Summary: The dark, the light. The sweet, the bitter. Fluff and angst. They are all two sides of the same coin. A collection of canon moments from Twilight in that time after the return from Phoenix and before the prom.
Chocolate, cookies and kisses to the angels who helped with this story: KristenLynn1121, lisamichelle17, latessitrice and Raum.
"To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour."
Carlisle entered his home from the garage, dropping his briefcase on the floor and hanging his jacket on the pegs by the door. The house was quiet; it had been a sunny day so Emmett and Rosalie had gone hunting with Alice and Jasper. Even without most of the family at home, he could sense the new attitude pervading the house, one of hope, discovery and joy. Since their return from Phoenix, there had been many changes, most of them centering around Edward.
Following his wife's scent into the living room, he found Esme standing stock still at the bottom of the staircase, her head cocked toward the rooms upstairs. She was dressed in one of the casual frocks that she favored, if only because she knew he liked them on her.
He smiled at the sight of her petite figure and the shining, caramel hair cascading to her shoulders. They were approaching their eighty-fifth anniversary, and it came to his mind that he loved her even more than when they had first married. He approached her from behind, snaking an arm around her waist and kissing where her neck met her shoulder. "Hello, gorgeous," he murmured, letting his breath tickle her ear.
"Hello yourself, good-looking," she whispered, not turning around, but he could hear the smile in her voice. She continued standing motionless, and he stood with her, before he kissed her neck again. Still, she didn't move.
"What are we doing?" he whispered.
"Edward. He's on the phone with Bella," she replied in a soft voice.
"We're taking up eavesdropping, are we?" he murmured playfully.
She turned in his arms, and he saw how brightly her eyes were shining. "I've never seen him like this. It's…it's wonderful," she said, her lips trembling just slightly with emotion. She threw her arms around his neck and they hugged tightly. "I am so happy for him."
They stood closely, concentrating on the faint sound of Edward's voice floating down the stairs from his room.
"The essay is due on the fifteenth. You'll have plenty of time." There was a pause as Bella answered him, but they were privy only to his side of the conversation. "I could come over there and help," he said hopefully. There was another pause and then he added, "It wouldn't be cheating, more like tutoring."
The sound of his laughter made them both smile, and they looked at each other, sharing their joy. "Music," Carlisle commented softly.
"Marvelous music," she agreed, before linking her arm through his and drawing him away.
Alice entered the bedroom she shared with Jasper. She dropped her shopping bag near the closet, before noticing Jasper sitting in a straight chair in the corner, a closed book on his lap. He sat quietly, grinning widely and radiating happiness. It was affecting everyone in the house, this new-found joy of Edward's.
"You're nearly glowing, you know that, don't you?" she teased, her hands on her hips.
"I've fought against his moods for so long, it's nice to be able to just bask in one," he drawled. She couldn't help but be affected by the joy emanating from him, saturating the whole room, even the house she suspected.
She came and sat on his lap, and he wrapped his arms around her. "How was shopping?" he asked.
"Good. Great, actually." She extended one of her legs, showing off a red wedge sandal with a red bow. "I got these shoes. Cute, don't you think?"
He snuggled into her neck, kissing an ear. "Fabulously cute."
She rolled her eyes, sighing. He hadn't even looked at them. "I don't know why I even dress for you. You don't really care, do you?"
He let his lips travel across her jaw. "I don't know why you dress for me either," he murmured. "I much prefer you unclothed."
Along with the happiness, sexual tension had increased in the household as well. She giggled as he stood, picking her up and then throwing her on the bed. She bounced twice on the mattress before he leaped next to her.
Rosalie sat in the living room, leafing through a magazine, the first one ready for a change. She checked her watch; it was nearly time to leave for school. Emmett was already out in the garage. She was just waiting for Alice and Jasper to show.
She looked up at the sound of footsteps on the stairs, but it was only Edward. He'd just arrived home at dawn after spending the night at Bella's. He'd run upstairs for a quick shower, then he would take off to go pick up Bella for school in his Volvo.
"Good morning," he grunted as he jogged down the stairs.
"Good morning," she said cautiously. Habit was hard to break; Edward was moodiest in the morning. They'd always seemed to get into their biggest screaming matches at that time. Emmett theorized it was because he spent so many nights alone.
"You look nice," Edward said off-handedly, before picking up his keys and heading for the garage.
