Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. The wishes are theirs. And mine.
A/N: I have my sappy moments. This is one of them.
Cups Full of Wishes
"Aunt Angela, why isn't anyone buying my hot chocolate?"
The little girl's eyes are sad as she opens the still-empty drawer at the bottom of her spinning carousel jewelry box that she brought from home to use as her cash register. She had high hopes for her makeshift hot chocolate stand, set up to greet cold holiday shoppers as they entered the quaint little bookshop owned by her mother and her best friend Angela. High hopes that so far were on their way to being crushed. One hour had passed, and many shoppers had entered the beloved shop, but not a single sale had she made.
"Well, Lily, sweetheart, I think maybe it's because of how much. We talked about this. And now perhaps it's time to have a sale."
They did indeed talk about it, and the sweet, determined child refused to budge on the five dollars a cup price.
"No. No sale!" She crosses her small arms and sits up straighter in her chair, her chin raised proudly.
"I know you want to get mommy a special present, but I told you I would help you with that. If you just tell me what it is... "
"No. I told you it's a secret."
"I won't tell anyone."
"Yes you will. You'll tell mommy. Best friends tell each other everything."
"Well, surprises are different. I won't tell her about this. Cross my heart."
The little girl shakes her head full of long red curls, the tiny bells tied to the ends of the green velvet ribbon in her hair jingling with her movement.
"You are definitely your mother's child, Lily. Stubborn as can be."
Lily smiles brightly at this, all the way up to her big blue eyes - one of the many things she did not get from her mother - because being likened to her is the greatest compliment the little girl could receive. Isabella Swan-O'Brien is the sun in her young daughter's sky. A sky that has had more than its share of cloudy days for the both of them.
"I shouldn't have left," the man says to the small, dark-haired figure sitting on his couch as he gazes out the window of his new home. Snow covers everything in sight and he feels trapped by it all. "And I shouldn't have bought this ridiculous monstrosity of a house. I don't know what I was thinking."
She watches as he runs his fingers mindlessly through his unruly bronze hair. "Well, I think you weren't, consciously, but it's a beautiful home, Edward. And yes, you should have. You needed to get away from there, make a new start, before you let it destroy you."
He considers the words of his younger sister, and knows they're born out of love and concern, which is precisely why he came here, but it still feels wrong to him. Everything went so wrong for this man who once had everything.
"This home is meant for a family, Alice. Not one man. I left my family behind... "
She jumps from the couch and to his side at the window, linking her arm with his. Her brother has lost so much, and their family pleaded with him to not lose himself, too. They all relocated to this tiny town together, in hopes that there was joy to be found for him here, or at least an escape from the pain-filled surroundings that were consuming him after the tragic accident that took his wife and daughter.
"You didn't leave them, Edward. They were taken from you. You only left the painful memories behind, nothing else. And buying this home, meant for a family, means that somewhere in your heart you have hope to fill it with one someday. It's what they would want for you. It's what we want for you. You're too loving of a man not to share that with someone. You make people's lives better, Edward. And don't worry... I love this house, and I 'll be here as often as you'll let me. I can make as much noise as ten people, and... "
"I know, believe me." He laughs at the pixie-like creature that has always had a tireless supply of energy. "So, what are your plans today? Or is babysitting me it?"
"I'm not babysitting you, I'm simply spending time with my big brother on his day off. And making sure that he doesn't forget about Christmas, which is just around the corner."
"Forget?" He gazes around the room that looks like a merry band of elves spent a month decorating it, and back to his sister, the merry band of elves herself. "I'm pretty sure you've guaranteed that that couldn't possibly happen."
She responds with a giggle and a curtsy, knowing that's exactly what she's done. But she knows her brother well enough to know her work isn't done. "And how many presents have you bought?"
"I thought so."
"I've been busy... "
"Okay, and today you're not, which is why we're going shopping. Aren't you glad you have me?"
"I thank God every day for you."
He looks down adoringly at the sole reason he's managed to keep his head above water for the last couple of years, the truth of his declaration coursing through him. His family was there for him through every moment of pain he suffered, but his sister Alice, more than any of them, is what kept the misery from drowning him. She wouldn't give up on him. No matter how unbearable he was, she hardly left his side. Tears, angry fits of rage, and thousands upon thousands of unanswerable WHYs didn't send her out the door...
