Disclaimer: Owned and operated by Stephenie Meyer.
Well, here it is: the last chapter. I hope you enjoyed the story. I certainly enjoyed writing it! Thanks for all the reviews; you people are awesome! Especially to those of you that I couldn't reply to!
I said I'd get back around to canon, didn't I?
Bella fully expected to be left alone for at least a few weeks after that. She told Alice as much when they returned from Seattle. A weekend of shopping deserved a least a month's break from any further makeover attempts.
Alice didn't listen. It was almost the end of May and classes were wrapping up before final exams. Bella was entirely too stressed about homework, essays and the coming tests to pay attention to much else. It wasn't surprising that she was unaware of the significance of the day. It wasn't like she had been looking forward to it anyways.
Edward picked her up Saturday morning; hours after Charlie had left to go fishing with Billy. It was no longer unusual on a weekend for Bella to spend a day at the Cullens, but she had homework to do, despite Edward's insistence that there were more important things.
Bella should have figured out that something was up when Alice met them at the door of the white house. Bella managed two words of protested begging in Edward's direction before Alice swept her upstairs to her bathroom.
For the first few hours, Bella figured Alice was just having fun. There was a manicure and pedicure, a nice neck message to 'release some of that tension you're carrying around these days' and quite a long effort on her hair that involved hot rollers. None of it impressed Bella, but she grin and bore it, hoping Alice with soon run out of energy.
Esme brought her lunch and even Rosalie stopped by to ask Alice how things were going. Bella thought she actually caught a slight look of approval on the blond vampire's face before she disappeared back through the door.
It was only when Alice set about with makeup and final hair preparations that Bella started to think that maybe it wasn't a normal make over session. There was a purpose to all of Alice's work.
'Alice,' she pleaded for the tenth time.
'Nope, I'm still not telling. Besides, I already know everything is going to be fine and you're going to love it!' This was said with just enough forced enthusiasm that Bella knew she was lying. Or at least embellishing.
'Seriously, Alice, whatever he's got planned, I'm not interested.'
'I doubt that,' Alice teased. She had a point. 'There,' she twirled the last piece of hair. 'You're all done. Just need to get you dressed!'
Bella literally cringed. Apparently, it could get worse.
The dress was stunning on the hanger, just as it had looked in the store two weeks before, but Bella didn't think anything more of it when Alice squeezed her into its ruffled, hip-hugging layers. 'Seriously, Alice, I look ridiculous.'
Alice frowned, annoyed. 'You look amazing and Edward's going to tell you that. Just trust me and have a nice time.'
Bella nodded meekly. Right now, arguing wasn't getting her anywhere.
'Sit down on the bed so I can put these on,' Alice told her, brandishing a pair shoes. A pair of heeled shoes.
'Absolutely not!' Bella physically backed away. 'I'll wear the dress, but I am not going to kill myself just so my feet look good!'
'You won't. I know you won't, so stop complaining. Edward's not going to let you go anyways; don't you know that by now?'
Alice had a point. Bella huffed, but sat down on the edge of the bed to allow Alice to strap her feet into the sparkly death contraptions called designer heels. Could this day get any worse?
Bella was certain it could. The proof came soon afterwards when – one hand securely on her arm to prevent accidents – Alice took her downstairs to a waiting Edward. A waiting Edward wearing a suit and holding a corsage.
Absolutely not, Bella thought as soon as she caught sight of it. But then he smiled at her, dazzling in a heartbeat, and Bella forgot why this was a bad idea. Bloody vampires. She'd find a way to get back at both Alice and Edward for this. But later; much later. Possibly when she had forgotten how hot Edward looked in a suit and tie.
But instead of dwelling on those thoughts, she let Edward slip the corsage over her wrist and take Alice's place at her side.
'You can stop looking like I'm taking you to your execution,' he whispered to her.
'What?' Bella blinked at him, only then realising she'd been a bit out of it for the last minute.
'Smile,' he told her. She grimaced instead.
'Oh sweetheart, you look stunning!' Esme exclaimed from by the front door.
Bella's grimace faltered somewhat in the presence of Edward's smiling mother. 'Um, thanks Esme,' she managed.
'You look beautiful tonight, Bella,' Carlisle told her from his wife's side.
Bella flushed red and managed to stammer out a thank you. It was one thing to hear it from Esme, who complimented everyone. It was another from Alice, who was so sure of her makeover skills that no one could look bad after she'd touched them. But it was entirely different coming from the Cullen patriarch whom Bella was certain would neither lie nor embellish such a statement for the sake of making her feel better.
Edward smiled at his parents, gave Alice a brief wave of thanks and led a stumbling Bella outside to the Volvo.