Astonished and speechless, she watched his back as he exited through the door. He never–never–complimented her on her appearance, even though it was something she spent a great deal of attention on. Her mouth was still agape as Jasper descended the stairs.
He stopped half-way when he felt her shock and confusion. "What?"
"Edward said I looked nice," she said, barely able to speak
"For real?" Jasper said, resuming his descent. "Edward said that?"
From upstairs came the sound of more footsteps. "What did Edward say?" Alice asked as she trotted down the stairs as well.
Jasper turned to her. "Edward said Rosalie looked nice."
Alice joined him at the bottom. "Really?" she asked, her voice rising. The three of them turned to watch out the window as Edward's Volvo backed out of the garage and sped away. "Wow," she whispered.
"You guys ready to go?" Emmett asked from the open garage door. The three of them looked at him in various states of surprise. "What's going on?" he asked, glancing between them.
"Edward," Alice explained. She started walking to the car. "He told Rosalie she looked nice." She brushed past him, followed by Jasper, who cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Really, babe?" Emmett asked Rosalie who nodded as she walked past him before he shut the garage door. He turned, following the others. "Boy, if he's this happy now, imagine once he gets laid."
In a small clearing, Edward sat on a fallen log, being the first one to finish hunting. He could feel the blood of the deer he'd just consumed working its way through his tissues. Emmett was the first to join him; the others were still deeper in the forest.
"So," Edward said, using a twig to scratch at the dirt at his feet. "What are you guys doing May 7th?"
That was a couple of weeks away. Emmett barely planned what he was doing tomorrow. He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. Nothing, I guess. Why?"
Edward tossed the twig he'd been holding into the bushes. "You want to go to the prom?"
Emmett frowned. "What, you and me?"
Edward rolled his eyes. "No, I mean all of us." He reached in his pocket and pulled out six tickets. "I've got tickets to the prom."
Alice entered the clearing where they were talking, followed closely by Jasper. She clapped her hands in excitement. "All right! We're going to the prom!"
Behind her, Jasper asked, "We are?"
"Prom?" Emmett asked, turning back to Edward. "You never showed any interest in a prom before."
"He didn't have a girlfriend before," Jasper said, smiling.
Emmett couldn't make any sense of it. "What are we going to do at a prom?"
"Dance, obviously," Rosalie said, pushing through the undergrowth. She and Alice looked at each other with delight. "Shopping," they said in unison.
Alice moved to Emmett, laying a hand on his arm. "He wants Bella to have the kind of life she'd have if he was human."
"Okay," Emmett said reasonably, shrugging. "Prom it is."
"Is Bella going to be able to dance with her broken leg?" Jasper asked.
"Well, not a lot," Edward admitted, shifting uncomfortably.
"How does Bella feel about this?" Emmett asked. "She doesn't really strike me as the dancing type."
Edward grimaced. "I haven't asked her yet."
"Don't," Alice said, her eyes taking on that faraway look she got when she was peering into the future.
"Don't ask her?" Rosalie objected. "What's he going to do, kidnap her?"
"No," Alice said. "We'll tell her it's just a regular date. She'll never guess."
"She won't?" Edward asked her, disbelieving.
"Nope," Alice said, shaking her head.
"So she can figure out you're a vampire, but she's clueless that her high school boyfriend wants to take her to the prom?" Rosalie asked, hands on her hips.
Edward looked at the four sets of eyes watching him. He wrestled with several answers before settling on one. "Go figure," he said, frowning at the ground.
"Did I hear someone mention prom?" Esme asked as she and Carlisle emerged from the bushes.
"Edward bought us tickets for the prom," Jasper answered.
"Prom, huh?" Carlisle asked, grinning.
"Oh, that's great," Esme said, smiling proudly at Edward, who shifted uncomfortably. "What a wonderful idea." She turned to Carlisle. "Maybe we could chaperone?"
"Hey," Edward protested. "Let's not get carried away."
"Yeah," Emmett said. "Only the dorky kids have parents that chaperone."
Jasper spluttered, laughing. "Dorky kids?"
"Heaven forbid you should get labeled dorky," Esme said in a faux huff. "Looks like it'll be just you and me, pal," she said to Carlisle, who was standing behind her.
He kissed her cheek. "Sounds perfect to me."
