A/N: And here it is, your moment of fluff.
The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Golden Gate Park was breathtaking.
Bella raised her camera, taking in the private view that belonged to her and her alone. Edward stood in profile, his head turned toward the view of the bay and his hair ruffling in the light breeze. Though Liam was safe in his front facing carrier, his chubby legs kicking with excitement at being out and about in a new place, Edward's hand was splayed protectively over his stomach.
It was a beautiful picture, not just because of the iconic view behind them but because Edward and Liam were most definitely father and son. It was true that Liam's hair was brown where Edward's was bronze, but it stuck up in exactly the same way. His lips, too, were lightly pursed - Edward's exact expression the moment she took the shot.
Alerted by the click of the camera, Edward turned, his mouth quirking up into a wide smile when he saw her. Liam, comically, mirrored his father's expression, his kicks getting more fervent as he babbled at her in baby speak.
"Ouch," Edward grimaced. He ruffled Liam's hair. "Easy buddy."
"Liam, are you beating up Daddy?" Bella asked her son, tickling the bottom of his feet just to hear his giggles.
Turning slightly, Edward tucked Bella under his arm so they were all looking out over the bay. "So, now that we're all here, will you finally forgive me?"
At Christmas, a little more than six months before, Carlisle and Esme had gifted Edward and Bella with plane tickets to San Francisco for them and the baby dated just after the school semester was set to end. Edward had - correctly - guessed that it would be the only way to get Bella to agree to a family vacation he paid for.
Of course, Bella was no fool. She knew exactly who'd put them up to such a thing, and he got an earful from her when they got home. She'd softened somewhat when he explained it was as much for him as her.
"You've never travelled, so this isn't an experience that's a do-over, something you've forgotten. It's entirely new to you. Let me travel with you," he'd pleaded. "We'll pick places I've never been either.
"I was never mad at you," she murmured, reaching up to take his hand.
"No," he said fondly. "You did a fine job of faking it then."
She made a face at him, resisting the urge to stick out her tongue. "Gotta keep you on your toes, Cullen. There ain't no rest for the wicked."
His expression was dubious. "Have you been catching up on music again?"
"Money don't grow on trees."
"Because, really, you shouldn't base your updated musical tastes on what Emmett tells you to listen to."
She just grinned up at him. "You mean the Backstreet Boys aren't in vogue again?"
Edward sighed and looked down at his son. "We're going to have to hope you inherited my musical tastes rather than your mother's.
"So, what's next on the agenda?"
Bella ran through the list they'd compiled of things they might like to do in San Francisco. "Ghirardelli Square," she said decisively.
"Good call," Edward nodded with mock approval. "Liam has only gone through two changes of clothes today, and it's already nearly noon."
About an hour and a half later, they were full on ice cream and though Edward had no idea how Liam had gotten any in his mouth after all he'd just cleaned off his son's body, the baby was amped.
"I don't know if taking him down to the beach is a good idea," Bella said, watching in bemusement as he tried to crawl out of Edward's arms. "If we put him in the water, he'll be halfway to Japan before he realizes he can't swim."
Edward just chuckled, hitching the baby up on his hip when he adamantly refused to be put in his carrier.
"We should get the stroller from the car," Bella suggested.
"He's fine for now," Edward said, waiving his free hand. "I got him."
Some people said he was crazy, preferring to keep his son in a carrier when they were out like this, strapped to him or in his arms as he was now. Edward hadn't forgotten what it felt like to be one heartbeat away from losing everything, though, and he kept his family as close as he could. Right now, Liam was young enough to let him.
Bella was, of course, a different story.
If he could have, he would have wrapped her up in his arms, making sure none of these strangers who loomed around them could hurt her. He was always watching. Even when he was at ease, enjoying himself, he was aware.
But if that was his burden - a low level of paranoia because he'd come so close to not having any of this - then it was one he bore gratefully. He supposed, in many ways, his scars from the ordeal they'd been through were just as deep as Bella's. She dealt with her challenges with grace. It was the least he could do to try to be reasonable.
As soon as she'd shouldered Liam's diaper bag, though, he took her hand, preferring that they were at least touching as they walked out into the crowded square.
They meandered. Edward smiled when Bella paused outside a tea room - a restaurant that specialized in tea parties - peering with a somewhat wistful smile on her face. Privately, he let himself imagine that they would have another baby in the future - one they chose together, without surprises and complications. He loved his son with a frightening degree of ferocity, but a little girl who brought with her all the things little girls were prone to would be nice, too.
He told Bella as much.
She gave him an indulgent smile. "Who says Lee won't like tea parties?" she challenged. "What do you say, Lee? Do you want me to buy you a tea set?" she asked their son, nodding emphatically.
Little monkey that he was, Liam helpfully nodded back.
"See?" Bella asked triumphantly.
Edward rolled his eyes at her, taking her hand again as they walked on. It was something they'd already talked about - having other children.
