A/N: This was a little harder to write than I anticipated. I'm sorry it was delayed, but I had to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. So here it is, the final chapter. I hope you enjoy and review!
Twilight isn't my property, that honor goes to Stephenie Meyer who owns all the characters. I'm just borrowing them for a bit, so no Copyright Infringement is intended!
Chapter Twenty-Four: Where Do We Go From Here? (Epilogue)
After our lips parted, I lowered my head and pressed my cheek into her chest. Then I closed my eyes in contentment. Holding her like that made my new life flash before my eyes. I marveled at how much had happened to me in such a short amount of time. Then a terrible thought occurred to me, what if she was a totally different person now? I pulled away reluctantly, and looked at her fully for the first time since she had recovered her ancient memories.
"I need to know." I paused, not entirely sure how to ask. Then before I could continue she held a finger to my lips.
"Shhhh... I promise you I'm still Alice. I just have a lot more stories to bore you with now." She said quietly, and a bit playfully. I stared into her eyes for a long time, in an attempt to see into her soul. It didn't work of course, but I didn't mind that I got lost just looking at her.
"I love you." I said with a big smile, and then I leaned forward and kissed her pixie nose. She grabbed my chin and drew my face down so that she could kiss me again. It felt so right, that everything else kind of just vanished. We stayed like that for several hours holding each other. I felt myself moving through all the sorrow and pain from everything that happened to us. Finally coming around to the simple joy of being close to her. Eventually we realized the family would be worried about us, so we got up and headed home.
When we got back to the house, Esme was sitting on the porch in one of the outdoor couches. Her face was unreadable, and as she looked up I felt a twinge of fear. I pulled my arm away from Alice, and almost ran over to my mother-in-law. Taking a deep breath she handed me an envelope, written on the cover was a single word, Isabella. Careful not to tear the delicate paper I pulled out a single sheet of thin antique stationary, and then unfolded it slowly.
The letter was written in a beautiful script, clearly the work of a master calligrapher. I checked the bottom, it was signed "With all my love, Mara." I frowned, I'd hoped that she would come to stay with us. I wanted to get to know her without Nathaniel's influence. I dared a glance at Esme and Alice, thankful to see that they were there for me no matter what the news was.
"My dearest Bella. I won't make excuses, I know my actions have none. I've made mistakes, but none so painful as the choice not to turn my sister. I watched her when I could, but every time I visited her so much had changed. She had Charlie, and then was widowed. I felt like I was standing still, and she was moving forward with far too much speed. When she died I thought my last tether to humanity had gone with her. I was wrong. You saved me. You gave me back my life, and I can never repay you. Only I realized that I had no idea how to live. I want you to know I thought seriously about staying, with you. Then I realized I had an answer.
By the time you read this letter it'll be too late. Please don't try to find us, when he is rational I'll give him the choice to come back to you. I know you'll hate me for it, but I promise I won't let him kill. I hope someday you can forgive me.
With all my love, Mara."
"Dad..." I wasn't sure I spoke, but both Esme and Alice reacted to me. My hands dropped into my lap, and Alice quickly snatched up the paper.
"Oh my god. Bella, are you alright?" Alice asked as she snaked an arm around my waist, and then rested my head against her shoulder.
"No." I said coldly, as an anvil of numbness pressed out every warm thought and feeling within me.
The pain hadn't disappeared, in fact it had gotten worse. Yet for some reason I was disappointed. I couldn't remember why, but I was hoping for fires of transformation. Not the dull ever-present ache of strained, pulled, and torn muscles. I blinked the grit out of my eyes, and tried to focus on my surroundings. At first things were hard to see, then as my sight came into focus, I relaxed to see the familiar furniture of Carlisle's office.
I felt a strange comfort knowing that I was home. But that comfort quickly dissipated when I found that I was in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors and intravenous lines full of blood and saline. Then I tried to move, and found that I couldn't without serious pain. The pain tugged at my memory, as if my body were trying to remind me of something.
"You shouldn't try to move. You're not on any pain meds yet." Carlisle came over to my bed as he spoke, and took my hand for support. As my second father, his touch calmed me slightly. I tried to talk, but my throat seemed to be closed.
"Don't try to speak. Here drink some of this." His voice was soothing, and when he pressed the cool cup to my lips I took in the offered liquid greedily. But it wasn't water, it was far thicker and tasted metallic. It took all of a second to recognize it as blood. Yet it didn't upset me, because once I had it on my tongue I couldn't stop myself from moaning in satisfaction. Nothing had tasted quite so good, no matter how strange I felt about it. He pulled away the cup, and then wiped my mouth with a soft damp cloth.