Jasper was playing Doom 3 with Emmett and Rosalie when he felt the melancholy drifting through the layers of emotion in the house. It was like the seeping of a black smoke curling through the atmosphere. Instinctively he knew it came from Alice, so he set down his controller and excused himself.
The screen door banged behind him as he trotted down the front steps. Alice sat on the bottom step, and he joined her, putting an arm around her shoulders. Wordlessly, she leaned her head back against his shoulder and they sat there for a few moments, enjoying the stillness of the night.
Finally she sighed. "Thanks," she whispered.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
She glanced back at the house. Lights were blazing from almost every window, even though it was nearly three in the morning. Edward's room was dark; he was over at Bella's. "Let's go for a walk," Alice suggested.
They strolled through the southern meadow and were nearly at the dark tree line when Alice began to speak. "I don't think you need to be a prognosticator to see heartache ahead."
Jasper turned that over in his mind as they entered the woods. It would have been too dark for any except the nocturnal to see, but the path was clear for them. The trees stretched in a canopy above them. "Edward," he said. "Edward and Bella."
"He'll never agree to turning her. He's way too stubborn for that."
"That's going to be tough for her."
"It will eventually drive them apart. She won't be able to watch her aging face in the mirror, while he stays seventeen. It'll be…" She searched for a strong enough word. "devastating for everyone."
"Could someone else turn her? Carlisle, maybe?"
"He'd never do it without Edward's approval. It would just drive Edward away, regardless."
"Is there nothing else?"
"Oh, there's lots of low probability stuff. She dies in an accident, one of us kills her. What comes up most often, though, is him leaving her."
"I don't know about that," Jasper said, shaking his head. "That's a mating bond they've got going there. I can feel it."
"That's it. He loves her too much to bring harm to her. If he feels he's bringing any kind of risk to her life, he'll walk away."
"Can he do that?"
"Not and live." She stopped walking. "He doesn't even realize what he's fighting."
Jasper turned and pulled her into his arms. He'd felt it as well. Underneath all of Edward's joy and optimism, there was a dark river of pain, self-loathing and regret. It wouldn't take much for it to bubble to the surface. He'd just kept hoping that some intervening event or circumstance would forestall what might become inevitable. "Surely you can see some path with hope."
She hugged him hard, glad for his protective arms. "I can't. Not right now. Not unless something changes…"
He kissed the top of her head. "Things may change. Somehow, they always do."
"It hurts, Jasper," she whispered, leaning into him."I can see it coming and it hurts."
"Alice." His heart ached for her. This was the hardest part he'd learned about living with the future. There was always some pain, some disaster waiting for next week, next month, next year. You couldn't avoid every rainstorm, every dark cloud. It always seemed easier to pick out the bad things ahead rather than the joys that were waiting. He'd decided sometime ago that knowing the future was not a gift. He paused until her eyes rose to his. "If there's nothing that can be done–"
"There's not. It's inevitable. I've looked, believe me, I've looked. " Her words came out in an explosive rush. "It's because of who he is, he'll never–"
He interrupted her. "If there's nothing that can be done," he said calmly, "then you must let them find what happiness they can now."
Her eyes searched his. She opened her mouth, but he spoke first.
"All they have, all any of us have, is today. Will you take away the joy they have now by advising them that despair lays around the corner?"
She shook her head slowly. "Even if I tell him, it only hurries things along."
"Then be quiet, my angel." His finger touched her lips. "Hide your fears. Let them enjoy the present."
"Sometimes, even Alice cannot turn the tides of fate," he admonished her. Reluctantly, she smiled at him, before taking his arm and turning back to the house.
Bella watched her reflection in the mirror, brushing her hair. She grimaced at the mirror, checking her teeth. The house was quiet; Charlie was working the graveyard shift. She appraised her reflection in the mirror, before unbuttoning the first three buttons of her Henley shirt. She opened the collar a bit, and posed for the mirror with wide eyes and pouty lips. Sighing, she turned away, re-fastening the two bottom buttons.
She hobbled over to the bed and sat down, using the headboard as a backrest. She swung the heavy cast on her leg onto the bed and tried to get comfortable. She would be thankful when it came off. Grabbing the edge of her bedspread, she flipped the edge of it so it covered her cast. Edward's face grew serious every time he saw that cast.
