Ficawesome Gift Exchange- 3some

Title: An Oasis of Memories

Written for: Zenoneness/Zenone

Written By: One Brave Lamb

Rating: T

Summary/Prompt used:If I had a flower for every time you made me smile or laugh, I'd have a garden to walk in forever.

Edward stood in the backyard, watching her flowers dance in the wind. It brought a smile to his lips and an ache to his heart. Slowly, he made his way towards Bella's garden. Edward cast a furtive glance over his shoulder, assuring that he hadn't been found out.

Alice would not be happy if she caught him out of bed. Again.

His bones protested with loud pops and cracks, while his muscles shook from disuse. Edward glared at the offensive walking cast on his leg . He missed the days of his youth. He yearned to go back, to travel down the winding path of history and come out unscathed.

So with halting steps and fierce determination, he entered the garden.

"What are you doing back here? Making mud pies?" a ten-year-old Edward teased.

"No," said the small brown-eyed girl digging in the dirt with a smile. "I'm going to plant a garden."

"Why?" the little boy asked, taking a seat next to Bella in the grass.

"Because I want to have something that's always here. Even if it goes away for a little while, it'll come back." Her voice was sad, and Edward knew she was thinking about her mom. Renee had taken off a few months prior, leaving nothing but a note and a broken-hearted daughter and husband in her wake. He didn't want her to cry, so he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and drew her close.

"That sounds pretty cool. Maybe I could help?" At Bella's dubious look he quickly amended, "Well, my mom knows a lot about flowers, maybe we could ask her about it." When she smiled and jumped up, eager to get going, he felt like a super-hero.

Edward reached out and let his shaky fingers traipse along the soft purple petals. He had always loved these flowers. They were the beginning of the story.

After roughly twenty minutes of flower talk, Edward was bored. Bella and his mother were talking about colors and meanings and sizes. He decided he didn't really care about any of that stuff, he just didn't like seeing Bella sad. And because of that, he found himself sitting in one of the uncomfortable chairs around the dining room table, mentally cataloguing his baseball card collection.

Every now and again, Bella would catch his eye and smile prettily, her eyes twinkling and happy. He really liked that. Sometimes she'd make stupid faces and he'd laugh. His mother would just shake her head or roll her eyes at them both, though he didn't know why. Moms were weird, he thought.

Finally, when over an hour had passed, his mother closed the book she and Bella had been looking through. He perked up immediately, happy that the girly talk was over and that maybe he and Bella could do something that was actually fun.

"Are you sure you want those, dear?" Esme questioned with a smile, motherly warmth radiating from her every word. She laughed at Bella's furious nod and ruffled her ponytail affectionately. "Alright then, I'll go get them for you while you and Edward play."

Edward shot to his feet at the dismissal, holding his hand out for Bella to take. He was thinking of all the things they could do, like play Mario Cart or go for a walk on the trail behind the house, so he almost missed the way Bella blushed when she took his hand. Almost. He didn't understand that either. Maybe it was just girls in general that were weird.

Bella mumbled a thank you before he pulled her from the room, overly-excited to play.

The next day Edward found Bella in her backyard again, surrounded by several flower pots. He smiled at the way her pigtails bounced in time with the tune she was humming. He walked over and tugged on one gently to get her attention.

"What are those?" he nodded toward the purple flowers.

She mock-glared at him and slapped his hand away before responding, "Chrysanthemums."

"Chysan-what?" Edward's forehead wrinkled as he tried to pronounce the name.

"Chrysanthemums," Bella said again, this time with a smile. Edward tried and failed to say the stupid, purple flower's name a few more times while Bella giggled at his expense.

"So why those? Is purple your favorite color or something?" he finally asked, fed up and grumpy. He didn't like being laughed at, especially by his best friend. Bella shook her head, her little mahogany pigtails fluttering around her face.

"No. Green is my favorite color. I chose these because of what they mean." She smiled up at him, all bright-eyed and sweet.

"Chrysanthemums mean 'A wonderful friend,'" Edward quoted, smiling despite the lump in his throat. He gave the purple flowers one more tender look before moving further down the stone walk. After several tremulous steps Edward paused, staring at the mixture of white blossoms and white flowers with yellow centers. He had never liked them much.

"Marigolds," he muttered. "Cruelty, grief, jealously and sacred affection." His minor scowl softened as he quoted the other flower that mingled with the Marigolds. "Daisies. Innocence and loyal love."