'Can we not, please Edward?' she begged when he had closed his own door and turned the key in the ignition.
'Human experiences are important, Bella. Especially rites of passage ones. We won't stay long, but please, try to pretend you're enjoying yourself. At least for your friends' sakes.'
That stopped any further protests. Bella knew how much Jess and Angela had been looking forward to tonight. They deserved it and that meant they deserved to have a smiling Bella who didn't look like being at Prom was worse than being hunted by a crazed vampire tracker. Though in Bella's mind, that decision was a near thing.
'Fine,' she sighed as Edward gunned the car down the winding drive.
'Thank you,' he said.
Bella spent the short ride bargaining with herself. She'd dance with Edward if they could leave early. She'd smile for the camera if it meant she could sit at the table as long as she wanted. She'd keep the shoes on so long as Alice didn't go near her until exams were over.
By the time they reached the parking lot Bella had managed to calm herself down enough to plaster a – mostly – believable smile on her face and still her racing heart.
'I won't be that bad,' Edward promised her as he helped her out of the car. Around them twilight was drawing in and from the gym music blared. Scattered here and there amongst the cars were other students dressed in bright colours and dark suits.
'Right,' Bella took a deep breath and grabbed the arm Edward held out towards her. 'Let's just get this over with.'
Edward smiled at, but there was a clear edge underneath it of disappointment. Bella let out a sigh and resolved to have a good time, at least for his sake. He may have been doing this for her, but she knew that it pleased him to see her enjoy a 'human experience'.
Inside the gym the music was even louder, a steady bass thrum felt through the floor. Bella tottered along on her heels, gripping Edward's arm in a less than lady like fashion. He seemed aware of the fact though, and was at least making an effort to walk at whatever speed she could manage.
Inside it took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the twinkling lights lighting an otherwise dim room. There were dozens of students on the makeshift dance floor. Bella spotted Jessica and Mike to one side and let out a relieved breath.
'Come on,' Edward said into her ear and began to half lead, half drag her towards the heart of the dancing.
'What? No! Edward!' she protested in vain. Since she was reliant on him to be able to walk more than a step without landing on her face she could hardly let go of his arm.
He stopped in the middle of the floor, in a convenient open space. Just then the heavy thrumming music gave way to something slower. 'Relax,' he told her. His arm wrapped around her waist and lifted her up with ease. Suddenly she found herself standing on his shoes with the toes of her heels.
He took her other hand in his and began to lead her in a slow step around the floor.
Bella's lips formed a soft 'oh'.
'Not so bad, right?' She nodded mutely.
It wasn't, actually. There was no chance she could fall like this and it was left to Edward to keep the beat, something else Bella wasn't terribly good at. After a minute her body relaxed into his and she closed her eyes briefly. No, it wasn't so bad after all.
The slow dance led into another, slightly more upbeat, but Edward didn't change his grip on her. She had a feeling he was dancing to the music in his own head anyways. They were half-way through the next song when she felt him stiffen slightly against her, almost immediately followed by a tap on her back. Startled, Bella stepped backwards, only remembering then that she was standing on Edward's feet for a reason. She tottered slightly in the heels, but his arms gripped her tightly.
'Hey, Bella,' Jacob said from behind her.
'Um, hey Jake. What are you doing here?' Her eyes narrowed disapprovingly. 'Are you crashing the prom?'
Jacob smiled down at her.
Down at her.
'When did you get so tall!' she exclaimed.
'I'm a teenage boy, Bella; we grow. And no, I'm not crashing prom. I just...wanted to see you for a minute. Can we...talk?' He said this last part to Edward rather than to her.
Edward was still pressed against her back and Bella felt him stiffen even more. 'If that's what Bella wants,' he said cautiously.
'It's alright,' she told him. 'Just let me dance with Jacob for a minute and then you can have me back.'
Edward smiled at her. Jacob frowned. But Edward relinquished his hold with ease, stepping back to allow Jacob to take her in his arms instead. She caught one final glance of Edward's face as he disappeared into the crowd.
Jacob was not nearly the dancer Edward was. They swayed back and forth to the beat, but that was about all they could manage.
'So, how have you been?' Bella asked him.
'Oh, you know same old, same old. You?'
'Um, pretty good. Busy, you know, with exams,' she lied.
'Yeah, um, anyways, it's good to see you. You haven't been down to the res since...' his voice trailed off and Bella winced.
'Yes, sorry about that. It's just, things have been, um, busy.' Very busy, what with sadistic vampires trying to kill her and spending most of her time with the Cullens.
'Right,' Jacob said, in a voice that clearly stated he didn't believe her. 'Anyways, I just wanted to see you.'