She looked up, her stomach suddenly clenching, when she heard the faint hiss of her window opening. Breathlessly, she watched as the most beautiful boy in the world climbed into the bedroom through her window. Soundlessly he turned and lowered it behind him.
He turned to her. "Hi," he said softly.
"Hi," she answered back. It was always a little bit difficult to breathe when she first saw him. She still couldn't get over the fact that this incredibly handsome boy was coming to see her. When he smiled at her as he was doing now, it made her stomach drop and her heart beat faster.
Edward cocked his head, listening. "Charlie's not here?" he asked, frowning.
"Working the late shift," she answered.
If she'd thought that it would make him relax more, she'd have been wrong. Edward still felt like he couldn't completely trust himself around her. He continued to find her scent distracting and preferred to have some kind of outside interference to lean on, even if that meant just Charlie sleeping down the hall. He was such an odd mix of predator and old-fashioned boy. She watched as he subtly breathed in and out a few times, his hands flexing at his side as he accustomed himself to her fragrance.
"Okay." He nodded and she saw him relax a hair.
"Come sit down," she offered, sliding over to make room on the bed.
He hesitated for a moment then came and sat down at the foot of the bed, facing her. Her leg gave a quick twinge of pain at the movement of the bed, and she tried her best to hide it, but he caught the quick, tiny tightening of the muscles around her eyes.
"It still bothers you," he said.
"It's nothing," she said, dismissing it. "The doctor says the cast is coming off in a few more days."
His expression tightened slightly, but she knew him well enough to know where his thoughts were headed. "I never should have–" He closed his eyes.
"Edward. Stop it." Her voice was uncharacteristically blunt. His eyes opened in surprise. "We've been through this."
He wasn't convinced. "Bella, this is surely–"
"Can we talk about something else?" They were at an impasse. There was an uneasy truce existing between them on the subject of the future of the relationship. When they got past it, everything else was just…sublime.
He gave up, for the moment anyway, on trying to convince her how ridiculously dangerous being with him was. He'd keep trying to protect her without exposing her to the worst of his world. "What would you like to talk about?" he said, acquiescing to her request, and smiling.
She breathed a silent sigh of relief. "We're supposed to dissect a frog next week," she said. "Will that be a problem for you?"
"A frog?" he asked chucking. "No, that won't be a problem."
"I was thinking I might ask to be excused. You know, as a conscientious objector kind of thing."
"For a frog?" he scoffed.
"Sure. Frogs have feelings, too."
"Well, you're not the only one thinking about trying to get out."
"Really? Who else?"
"Well, that makes sense. She's a vegetarian." He raised his eyebrows. "A real vegetarian," she corrected, making them both smile.
"And Eric Yorkie, too."
"He's afraid he's going to faint."
"Oh my gosh." She started laughing.
"I seem to remember someone else nearly fainting," he said, raising his elegant eyebrows. He was referring to the biology class where they'd done blood typing and she'd had to be escorted from class.
"Well, yeah, but that was blood."
"Yes. Yes, it was," he said fondly. It had been the second time she'd been in his arms, the first being the van accident. "Do you want to hear some music? I brought a CD."
"You did? Who?"
He pulled a CD from his jacket pocket. "It's Erik Satie," he said, handing it to her.
She examined it, then flipped it over. "I don't think I know him…"
"It's piano music," he said shrugging, trying not to show how much he wanted her to like it. "You don't have to listen if–"
"Put it on," she suggested, handing it back to him.
"Um, okay." He rose off the bed and crossed to the CD player on the shelf. The soothing, tentative first measures of the song hung in the room as he crossed back to the bed.
"Come sit by me?" she asked, moving over to give him room.
He settled in beside her and draped his arm across her shoulders. She sighed, leaning against his chest and shoulder. "This is better," she said.
"Uh-huh," he murmured, nearly dizzy from the scent of her hair.
They sat listening in a companionable silence as the wistful, haunting music played. Bella relaxed, snuggling further against him. He reached over and flipped the edge of the blanket over her. She sighed even deeper. "I could stay like this forever," she murmured sleepily. Momentarily, her breathing became slow and even, and her heart continued the steady, rhythmic pumping that was the beat of his whole world.
His arms tightened infinitesimally around her. "If only that's what we had," he whispered to her now sleeping form.
Thanks to all the readers, reviewers and voters of The Canon Tour!