Sixteen year old Edward paced on Bella's front porch, dragging his fingers through his hair in agitation. She hadn't spoke to him, with the exception of a few short sentences, in over a week He was fed up with it. They had never gone so long without talking and as hard as he tried, he couldn't figure out why she was avoiding him.

He knocked on the screen-door again, the third time he had done so, before resting his head against the glass.

It all started when he had asked Bella who she was going to the Spring Formal with. Edward thought the idea was a little silly, a dance for underclassmen who couldn't attend the upcoming prom. She had blinked at him in surprise for several moments before blushing and mumbling that no one had asked her yet. Edward remembered scoffing at her, stating that he knew for a fact that Mike Newton, Tyler Crowley and Eric Yorkie had.

If it was possible, Bella blushed an even deeper shade of red when she realized she had been caught in a lie. She had bristled and asked why it mattered to him and he had shrugged, saying he was only curious. Her face had softened as she relaxed from her defensive posture. She muttered a quiet apology before stating that she was just waiting for someone she really wanted to go with. Edward had grinned, before elbowing her in the side, pestering her for information about the mystery guy, ignoring her scowl and irritated huffs. After several long minutes of his annoying behavior, Bella had thrown up her hands and told him that when 'he' asked, Edward would know.

Edward lifted his head from the door and sighed, still confused. He glanced at his watch and cursed, noting that he only had forty-five minutes to get ready for the dance. He raised his hand to knock again as the front door swung open. Bella stood, stone-faced, dressed in a silky, floor length emerald gown, a bouquet of flowers clutched in her hands. Edward found himself momentarily stunned by her appearance. Her long hair was piled on top of her head in dainty curls. Her darkly lined, burnt-coffee eyes stared into his impassively though high color painted her cheeks.

She looked beautiful.

"Bella, you…I-" Edward started, but a loud rumble and engine backfire cut him off. He looked over his shoulder in confusion, only to be met with the sight of Jacob Black's Volkswagen Rabbit parked behind his Volvo. Edward swallowed and looked back at Bella in disbelief.

"Jacob Black, Bella? Really?" he whispered as he turned back to face his best-friend. Edward hated to admit it, but it hurt his feelings.

Bella knew that Edward and Jacob were long time enemies; they had been since grade school where Jacob teased and tortured Edward relentlessly. Jacob had always been jealous of him and wanted everything Edward had. It all lead to a bitter rivalry that continued throughout middle and into high school. Edward had been grateful when Jacob's father had pulled him out of public education and placed him in the school on the reservation, until Jacob started showing up at every sporting event Edward participated in. They both played quarterback. They both ran the 500 meter in track. They were both pitcher's for their baseball team. Jacob Black was the bane of Edward's existence and Bella knew that.

"Sorry it took me so long to answer the door, Edward. I was getting dressed," she replied, raising her chin defiantly and thrusting the bouquet at him. "These should work just fine with Tanya's dress, you said she was wearing black, right?"

Her acerbic tone caught him off guard, and Edward nodded before glancing over his shoulder again. Jacob was lumbering up her drive-way in a black suit holding a solitary orchid in his hand. He smirked cockily at Edward's scowl, completely unfazed.

"Bella –"Edward began before being cut off once more.

"Sorry, Edward. I hate to push you out the door but as you can see, my date is here and we need to be leaving if we're going to make it to dinner." She pushed past him, making her way down the porch steps, barely wobbling in the dainty heels adorning her feet. He watched as Jacob met her there, holding the single flower out to her before offering his arm once she accepted his token. Bella wrapped her arm around Jacob's before mumbling, "See you at the dance, Edward."

His mood was extremely foul by the time he made it home. Edward couldn't believe that Bella had been waiting on Jacob to ask her to the dance. He laid the simple bouquet of pretty flowers, wrapped together with black silk on the kitchen counter before rushing up the stairs. Edward pondered Bella's withdrawn behavior and snappy attitude over the past week, while racing through his shower trying to pinpoint exactly when everything turned so sour.

Several days after their initial conversation about the dance, Edward brought it up again. He had just been asked by Tanya Denali and wondered if Bella's mystery guy had asked her yet.

Edward wasn't exactly thrilled to go with the strawberry-blonde cheerleader, but she had practically begged and even stated that she had turned down several boys while waiting on Edward to ask her. As presumptuous as that was, he felt bad. He wouldn't have asked and if she hadn't approached him, and she would have been without a date. Therefore, Edward grudgingly accepted her invitation and hoped that Bella would be going. At least that way, he would have one person he wanted to spend time with there as well.

