Disclaimer: Anything Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer
Epilogue – Scars And Souvineers
It was a warm sunny day, just right for an afternoon spent outside and Edward stood by the open living room doors as he watched the fun going on further down the garden. Lucy was giggling constantly and that alone was enough to bring the smile to Edward's face but the sight of her running around happily with Anna as Carlisle, Emmett, Garrett, Alice, Jasper, Peter, Rose, Renee and Phil all joined in their game of rounders was enough to make his smile grow so much it almost hurt.
He had been watching them for a while, happy to see Lucy being the centre of attention as he thought she should be despite the fact it was his own birthday party. So far he had been left in peace, everyone just glad to see him happy and all too eager to join in when the girls had asked to play. Esme, Elizabeth and Bella were also around although since they all needed food at some point they had retreated to the kitchen a while ago. Elizabeth's presence was the only aspect of the day Edward had had any say in, the rest he had left in the very capable hands of Bella, Lucy, Esme and Alice. He hadn't really had much interest in a party at all but everyone else had been in the mood to celebrate and when Esme and Bella had once found out that he had entirely ignored his last birthday altogether he had known he was beaten before he had even tried to argue. Now he was glad he had let them arrange it as after the ups and downs of the last couple of months it seemed they were all enjoying letting off some steam.
James' trail had been and gone resulting in him spending the next thirty five years in jail. He had been found guilty of both counts of attempted murder and as the judge had not been feeling at all sympathetic towards him after the details of the trail had been gone over he had received the maximum sentence for each. The trail had turned out to be tough on all of them though as their witness statements had lead to them going over things in great detail that they would rather have forgotten altogether. Bella's nightmares had returned with a vengeance and along with her college exams it hadn't been a good mix. Thankfully the appointment Carlisle had set up for her with a counselor had been able to help and after just the first few appointments she had finally been able to sleep so seeing the marked improvement in the dark circles under her eyes and her mood Edward had decided to follow her lead much to everyone else's relief.
It hadn't been easy, he disliked talking to a stranger about things he didn't much like thinking about full stop but in the end he had to admit that it had helped. Not only had it got him through the trail without him turning into a sleepless shell of himself but it had helped him come to terms with everything that had happened to him much more effectively. That had in turn managed to improve things considerably between himself and Emmett as with the stress of the trail getting to Edward it had shortened his temper even further than usual. That had unfortunately caused their relationship to remain volatile even after Edward's apology and desire to get on again and despite everyone else's best efforts at steering conversations away from trouble. He doubted they would ever forget what had happened but they could now at least spend time together without it turning into an argument which they all deemed a success.
The other major change the trail had bought about was Elizabeth. She had been there throughout the court case, sitting at the back of the gallery by herself. They had all seen her but no one had really known how to react to her presence. Esme had still been unable to bury her anger towards her sister as well as being worried about Edward's reaction should they try to interact with her which went for Emmett and Alice as well. She had looked to be ok, the bruising on her eye long gone and her clothes well put together once more so no one had felt the need to risk angering Edward to enquire how she was doing. Edward though had not felt the same. He had found his gaze drawn to her at times and while he had waited to feel the anger everyone else seemed to think should be there all he had actually felt was curiosity and sadness.
On the last day of the trail, after they had watched both James and Victoria receive life sentences, they had exited the court room to find Elizabeth standing there, worrying at the strap of her bag as she watched them all file into the corridor looking like a deer trapped in headlights. They had all paused, it was obvious she had been waiting for them and while no one seemed to know what to say Edward had looked around the worried faces of his family before turning to Bella who was holding his hand. She had smiled at him before letting go and gently nudging him forward. That had been all the encouragement he had needed to go to his mother and pull her into a hug. They had a lot to sort through, but if she was there and looking to them, he wasn't going to turn her away. She had given up everything she had known and endangered herself in a last attempt to save him which in the end had turned out to be incredibly successful and he was thankful to her for it.
