A/N A part of this was written long ago for a contest on ADF (A Different Forest) The contest was for Pg13 fics with a 1,000 word limit. I've extended it, and it no longer has a Pg13 rating. *Aleeab4u write Pg13? Pfft...perish the thought!*

Disclaimer - Stephanie Meyer owns it all. No copyright infringement intended or implied.


For gammeee. May this touch your heart and brighten your day. May the words aid you in some small way in your healing, for my thoughts are with you. Be well. xo


The Gift of Home

. . . . . .

50 years post BD

. . . . . .

Some things never change...

. . . . . .

Mould. Mildew. Rot. Rust. Each distinguishable scent mingles together in a miasma that blends imperfectly with the more pleasant smells of grass and weeds growing in rampant abundance outside. A lush, green top note to the desecrated remains of my old home.

Standing there in my old bedroom, in front of my old window, with dozens of hazy, human memories flitting without clarity through my mind, I'm not who I was.

Fifty years is a very long time, and Thomas Wolfe said it better than I can. "You can't go home again..." Yet I'd been compelled to try, wanting comfort and familiarity.

The cracked and broken glass in the window is nearly opaque from years of neglect and the battering, endless Forks rain. My reflection stares back, as hazy as my memories in its appearance.

Look closely and you'll think I haven't changed. Look closer and you'll see I have changed completely.

Those smells of decay and verdant new life battle for supremacy and lose to the far more alluring smell of him. Of us. Of the love we've just made on the rotting floor boards right where I'd once slept, decades ago.

We'd stepped into the room and I'd wanted him, ached for him, just as I had then.

Some things never change...

Then again, we'd never done that here, so some things do, thankfully, change.

I feel Edward's fingers ghost down my spine, one unbreakable vertebrae at a time, before he slides his arms around my waist. In the cupped hand he holds in front of me is a present wrapped in satiny blue paper, adorned with a swirling white bow.

"Happy Birthday, Bella," he breathes in my ear, the cascade of his breath a caress on my skin.

"I thought we agreed no presents."

"Perhaps you agreed," he hums in response, his words more vibration than sound. "But I did no such thing."

I scowl at the box and then up at the window, knowing he can see my reflection. Always he finds a way to break my no gift rules. I should be used to it by now.

"Some things never change," he laughs, the soft sound conveying his amusement and frustration with my lingering loathing of presents. "Open it," he encourages.

I sigh to let him know my displeasure even as I obligingly tug the decadent ribbon free and lift the lid. Inside, nestled in black satin, is a scuffed, rusty house key. Not any house key. My old house key. I lift it out, the metal that had once felt solid now feeling as malleable to my touch as sun-warmed toffee. I discern the obvious smells of brass and nickel plating, but underneath, I swear I catch the lingering, faint scent of Charlie.

My Father. Long gone and turned to dust in his grave.

I miss him so very much...

The pain of his loss even 36 years after the fact is still a knife in my silent heart, though I bear it as I have so many others. Loss is simply a part of me now. I do not change, but the world spins relentlessly on around me, day by day, minute by minute, stealing away all I once held dear. Places, things...people.

Another ghost-like memory grudgingly takes shape in my mind.

I see myself as I used to be, reaching above the door to this house, clumsy, human fingers scrabbling for the key resting on the topmost ledge. It's cold in my hand and slippery with moisture, making me fumble and drop it, then pick it back up. It glides into the key hole and with a twist and a practiced jiggle, the lock snicks back, and the door swings open. Warmth and familiarity tumble out. The sounds of a baseball game on TV, the smells of cooking and lemon furniture polish and...home.

Charlie had left me the house in his will, but I hadn't come back to claim it. How could I? I'd assumed the house had been swallowed up by the legal system. I'd been mostly content to let it happen, certain that the past should remain the past, but apparently Edward hadn't felt the same.

He places the empty box on the dirt encrusted window sill and wraps his arms around me, securing my back to his chest and my bottom to the cradle of his pelvis. The fit is perfect, and my skin rejoices even as my highly capable vampire mind struggles to process this one simple thing - this priceless thing he's given me. As though my former humanity has come out to play, I'm left gaping and uncertain.

"How?" I manage to whisper. "I thought..."

"There are ways around all things," he answers. "It took some time. It's been lost in the system for years. Probate courts are sadly overburdened, and one empty unclaimed home slipped easily under the radar."