Edward Cullen would find joy again, and Alice would be there to see when he did.
"What about this one, Bells? Do you think Lily would like it?" Charles Swan holds up the ceramic horse he's chosen as this year's addition to his granddaughter's collection. The light brown horse with dark mane sits in a resting position, and wears a vivid gem-colored saddle blanket.
"She'd love it, Dad, but are you also prepared to build her another shelf to put it on? There's not an inch of space left on any of them."
"Of course I am, haven't I built all of the others?"
"Yes, you have, because you're the best grandpa in the whole wide world, as Lily says."
He beams with pride at his daughter's use of Lily's often-spoken words, because his only grandchild is the apple of his eye. His only daughter is the apple of the other, and there's nothing in the world he wouldn't do to make them both happy in any way that he could.
The last few years have been sad ones for all of them, ever since the horrible day that Colin O'Brien was ripped senselessly from their lives, leaving Bella a young widow and Lily with no father. Charles Swan loved his son-in-law, an officer on the Forks Police Department, which he was the Chief of, and couldn't have been happier when his daughter fell in love with the responsible young man he'd have been proud to call a son. He couldn't have chosen a better human being to love and protect his little girl, and he knew Bella's life would be a joyful one.
Or, at least it should have been, but a routine traffic stop gone terribly wrong changed all of that. The two young passers through town gunned him down in the street as Charlie listened to the whole horrific thing on the still-open radio. He got to the scene in time, but Colin's final words would have to be relayed to Bella and Lily through him, because though every effort was made to save his life, the battle had been lost before his precious Isabella made it to the hospital. His final words that ripped her to shreds because she knew how deeply he meant them.
Tell them I love them. And tell them if I'd only had a single day of life to live, spending it with them would have been my only wish.
They should have heard his beautiful words themselves. They should have heard them every day of their lives, with smiles on their faces and a long future ahead of them with the man who loved them so much. Charles Swan would have given his own life for that to be possible. He still would today if it could bring him back to them. He'd give anything in the world to see pure joy wrap itself around them and hold them close.
"Should we check in?" he asks his daughter once they've left the shop and are headed to the next.
"We just checked in twenty minutes ago. Angela will call me if she has any trouble with her."
"Trouble with my granddaughter? An impossibility, our Lily is an angel. Your phone will never ring."
"Yes, an angel with a stubborn streak that would rival that of General Custer. Let's just hope she doesn't get it into her head that she'd like to fly to the moon today. She'll have Angela outside building her a space shuttle out of snow."
"Well, it still wouldn't top the helicopter I was ordered to build last winter."
"You said it yourself, Dad, ordered."
"What can I say, Bells, I'm a sucker for little blue-eyed angels with freckles."
"Didn't you once say that about little brown-eyed angels?"
He eyes the smattering of freckles across his daughter's nose and smiles. "I may have."
If he had just one wish, both of his angels would be loved again.
"Pages and Dreams... what a charming little shop. Have you been here?"
"Yes, Edward, it's the one I told you about, oh, I don't know, a hundred times or so."
"I may remember you saying something, but I never remembered to come and take a look. Good thing we're here now. Ladies first." He opens the door to the bookshop and follows Alice inside.
Edward Cullen is an avid reader and great lover of books, and the fact that he's lived in this small town for a little over three months and never set foot inside this treasure is proof of his home-to-work-and-back-again routine.
He's taken but a handful of steps before his eyes fall on a little red ringlet-haired girl seated at a wooden table. There is a sign on an easel beside her, decorated with a child's bold script and red and green glitter that reads:
Cups Full of Wishes
and beneath it:
Hot Chocolate: 5 Dollar$ a cup
"Hello there," he says to widening blue eyes as he approaches the table.
"Hello. Would you like to buy a cup of hot chocolate and make a wish?"
"Five dollars a cup?"
The wide blue eyes narrow as the little girl becomes wary of another complaint about her price. "Yes, five dollars."
Edward smiles, hoping to soften her quickly changing demeanor. "I would like two cups, please. And two wishes."