It had been a little awkward at first, the rest of the family still hadn't totally warmed to her presence but Edward liked having her around. It wasn't the same as it used to be, she was fairly withdrawn around them all, always looking like she was waiting for them to turn her away but Edward kept inviting her back and had insisted that if he was having a party she had to be on the guest list. Even now he was a little worried how she would be getting on with Esme who still seemed to be having the most trouble forgiving her sister but Bella was with them which put his mind at ease as Bella was the complete opposite. She had taken to her instantly, something he was sure came from the night they had spent together sitting by his hospital bed.
A cheer sounded from down the bottom of the garden and Edward refocused his attention to see that Anna had just run around the last two bases to make it home. At his last count, that put the girls in the lead, something that amused him as they were playing boys versus girls and while the girls had a five and six year old on their team and the boys were all fully grown adults, he didn't think the boys were intentionally throwing the game to let them win. Emmett was not going to be happy when Lucy got around to celebrating their win if it kept up that way and he was quite looking forward to it since they had all been present for Lucy's gloating after the rounds of monopoly she had grown so fond of playing with Bella and himself. They had yet to beat her even with Bella's best attempts at preventing him from caving to Lucy's trade requests.
As he watched the guys try to regroup he couldn't help but think about how different the day had turned out to anything he could have imagined a year ago. It had been years since he had even bothered to celebrate his birthday and during his last one he would never have dreamed that just a year later the game going on in front of him could even be possible. It was overwhelming, a feeling he was beginning to become accustomed to since Esme and Carlisle had taken them in. Everything with them was always so much more than he could ever have imagined, but instead of being wary and uncomfortable he was steadily getting better at just accepting what they offered and being grateful for their care. It had been hard to adjust; he was so used to having to do everything for himself and finding ways to struggle through when things were hard. He hadn't liked feeling like his life was sliding out of his control and he now knew how awkward it had been for everyone to watch him struggle with it so he was glad he could finally understand that they were not trying to take over, but instead just offering the help he needed. Discovering his aptitude for doing the shops paperwork had helped. Being able to do that from home had enabled him to feel like he was at least doing something and not totally having to rely on others. That, along with the counselor and the piano had all been big turning points in his attitude. He now found it much easier to accept Esme and Carlisle's help with everything else and the house had been a much happier place for it. He had even managed to gracefully accept the driving lessons they had gifted him for his birthday that morning and the promise of a car when he passed his test, despite the exuberant cost.
"You ok? You've been standing there a while."
Bella's voice pulled him out from his musings and he turned his head to find her standing next to him, eying the way he was standing critically.
"I'm fine, come here." He answered, reassuring her with his smile as he got his arms around her waist and tugged her back against him so he could nuzzle into her neck, laying a gentle kiss there.
"You should be sitting down." She half heartedly chastised as she relaxed against him. It had been a crazy day with all the party preparations and it felt good to let him hold her for a minute or two.
"I've spent the last couple of months doing nothing but sitting down. I'm ok for a while longer. I promise I'll find a seat when I need to." He murmured, lifting his head back up as he heard Lucy be called up for her turn to bat. He had only been up and about on crutches for a couple of weeks so it was understandable that Bella would worry but he was still enjoying the newfound ability to stand. The cast was off and although his leg was still encased in a brace it allowed him to get around much easier. He did still tire quickly though causing the leg to ache and everyone to worry if he seemed to be trying to use it too much.
"Make sure you do, you don't want to mess up its healing and let those driving lessons go to waste." Bella teased, glancing back over her shoulder at him and seeing him grimace slightly at her words but he let it go and cheered for Lucy instead as her bat connected with the ball and she started running. The driving lessons after all did mean that in the long run he would have more independence as he wouldn't have to rely on everyone else for lifts to take Lucy to school and to get to work. He just had to keep reminding himself of that rather than focusing on how much it must be costing his Aunt and Uncle.