Purposely done if his tone is any indication. Pushed aside and buried for nearly four decades until such a time when it could be fleshed back out and quietly, unobtrusively, re-purchased. After all, Isabella Cullen nee Swan no longer exists. No one knows what happened to her, she simply vanished along with her husband after her father's death, and no one cared. Anyone who would have cared was gone as well; more dust in the ground.

I turn in Edward's arms, and press my face to his chest, overwhelmed in a way I haven't been since my newborn years. Within seconds that feeling fades and is replaced by peace. Once again Edward has given me something of great worth.

An anchor. Roots. A physical reminder of who I was and where I came from. The very place I ended and we began. Our impossible love made possible right here under this sagging roof and these crumbling walls.

I want to push away my shield, and show him in my mind what his gift means to me, but the emotions are too strong and I cannot get my grasp. I swallow venom and rise on tiptoe to kiss him.

"I love you," I whisper fervently. As always his sweet breath and presence make me nearly insane with the need to get closer. My fists clench in his hair, and my unnecessary breathing is quick and loud.

Some things never change...

Then Edward is kissing me back in a way he never could have before, as eager to get close as I am, and I can't help but smile.

Thankfully, some things change...

His hands smooth over me and guide us back down to the floor, the rough, bare boards long since stripped of the carpet that had covered them. To the left, I can see the lose board where once Edward had hidden the memories he thought I would be better off without.

As though he senses my distraction, he drags one finger up my inner thigh, smiling wickedly when I hiss and turn back to him. That clever finger moves upwards until it meets the place my thighs join, and my hiss turns to a soft moan.

"I used to imagine making love to you here," he says quietly as he watches me writhe against his touch. "While you slept and dreamt of things your silent mind would not share, I imagined it time and time again." He lowers his head and teases my mouth with his, licking another moan from my lips, coaxing a sharp cry of pleasure when his teeth scrape against them, and his finger steals inside of me.

Clever, so clever that finger. It knows precisely what I need, exactly where to stroke, to press. How to retreat and return until I'm panting, just like I would have if I were still human and we were truly making love on the floor of this bedroom a half century ago.

"I would have had to be so careful," he breathes, his breath as sweet and mesmerizing now as it had been then. "So very careful." His movements slow to an almost painful and torturous pace, barely there and yet so sweet. My thighs fall open and my hips rise, seeking more. He denies me the contact I crave, pinning me with his weight. I've long since lost my newborn strength that could best him decades ago. Now I am his equal, but I'm more than happy to be weaker than he is once again in this moment if he wants me to be.

His gaze falls to watch the magic he creates with his touch. "So wet, so soft, so perfect," he groans. His thumb circles my clit with the lightest touch. A touch so light I haven't felt it since our honeymoon, though it's different now. My sensitive, immortal body feels everything so much more distinctly, and this light, teasing touch is beyond exquisite, calling on memories and creating new ones all at once. "So beautiful. I want to watch you come like this," Edward groans. "Can you come like this, love?"

My answer is a cry that reverberates off crumbling plaster, damp-rot walls and opaque, cracked glass. Around a room that is barren and desolate in appearance, yet full of the ghosts of our past, an energy I can feel, the echo of who I used to be mingling in with the cry of release my new self emits.

Edward moves over me and in me. Hard and fast, and no longer gentle; he takes me the way he now can. Without care, without fear, and just like that the Bella of the past is gone and it's just us, awash in our lust and the need that has never waned, even after all this time.

I lift my hips, and he snarls my name, lowers his mouth to my throat and bites down. Not to drink but to claim and to mark, to pin me and hold me still for each pounding thrust and invasion of his body into mine.

I ache and arch and scream, coming around him in a second release more powerful than my first while he growls a triumphant yes against my skin. Skin that burns with the sting of his mark and his venom, his fierce, unchecked possession.

"Mine," he groans as his licks the wound that only his teeth could create, soothing the sting that is already fading. "Forever mine."

One hand claws at his back while the other digs for purchase in the floor boards. They splinter and turn to dust in my curling fingers as his hips drive us down, cracking the wood and making the walls tremble. The ceiling bathes us in a shower of white dust as cracks widen in its surface.

His movements slow in reaction, become tender once again. Our bodies are unbreakable, but the neglected walls surrounding us are not.

He chuckles in my ear. "Best not break your birthday present, love."