'You came all the way here to crash prom just to see me? You could have called.'
Jacob actually blushed. 'Yeah, I was sort of...that is, um... Look, don't be mad, but my dad sort of...paid me to come here tonight.'
'Yeah. Twenty bucks.' Bella blinked at him, confused. 'Look, I want you to know that I think this is stupid, but he made me come. And I could use the money.'
'My dad's...worried. About you...and the Cullens.'
Bella's thoughts were tumbling over in her head, trying to sort themselves into something that made sense. Suddenly, an inkling dawned. Billy was the one that had told Jacob the legend of the Cold Ones. The story Jacob didn't believe to be true. But Billy did.
'Look, Jake,' she started to argue, but he cut her off.
'Just, let me say it, okay? My dad wanted me to tell you that he thinks you should stay away from your...boyfriend. He said that, and I quote,' he raised his hands from her waist to make quotation marks in the air. 'That "we'll be watching".'
'Um, yeah,' Jacob admitted.
'Right. Well, tell him thanks. And make sure he pays up.'
Jacob sighed, relieved to find that she wasn't mad. 'I will. Anyways, I should go. Your...boyfriend looks like he wants you back.' Jacob was looking behind her to where Edward was probably making his way back to them. The song was almost over.
'It was nice to see you, Jacob,' she told him.
'You too. Come visit, okay?'
'Of course,' she promised, not at all sure she'd be able to.
Jacob gave her one last lingering look before he disappeared into the crowd, just as Edward's cold hand settled back around her waist.
'Want to go outside?' he asked. She nodded to him. The music and people were suddenly too much. Her head was whirling with what Jacob had told her.
Outside the air was clean. The sky was black now with night. There were only a few people around. Most were inside dancing to the music. Edward led her a bit away from the building to a quiet patch of grass before he drew her back into his arms.
'You seemed surprised to realise I was taking you to Prom.' He told her. 'What did you think Alice was doing all afternoon?'
'At first?' she asked. 'I thought it was just her usual Saturday 'let's dress Bella up like a Barbie' thing. I didn't start to think about it until she put me in the dress. Then I thought, maybe you were taking me to dinner or something. Somewhere nice. When she put the shoes on, well, I hardly thought it was going to involve dancing! I can't even walk in these things without tripping!'
She picked one foot up and stuck it straight out so that Edward could see the three inches of heel attached to the sole. 'Honestly, it's like she wants me to break a leg.'
'Hardly,' Edward muttered dryly. 'She knew I'd be here to catch you.'
Bella smiled at that.
'You really just thought it was dinner?'
'Well, maybe not. It took a bit to remember what weekend it was, but when I first thought about Prom I figured you'd have listened to me when I said no. And then I realised you never listen to me.'
'Too right. At least in matters like this. You deserve all the human experiences you can get. Prom is an important one.'
'I suppose,' she shrugged. They were swaying together in time to the faint music drifting across the lawn.
'And it wasn't that bad, was it?'
She smiled. 'No. So far, I haven't tripped once! But speaking of that, can we go? Just standing in these shoes is making my feet hurt.'
'They can't be the most comfortable things,' he admitted with a glance at her feet. 'Alice doesn't remember, of course, what wearing heels as a human feels like.'
'Surely Rosalie does?'
'Probably. But then, human Rosalie cared quite a bit about her looks. She would have done anything to be beautiful, even if it hurt.'
Bella mulled that over for a bit. 'I will never understand women.'
Edward threw his head back and laughed. It was quite a sight. 'Emmett's right; you are funny. I think you can stay.'
Bella cocked an eyebrow at him. 'Oh, I can, can I?'
'Yep,' he quipped.
In the background, the music faded to a soft melody and Edward pulled her closer.
'Edward?' she whispered to him, face buried in his cold shoulder.
She pulled back to look at him. 'Kiss me,' she pleaded.
'It would be my pleasure,' he smiled at her before capturing her lips with his own.
It felt so right; like coming home and being safe all wrapped up in one. When he kissed her, Bella forgot about everything else. All that mattered was Edward and her and their lips against each others'. How had she lived her life without this? How had her?
When he pulled back she gasped for air, thoroughly light headed. He was smiling down at her.
'I love you,' he told her.
Bella smiled back at him. 'I love you.'
They continued to sway to the music as night closed in about them. Just the two of them: vampire and human, together.
If you have a quick minute, I'd love to hear what you thought. This was my first multi-chapter fic in a very long time, and certainly my first in Twilight. I'm interested in maybe following a few other story ideas in this fandom, but only if you'd all like to read them! Let me know.