"I'm glad you're awake. I've been worried about you." He smiled, and caressed my hair in a paternal way. "How much do you remember?" His voice was worried, and his expression made my heart ache just a little. But his question made me think, and in a horrible moment of realization I drudged up the night that shouldn't have been. With it the rage that had formed around my heart flared angrily.
"Edward... where is he?" I managed to hiss out, my scratchy throat made my voice sound ragged and rough.
"He's gone." I looked at him a little confused. Where had he gone, and how much time had passed since I'd fallen asleep in Bella's arms?
"How?" I croaked, my voice trying out it's best impression of a frog. The effort made me cough a couple of times.
"You've been asleep for nearly a week. A lot has happened." He frowned and looked off into the distance for a couple of seconds, and then turned back at me and smiled somberly before continuing. "The monster that destroyed Edward's mind is dead. However, before he was destroyed, he tore Edward apart. Bella... should tell you the rest of that story." I swallowed a few times, and found just enough saliva to clear my throat of cobwebs.
"So he's gone. But not burned." Carlisle nodded once, "why am I still human?" I asked pathetically. I felt so small and fragile.
"I don't exactly know how to say this. You're, pregnant." I knew he was telling the truth. I could almost feel it inside of me as he said it. Still I couldn't rationalize the sensation with my reality. The one thing I wanted to have as a human was inside of me. Yet the very thought of it made my skin crawl, and my body quiver in anger.
"Get it out of me." I said through clenched teeth.
"Of course. It's what I'd recommend anyway, since I have no idea how dangerous the pregnancy will be." He said, obviously relieved. Then he turned to one of the machines to check my vitals.
"Why did you wait?" I asked, already pretty sure of the answer.
"Because I would never act without your permission, except of course if you were dying."
"Thank you." I closed my eyes, I felt so tired. Unfortunately as soon as I closed them, Edward's face appeared. His eyes were like they were before, when he loved me. Suddenly the decision didn't look quite so black and white. I opened my eyes and peered outside into the thick, mist shrouded wilderness.
"Should I think about it? I mean, I hate him. But I loved him once. Should I keep what I loved about him?" I finally asked. Carlisle stopped in mid motion, and his shoulders shifted slightly.
"I couldn't know. Except, that a hasty decision can sometimes be worse than a well thought out one. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have agreed with you so readily." He didn't turn, and I wasn't sure what to think. Then I realized how conflicted this must've been for him, and maybe it was just as confusing for him as it was for me.
"Carlisle... father." I beckoned. He turned to me, and I reached out a hand to him which he took immediately.
"I'll support whatever choice you make." He said after a long moment. It was what I needed to hear, so I nodded and squeezed his hand in gratitude. Then I let the fatigue that'd been threatening to pull me back into unconsciousness have its way. I drifted for a long time in blackness, the kind of semi-conscious sleep that is easy to wake from. Until finally I felt the tug of dreams dragging me under into dark places full of impossible things.
The grave was tasteful. The bits of the things I overheard from those that loved him, as I eavesdropped on his funeral, were touching. I knew why they were laying him to rest, saying their goodbyes and moving on with the pain and loss. I just didn't agree with them. After I dug him up I picked up his head and looked into his lifeless eyes which were still open. His mouth was still twisted into a snarl. I knew it would take time, but I couldn't leave him like this frozen between death and life forever.
I carefully aligned the jagged lines of his torn neck, and pressed down hard on his head. At first nothing happened, and I wondered if the rumors of our true invulnerability were false. Then a sickening sound like a vacuum escaped from his throat, and soon the line of serrated flesh disappeared. He didn't move for several more minutes. It was as if his mind was adjusting to a new state of being. Then he blinked up at me, and a strange look of anger and fear crossed over his face.
"Welcome back Edward."
-To Be Continued
A/N: Yes I'm that evil. Nathaniel may be dead, but there are a ton of things still up in the air. Instead of wrapping things up in a nice little bow, I thought a cliffy (okay several cliffys) would be more appropriate. I won't make any promises about how long it'll take me to get the first chapter out for the sequel. But I will be working on it this weekend.
Thank you all for reading this story. I appreciate every review, favorite, and alert that I get. You're feedback is why I love writing for you.
Changes 2 coming soon! (Title still a work in progress)