When Edward asked Bella if her guy had asked, she simply shrugged. He mentioned that he was taking Tanya and she told him she had heard as much. At his look of shock Bella continued, stating that the vivacious girl was telling anyone and everyone about their date. Edward had shook his head and laughed awkwardly in embarrassment, not knowing what to say about that. Bella then turned her attention back to the lecture Mr. Banner was giving and didn't say another word.

For three days.

Edward finally had enough of Bella's avoidance, not understanding why she was acting so strangely, and tried to start a conversation with her yesterday. He knew that Bella loved her garden and figured flowers would be a sure-thing to get her talking. When he took his seat, Bella was already in hers rummaging through her backpack. He murmured a hello, that she acknowledged with a nod of her head. After many moment of awkward silence of his part, broken only by the incessant tapping of his fingers on the table top, he turned to her and asked what kind of flowers he should get for Tanya.

Edward smiled when Bella turned to him, but it fell slightly at the look of shock on her face. He asked what was wrong before she cleared her expression and replied that nothing was wrong. He was relieved that she was talking to him and asked if she'd help him with picking out a bouquet. Bella had sucked her teeth before smiling a little too brightly and told him she'd do him one better, she'd make it herself. Edward had thanked her profusely, honestly relieved that he wouldn't have to put any thought into the ritualistic gift. But Bella had merely waved him off and told him that she'd have it ready before the dance on Friday. With that, she turned and offered Edward the cold shoulder once again.

An epiphany came to Edward while he rubbed his wet hair furiously with his towel. Jacob must have asked Bella over the weekend, when she had gone with her father to the reservation for a cookout. If Jacob was her mystery guy, she wouldn't have wanted to tell Edward because of their mutual hatred and that explained their awkward and stilted conversations. What Edward couldn't figure out was the cold way Bella had spoken to him earlier. He worried, as he dressed in his black suit, if Bella would no longer be his best friend if Jacob was boyfriend. Edward didn't expect the pain that twisted his heart, or the jealousy that soured his stomach at the thought.

He only had twenty minutes to pick up Tanya and make their dinner reservations when he made it downstairs. He skidded into the kitchen to grab the flowers, only to find his mother looking at them in question.

"Edward, did you pick these out?" she asked, confusion coloring her words.

Edward looked at her with a raised brow, pondering her reaction silently.

"Why?" he questioned instead. "Is something wrong with them?" Edward hated the suspicion in his tone, but even more so that he felt he had to be suspicious at all.

Esme merely laughed and shook her head at her only son, "One would think that after all the time you've spent with Bella helping her with the garden, you would have picked up on more than what looks good together, dear."

"This flower," she pointed at the delicate white bloom with a yellow center, "is a daisy. It means innocence and loyal love. I'm not sure if that's message you want to send to Tanya."Esme winked, knowing Edward harbored no romantic feelings for the girl, but unaware that he hadn't picked out the flowers she held. "This," she pointed to a robust looking white flower, "is a Marigold, darling. It stands for cruelty, grief, jealousy and sacred affection."

Edward stared at the blooms with growing horror before blinking up at his mother. Esme was somewhat startled by her son's lost expression.

"What is it, baby?" she asked, placing the flowers back on the counter in order to free her hands. "If it's about the bouquet, don't worry. I'm not sure anyone besides Bella would know the meaning behind them," she said comfortingly, while cupping his rapidly paling cheeks.

Edward swallowed past the growing lump in his throat. His mother didn't understand what wrong; she didn't know everything that had happened.

"Bella picked them out, mom. She's the one who made the bouquet."

Edward had been fifteen minutes late to pick up Tanya. After he had recovered from his second epiphany of the evening, Edward asked his mother what flower represented friendship. Edward left Bella's bouquet on the counter, before he raced to the local flower shop and picked out a small arrangement of pink and yellow roses. Tanya had turned her nose up at the flowers and complained about his tardiness. They missed their dinner reservation, which left her fuming. The silent car ride had been riddled with tension and Edward hardly cared when Tanya ditched him moments after they entered the gym.

He had spent over an hour alone, at a table hidden in a dark corner. His thoughts were as jumbled as his emotions. Edward watched, feeling sick to his stomach as Jacob twirled Bella around the dance floor. He didn't miss the way her lip curled in distaste when Tanya walked by. He didn't miss the double-take she gave, when Tanya threw her roses down unceremoniously on the nearest table and wrapped herself around Tyler Crowley.

And though he wished he had, Edward didn't miss the way Jacob cradled Bella's small frame to his much larger one when a slow song came on.

With that, Edward stood and walked out of the gymnasium. He would rather miss everything, than see Bella in someone else's arms.

