can after we get to France. Two days tops and I'll be landing in Seattle."

"Edward, don't. This is an amazing opportunity for you and you know Bella well enough to know that she'll blame herself if you come home early. It will be six weeks and then you'll be home. Just try to make the best of everything while you're there. Please, sweetheart, call her and let her vent some and we'll take care of her for you until you come home."

"Okay Mom, let her know I'll be calling her in two days."

"I will. Thank you Edward."

"No problem, take care of her for me. Love you."

"Love you too." I hung up the phone and went up to my room. Once I got there, I settled in and began drawing my girl. There was nothing I wanted more than to be there for her, but at the moment I was an ocean and a continent away.

When I got on the train to France, my phone finally had enough reception to answer my voicemail, but what I heard broke my heart. There were 18 messages from my parents and Bella and as each message progressed I felt even sicker, but there was still nothing I could do.

Arriving in Paris, I went to my room at the hotel and took my cell phone out, calling Bella immediately. The phone rang twice before I heard her voice.


"Bella, how are you, hon?"

Bella's tears answered my question as she sobbed into the phone. "Edward, he's gone…I don't know…I can't…" The tears won out over her thoughts and I tried in vain to calm her. After about fifteen minutes of just letting her cry, I switched my iPhone over to the camera and sent her the sketch of a carnation I had done on the train. I could hear the chime of her email and then the gasp as she opened the file. "5,000 miles away and you still manage to send me a carnation. Thank you, Edward."

"Anything for you, now I hate to do this, but I have to go. But I promise to call you soon."

"You have fun over there. I'll talk to you soon."

Over the next six weeks, I called Bella every week, but as time went on, I caught her voicemail more than her and I got fewer messages back. When I got on the plane from Athens, Greece to New York I started to get nervous as to what I'd find when I got there.

After finally landing in Seattle, my father was waiting at the airport for me. "Edward, how was Europe?"

"Great. Amazing. I'll never forget it. Where's Bella?"

My dad laughed and hugged 'his son' as we walked to baggage claim. "She's out with her friends. It seems that after a few weeks of sitting home alone she started hanging out with Alice Brandon and it has perked her up. I'm not too fond of the pink hair, but it's better that than a tattoo or something."

"Pink hair? Bella has pink hair?" My voice rose an octave as I spoke.

"Just streaks, your mother said. She did it for her." My dad shook his head as we headed for the car.

Three hours later, I was running out of my father's car and straight into the house when I saw Bella's truck out front. Sprinting up to my room, I dumped my bags and ran over to the guest room and knocked, the door flying open.

"Edward!" Bella threw her arms around my neck and kissed me, catching me off guard.

"Bella, not that I mind, but what was that?"

"That was your welcome home present. Now come out with us, we're going to a party at Emmett's house tonight."

"Since when do you party with the popular crowd?" I asked, confused by her behavior.

"Since they were the only ones here this summer." My face fell and she placed her hand on my cheek, forcing me to look at her. "I didn't mean it like that. Shit, Edward, I'm sorry. It's just they were here and they kept me from going crazy and now I want you to come out and see the things you've been missing this summer. We start school next week and I just want to enjoy the last of the summer. Please, Edward?"

I nodded. "Just let me go change."

About thirty minutes later, Bella was dragging me through the crowd until she found Alice. "Holy shit, Edward Cullen? Someone get him a drink!"

Emmett came up behind us and handed both Bella and I a beer. "Hells Bells, you brought us another one. Good to see you back, Cullen."

Bella drank the beer quickly and headed into the room where beer pong was being played. I followed and watched as she flirted with Eric Yorkie to get him to give up his spot in the next game. As she approached the table, Tyler Crowley let out a whistle and started setting up the cups on his end as she did the same.

Bella played for twenty minutes and by the end of it she had beaten Tyler and set up to play against Eric. Mike Newton headed to her side to get ready for the next game and as Bella's throws continued to go further from the table, Mike slipped in behind her and wrapped his arm around her waist as he whispered in her ear. This sent me into full caveman mode as I swept her up and took her into the living room saying good-bye to Emmett and Alice, who sat perched on Jasper's lap, and headed out to the car.

Sitting her in the front seat, I jumped in a minute later and drove off before she could get back out, the doors automatically locking as I sped up. By the time we got home, I was the only one talking in the car. "Bella, what was that?"

"That was me having fun, you know, living? I've been acting good my entire life and what did it get me? What did it get my father? Well I'm done, Edward, and from now on I'll go out without you if you're going to make a fool out of me."

"Bella, you're drunk."

"And you're an ass!" Bella got out of the front seat and walked up to the house with me following behind her.

When I reached her door I found it locked and shook my head as I went down the hall to my room. "Well, dumbass, you did it now."