"Who's winning?" Bella asked as she too watched Lucy get a home run, cheering for her when she passed the last base.
"The girls." Edward answered happily making Bella laugh.
"Oh Emmett's going to love that." She commented before noticing with amusement one of the other guys who looked less than pleased, "I see Carlisle does too, I didn't expect him to be the competitive type."
"No, me neither." Edward agreed, spotting his Uncle who was scowling as the girls celebrated Lucy's run. Celebrations over with, Rosalie took her turn at batting so Edward returned his attention to Bella. "How are things in the kitchen?"
"Good, they were talking when I came out to check on you." She answered knowing he would be thinking about his mother, "You don't have to worry you know, they'll sort it out with time."
"I know, still can't help it though." He returned as he didn't want anything to scare Elizabeth away. He liked having her around despite all the awkwardness and he felt more than a little sorry for her. No one had heard anything from his father since the night Elizabeth had provoked him and though he couldn't be sorry about not having to see him again, it also meant that she was all on her own, something she had never had to experience up until that point. Knowing how terrible loneliness had made him feel he hated the idea of his mother going through that but any offers to help her had been turned down instantly. She seemed determined to stand on her own two feet and get her life in order so she had found herself a small flat and was job hunting, remaining firm in her decision to leave all the money Edward Senior had earned their family to the kids. Edward couldn't fault her for wanting to do it by herself so instead he was just trying to make sure she knew she was welcome to visit and was inviting her to do so as often as he could.
"Esme knows how much you like having Elizabeth here and secretly I think she likes it too, she's just not quite ready to let that show. She's got a lot more to forgive her for than you. Now stop worrying, this is your twenty first birthday party, you're meant to be having fun." Bella scolded, turning in his arms so she could drape hers around his neck, instantly chasing the worry out of his face as he smiled at her.
"I am, even more so now." He commented as he leant down the couple of inches needed to kiss her. The physical side of things was definitely one of the best points of agreeing to see a counselor. They still hadn't pushed things too far but he could now enjoy kissing her and the feeling of her body against his own without freaking out over how it made him feel and he certainly enjoyed testing his limits with it, something Bella didn't seem opposed to at all. Now he was up on his feet again he was looking forward to being able to take her out on a proper date and really start moving things forward in their relationship.
A tennis ball lightly bouncing off his head eventually reminded him that they were not on their own and he reluctantly pulled away from a vividly blushing Bella to see Renee holding a hand over both Lucy and Anna's eyes and grinning at the pair of them, along with everyone else, their game apparently over. Hearing everyone's laughter at their embarrassment from being caught getting carried away and wanting to see what was going on, Lucy ducked away from Renee. On seeing Bella's blush and the bright smile on her daddy's face she guessed what they had been doing as It had become a pretty regular occurrence any time they were left alone for more than five minutes and rolled her eyes before running towards Edward to tell him they had won and that she was hungry. He picked her up for a hug and as everyone else joined them and they headed for the kitchen he knew he couldn't have wished for a better birthday.
The last five years had been the hardest of his life and he would always carry the scars from them but with Lucy in his arms, Bella by his side and their family surrounding him, he wouldn't have changed them. The scars had led him to the people who meant the world to him and for that he would always be thankful.
AN - So there we have it! It feels weird to finally be finished writing this story, I've been doing it for so long and had so many points where it didn't feel like I'd ever manage to finish it. A massive thank you goes to everyone who has read this, especially to those of you who have been with me since the day I posted the very first chapter, without your comments I never would have finished this.
I hope I haven't disappointed you with where it ended, it was where it was always meant to finish even with the two year gap of being unable to write it. That being said, there may be a few future takes if inspiration strikes me again, so if you're interested in those make sure you keep this on story alert as I've no idea when I'll get those done.
Once again, thank you! I'm so grateful that you have taken the time to read my story. I hope you have enjoyed it :)