Once, Bella, watching Edward roughhouse with Emmett, thought out loud that it might have been nice to have a sibling. When he asked, honestly curious, if she ever thought of giving Liam a brother or sister, she'd surprised the hell out of him by saying she did.
"Later though. After school. After I find work."
Edward was content to wait.
Of course, that was getting quite ahead of himself. There was another thing he wanted before they brought another child into the world, and he'd been debating with himself as to whether it was a good idea to ask.
It seemed almost ridiculous to think that she would say no if he asked her to marry him. They were, to him, a foregone conclusion. Since long before she'd fallen off that cliff, Edward had known he would never want anyone as much as he wanted her.
But life wasn't as simple as who and how you loved.
Bella was a lot more sure of herself than she had been a year before. She'd grown into her role both as a mother and as an adult. They'd both worked hard at their relationship - learning to communicate and move as a well functioning unit should.
It wasn't the best time, either. After Liam was born, Bella threw herself into school full force, eager to mark some 'adult' progress - her words.
On his side of things, Edward had his own struggles. Before, struggling to prove himself, he'd frequently worked twelve hour days. He still had every desire to progress at the FBI, but now, he had a family to come home to. Bella was supportive, but he didn't want to fall into the trap many of his now divorced colleagues did - 'just until the end of this case... and this case... and this case.'
Still, he dreamed.
They were walking past the long line of street vendors when a spry, older Asian woman hopped out at them.
"Oh, yes. Pretty couple. Pretty boy," she said, beckoning them. "Come, I have something just right for you."
"Thank you, but-" Edward started to say, but the woman was insistent.
"Look! It brings good luck," she said, taking Bella's hand and sliding a ring onto her finger. They were simple rings - most of them made out of a single bit of metal. The one she put on Bella had been twisted into the infinity symbol at the center. "Lucky, see? Forever!"
"It doesn't fit," Bella pointed out mildly, spinning the ring on her finger.
"Ah, wait. I fix!" The woman took the ring off, taking out a hammer and banging at is. Edward had to bite his lip to keep from laughing.
"There!" The woman exclaimed, putting the ring back on Bella's finger. Now it fit snugly and the old lady gave a satisfied smirk. Picking up a ring that looked the same, she grabbed Edward's free hand. "See? You match. Very lucky. Sixteen dollar for both."
"Well, that's a small price to pay for luck," Edward agreed, reaching for his wallet.
Over the woman's head, Bella rolled her eyes but smiled at him fondly, mouthing the word, 'sucker'.
The gleeful woman thanked them profusely, promised them again that the rings would bring them luck as long as they wore them, and told them to come back again to see her. She informed them that many people who had bought her lucky rings came back telling her how they'd won the lottery or fallen into some other area of success.
When they were out of earshot, Bella shook her head at him. "See, I was afraid you would use this trip as an excuse to get a ring on my finger," she teased him. "But an $8 ring? I think I was gypped."
"This is the infinity symbol, Bella," he informed her gravely, readjusting Liam in his arms. "Like it or not, I guess you're stuck with me now. Besides - it's lucky. Remember?"
She paused, pulling him off to the side so they weren't stopping the flow of traffic, and wrapped her arms around his waist. She took a moment to kiss Liam's nose, responding to his baby babble, before she stood on her tiptoes to press a tender kiss to Edward's lips. "Can I tell you something?" she asked him quietly.
"Of course. Anything."
"I know I didn't know it at first, but when I woke up to you, I was already the luckiest woman in the world," she said sincerely. "And I'm glad you stuck around long enough to let me figure that out for myself."
He raised his ring adorned free hand, cupping her cheek, leaning down to kiss her more seriously until their son protested loudly at being ignored. Knowing he was being cheesy, but not really able to help it, he pulled her hand up to his lips, kissing the infinity knot on her new ring. "I know our time together is finite," he murmured, looking into her eyes. "But I will love you forever."
She could have laughed at him, but she didn't. Her face flushed instead, her lips turning up in a pleased, adoring smile. "I love you, too," she said quietly. "Forever."
With how much her life had changed - how she continually changed and evolved in the last year - Edward knew it wasn't a promise Bella made lightly.
They rejoined the crowd, a family of three in a city of millions, in a world of billions. Everyone had a story. Theirs, Edward knew, as long as they lived, would be written together.
A/N: No word of a lie - that lady exists. Tellingmelies bought me that ring - so I guess that means she's stuck with me forever. Bwah hahahaha.
Anyway. That lady is crazy, the ring is awesome, and this story? It's done.
So many thanks to barburella, jadedandboring, jfka06, ginnyw and all of you who've loved these kids and stuck with me through to the end.
Frequently asked questions:
No, I have not seen The Vow.
No, Bella won't ever get her memories back completely. Amnesia patients frequently don't, unlike what fiction will have you believe.
What's coming up next?
I have recently started a new story - My Biggest Mistake, My Greatest Salvation. It's a wake up in Vegas married story but, you know, with a twist and all that. Check it out if you're inclined. I'm really rather proud of it.
Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. Thank you so much for all your feedback.