Edward kept walking, the blossoms he passed mirroring his memories. They were a colorful fusion of different blooms that had once served as a silent declaration.

He spent the remainder of his weekend and the first two days of the week, holed up in his room. Edward ignored the calls and texts on his cell phone, he only ate when his mother forced him and he wallowed in his angst-riddled music. By Wednesday, Esme and Carlisle put their combined foot down. They understood how Edward was feeling, but they refused to let him stay him and suffer.

So Edward went. He rarely spoke unless spoken to. He didn't join in when his team-mates talked about the dance and he left them staring after him in confusion, walking away when they asked about Tanya's behavior and his seemingly subsequent departure.

Bella had noticed his unusual quiet demeanor and asked if he was okay. Edward shrugged her off, much like she had done him the week before. Undeterred, she asked if he had been sick or if his phone was broken since he hadn't returned her calls or texts. Again, he shrugged, this time because he didn't know how to respond. Edward still felt twisted up, his emotions varying from anger and hurt to confusion and something else he wasn't sure he wanted to recognize.

"Are you seriously going to just ignore me?" Bella asked, whispering so she wouldn't disrupt their class.

"What, it's okay for you to do it, but not me? Is that it?" he fired back, keeping his eyes on the dry-erase board Mr. Banner was scribbling on.

"Edward…"she stumbled for words for a moment, before continuing very softly. "Look, if it's about Jake –"

"Don't." Edward couldn't let her finish. He didn't want to hear about Jacob. He glanced at her then, trying to mask his jealously and hurt, "I really don't want to talk about it."Bella held his gaze for several moments, her eyes sad and worried, before nodding once and turning her attention back to the lecture. Edward did the same with a heavy heart and queasy stomach.

Edward had spared no time after leaving his last class. He was in no mood for conversation and yearned for the comfort of his home. So instead of meeting Bella at her locker as and walking her to her truck like he usually did, he ran to his own vehicle and peeled out of the parking lot as quickly as possible.

A small part of him felt like a coward. He was running from his emotions and hiding from his best friend. His problem was what he was running from was intrinsically tied to the person he was hiding from. Edward knew he had to face them both, he just didn't know how.

The next two days went a lot like Wednesday had. Edward remained pensive and aloof, preferring to think about what was going on with Bella, rather than speak about it. Bella stayed quiet as well, only murmuring greetings in the halls and class. She seemed a little defeated when he left biology on Friday with only a nod in her direction and quick goodbye.

When Edward made it home that afternoon, he found his father reading in his study. Edward was tired, lonely and in desperate need of someone to talk to.

Carlisle put down his book when his son flopped down in the chair across from his desk.

"And to what do I owe this pleasure?" he questioned cheerfully, glad to see his son out of his room and away from his depressing music. Carlisle waited patiently while Edward played with his fingers and shifted in his seat. When Edward finally looked up, he found his father nearly smirking at him. With a deep sigh, Edward gave in.

"How did you know you were in love with mom?" If his question surprised his father, he masked it well. So much so that Edward wondered if Carlisle had been expecting a conversation like this for a while.

"I realized I loved your mother after she called me an ass and told me she never wanted to speak to me again," Carlisle chuckled. His laughter only increased at Edward's dubious look. "Yes, son. Your mother and I had been seeing each other casually for a couple of months at the time. I was busy with school, but even more so with my fraternity brothers. As much as I hate to admit it now, I had neglected her, choosing to go out with my friends rather than spend time together." Edward watched as his father removed his reading glasses and rubbed his eyes.

"She dumped you?" Edward prompted, finding himself eager to hear the story.

"Yes, she did," Carlisle chuckled again. "Your mom was fed up with playing second fiddle to a bunch of barbarians. Her words, not mine. So she confronted me outside one of my classes and ripped me a new one."

"What did you do? I mean, how'd you get her back?" Edward leaned forward on his elbows, impatient for the answer.

"Well, nothing at first. I spent that night getting drunk out of mind and the next day nursing a hangover and my wounded pride. It wasn't until several days had passed and my fraternity brothers kept telling me to get over it and find someone new, that I realized what I felt." Carlisle shook his head slowly, and Edward noticed that his smile looked a little sad. "I didn't know what to do and my friends weren't any help. I ended up following her around like a lost puppy. She ignored me at first," his father grinned before continuing, "but when I sat on a bench outside her dorm, in the rain, for six hours, she gave in."

"So you…stalked her, to get her back?" Edward shook his head in confusion, "Sorry, Dad, I just don't see how that could work." Soft, feminine laughter echoed from behind him and he turned to find his mother shaking her head.