I smile, arch languidly and run my teeth over his neck. His laugh ends in a groaning growl. I find the place his pulse once would have beat and trace it with my tongue. He loses his rhythm and breathes out, almost but not quite a whimper. My legs lock around his hips, pinning him to me, making it impossible to move in any way except shallow and slow, once again reminiscent of how he used to have to move.

"Bella," he groans.

"You said you used to imagine making love to me here. Show me," I whisper.

He rises above me, bracing his forearms beside my head, his hands cradling my face with an expression so tender it instantly makes me ache. His thumb caresses my mouth, and I lave it with my tongue, biting down on the pad of it gently, the way I would have if I was still human.

"Show me," I whisper, only now it's a plea.

His head lowers, and he breathes out against my mouth, brushing his lips against mine, feather light and oh so gentle. His breath feels warm to me now, but I remember when it felt cool like a crisp, cinnamon-scented breeze. I feign a shiver as he begins to move. It feels like we're underwater, this slow, shallow, so-good-rocking.

I try to move up against him because it feels like heaven, and I can't help but want more. His reaction is a low growl, a wicked erotic little hiss, and his hands move to pin my hips to the cracked floor.

"Easy, little love, easy. I don't want to hurt you. Let me lead, don't move."

I freeze, memories flitting through my mind, the echo of those words triggering images of a white bed and a tropical breeze - hot, muggy air and cold, perfect skin.

All my nerve endings rise to the surface of my skin, throbbing with perfect sweet pleasure as he rocks a little faster, a little firmer. I pant and moan and whisper his name because I want to show him, even now, what those nights on that island meant to me.

Edward soothes one hand over my thigh, rocking, rocking, rocking... His eyes lock with mine, dark as midnight. In an instant I'm there, right there on the edge, the remembered pleasure blending with the right now pleasure as I feel him, so softly, gliding, so gently riding, binding us in this moment just as he had the first time, and every time, and...oh...oh...oh...

The bliss takes me under, surrounds me and lifts me until I'm helpless to do anything but let it take me. Edward's groan of approval is a soft brush of air over my lips. The words, the sinful praise, carry an echo of that first time, though my human mind could not appreciate it the way my vampire mind can. The two feelings mesh, past and present coalesce, rapturous awe and the sweetest acceptance.

"Yes, Bella, yes. God, yes. So beautiful. Come, love...come for me."

I feel him let go only an instant later, his hands finding purchase on the window ledge above us, his hips locking to mine as he lets go with a deep throaty groan, nearly shaking with the restraint he continues to use, for me, for us, for who we were and who we are now.

He chuckles again as he lets go of the crumpled wood, a rainfall of splinters and old flakes of paint falling down around us. I smile against his gentle kisses that likewise rain down on my face.

"If we don't stop, these walls will most likely fall down around us." He murmurs, even as his hips surge against mine again.

I tangle my fingers in his hair, tugging to get his lips to mine. "We'll put up new ones."

. . . . . .

Later, much later, we stand in the room that used to be the kitchen. Years of neglect have taken their toll, but the bones of the house are still good, although the walls bear a few more cracks now. I run my hand over one, smiling when I hear Edward laugh low and seductive.

"What will you do with your present, love?"

I run fingers over the rusty sink faucet and over the edges of a cupboard door sagging in its hinges, shrugging, uncertain. The practicalities of our lives now come crashing back down around me. We have several homes all over the world, but we hardly need one here.

No, here is not a place we can return to.

Maybe Jake and Renesmee...? But no. That's not possible either.

You can't go home again...

It's been a nice trip down memory lane, but the past is the past, best to leave it here.

I am not who I was.

Edward's fingers glide along the nape of my neck, a loving caress that instantly reminds me of who I am now. He brushes the hair from my shoulder, and I smile at him.

"I was thinking we could hire some contractors, fix it up. It would make a wonderful home for someone from the relocation program in Rose and Esme's women's shelter." I glance around and let all the memories float over me. Gossamer ghosts that I know I can take with me when I leave. "I think this would make a great home for a fresh start, a new beginning. There is a lot of love here, you can still feel it."

Edward's arm slips around my waist, his lips touching the top of my head. I can feel his smile. His breath parts the strands of my hair like a secret caress.

"I think that's a wonderful idea," he replies.

Taking my hand, he gives a gentle tug and I follow him as he leads us out of the house.

I pause just outside to reach up and place the key on the ledge above the broken old door. Edward squeezes my fingers and we turn and walk away, out of the past and into the future.

I don't look back.

. . . . . .