"No, the stalking didn't work, but his persistence did." Esme smiled at her husband before ruffling her son's hair affectionately. "He sat outside in a November downpour, just staring up at my window. He didn't leave at all. Not to eat or even warm up for a moment. I started to worry about him catching a cold, so I marched out there fully prepared to tell him to get lost when he fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around my stomach," she sighed shaking her head at Carlisle. "He told me that he was sorry. That he was an ass. And then he told me that he loved me and didn't think he could live without me." Edward found himself smiling at their story as his mother continued playing with his hair. She gave him a gentle but significant look. "Every girl hopes for the grand gesture, baby."

After that conversation, Edward had asked for his parents help. They agreed easily and had even offered suggestions for what he could do. That was how he found himself standing under Bella's window early Saturday morning. Edward knew he could ring the doorbell and Charlie would answer, but taking his mother's advice to heart, he chose to go the more romantic route. At least he hoped it was romantic.

Steeling his nerves and clutching the cluster of blooms he had picked out especially for Bella, Edward tossed one of the pebbles he found near his car.

Then another.

He became nervous as the third pebble clattered against her window pane and she had yet to look out. Edward wondered if she was too deeply asleep to hear it, or if she already woke and was no longer in her room. Just as he was about to give up and go to the door, a sleep rumpled Bella looked out her window in confusion. When she noticed Edward standing in the yard, she opened it quickly.

"What are you doing?" she croaked, her voice still heavy with sleep. "It's seven o'clock on a Saturday, Edward."

Swallowing his nerves, Edward held up the arrangement of lilacs, blue irises and primroses. They said everything he hadn't been able to.

I love you. I hope you love me too. I can't live without you.

Edward laughed as he remembered how scared he had felt that day. Bella had disappeared from her window and he had been convinced that she was rejecting his gift. That she had rejected him.

He had been wrong. She had raced outside in her pajamas and bare feet. She had admitted to being jealous. He had admitted to being scared. They talked for hours about everything. About anything. They were in love. They were happy.

It was then that Bella started telling their story in her garden.

Edward smiled at the cluster of orange lilies as he passed. He and Bella had decided to skip prom the next year and spent the evening wrapped in each other's arms instead. They shared every part of themselves for the first time that night. Edward had never been happier to miss a dance in all his life. Bella told him later that the orange flower meant passion, or I burn for you. He told her that it was perfect.

The roses were next. Bella had carried a single pink rose the day they were married. When Edward asked, knowing she always had a secret meaning behind her flowers, she told him it stood for perfect happiness. For the millionth time in his life, Bella made Edward feel like a super-hero. He vowed, right there and then, to make sure she was blissfully happy until he took his very last breath.

Once he made it to the center, Edward sat down on the marble bench gratefully. He rubbed his leg absentmindedly as he surveyed all the blooms surrounding him. Edward basked in all the joyful memories he shared with his wife. Bluebells for when they spent two months apart because he was the lead architect on a project, but somehow ended up being closer than ever before . Gerbera Daisies for their fifth wedding anniversary, when Charlie gave them the house. Bella had sobbed, saying she could never thank him enough, but Charlie waved her off and told her he wanted grandchildren. Buttercups for the birth of their daughter and Delphiniums for the birth of their son.

As his list went on and on, Edward smiled.

Bella watched as her husband ambled down their garden path, sunlight glinting off his silver hair. She had shooed her tiny friend Alice away, after they noticed Edward in the backyard. Bella knew that Edward loathed being confined to bed and wasn't surprised to find him out of it when she returned from the store. For the most part, Alice was only there in case Edward needed help getting up and down the stairs, but Bella couldn't deny that she felt more relaxed if someone was keeping a watchful eye.

Bella sighed before opening the door and making her way down the path. She couldn't have known, all those years ago, how important this little garden would become to her husband. She watched him lovingly as he sat gazing at all the flowers with a bittersweet smile on his lips.

Edward had been doing relatively well since the car accident six weeks ago. He claimed that he didn't know how it happened, that he had been driving home from visiting a friend and must have missed the stop sign. Bella had tried to ignore the nagging worry in her stomach. She tried to push away the thought that they had lived in this town for nearly sixty years and he had stopped at the very same corner, on a daily basis, for over forty of those. In the end she couldn't and she had gone to the doctor with her concern.

Tests were run.

A diagnosis was given.

Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease.

A week ago she added the forget-me-nots around their bench.

And as Bella took her place by Edward's side, smiling when he tangled her fingers with his own, she prayed that he never would.