"Five dollars each," she replies, enunciating each to make sure there's no confusion.
"Yes. So, that's ten dollars for two, right?"
"Yes, sir." Blue eyes widen once again and she smiles for the first time as she puts the money into the little drawer and places two foam cups in front of her. She picks up the stainless steel carafe with two hands and the woman who has been watching from a few feet away rushes to her side to take it from her.
"Let me help you."
"I can do it myself," the child insists, glaring at her.
The woman raises her hands in defeat but watches nervously as the little girl begins to slowly tilt the carafe. One of the cups topples over as she bumps it the slightest bit. She puts down the carafe and rights the cup, glaring at the woman a second time when she reaches for it, and tries again. The same thing happens.
"Honey, please let me... "
"No. I said I can do it."
"Of course you can," Edward says, squatting down in front of the table so that green eyes can look straight into determined blue ones. "But would it be alright if I held the cups still while you pour?"
She considers this for a moment and decides it would be okay. "Yes, thank you. That would be quite helpful."
"But sir," the woman interjects in a panic, her eyes glued to his hands. "It really is hot... she could- " She stops speaking, the look on Edward's face silencing her, which is what he hoped for, and watches the child pour the hot liquid into the cups with obvious held breath.
"Thank you, it looks delicious." Edward picks up the expertly poured cups from the table and is met with a panicked "No!"
"Put them down, Edward, she isn't finished." It's the first time Alice has spoken since he first laid eyes on the little girl. She's been watching their exchange in rare silence beside him until now.
"Oh, well I'm sorry," he says, placing them back on the table and putting his hands behind his back in a silent gesture of I won't touch.
The little girl emits a small giggle and opens a canister, then picks up a small pair of tongs. "You can't have hot chocolate without marshmallows."
"I love marshmallows!" Alice squeals excitedly.
The child's smile falls as Edward says that he doesn't need any. He instantly realizes his mistake, though, with a little help from a smack on the arm from his sister, and says he would love some.
"They're special marshmallows. They're the wishes." The child's eyes flit to her sign and Edward's follow, and then to her tiny hand as she reaches into the canister with the tongs. One by one she places several miniature star-shaped marshmallows into the cups and then looks up. "Stars are for wishing on."
Edward smiles at the little girl as she carefully holds a cup out to him. She smiles back as he hands it to Alice and then takes his own. They both close their eyes, making their wishes, and then take careful sips. Alice hums her delight and the little girl waits anxiously for a second approval.
"Definitely worth five dollars," he says, making her face light up as he hoped it would. "You're going to be rich by the end of the day."
The light falls away instantly. "No, everyone else thinks it's too much."
"I don't believe that," he replies, shaking his head and taking another sip.
"It's true. Look." She turns her jewelry box to face him and opens the drawer, revealing the lone ten dollars inside.
"Well, that just won't do." He eyes the decorative box, trying to determine her wish. "You can't buy a pony with ten dollars."
"A pony?" she asks, confusion on her face.
"There are ponies on your box. Maybe you want a real one for Christmas and you're trying to save up in case Santa can't fit one on his sleigh?"
"No, I didn't ask Santa for that. I have lots of ponies and horses. Not real ones, but that's okay. And my wish isn't for me. It's for my mom, and it's not a pony. But it might cost more than a pony... that's why I'm charging five dollars, except no one but you will pay that much."
Edward nods at the sweet child and looks up at the woman. "Quite the little girl you have here."
"That's not my mom," the girl declares, bringing his eyes back to her. "She's my aunt. Well, not really, but I call her that."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Forgive me for assuming."
"Don't be sorry. Thank you for buying my hot chocolate. I hope your wish comes true."
"Well, thank you. I hope yours does, too. For your mom. She's very lucky to have you."
The light returns to her face, brighter than ever. "That's what she says."
"I bet she does." He's smiling as he walks away, pulling his phone from his pocket as he does.
"Aunt Angela, hurry! They're waiting!"
She rushes from the back with a freshly filled carafe and another package of star shaped marshmallows. "I'm moving as fast as I can, honey. Here you go."
The bookshop is filled with customers, buying books galore and more hot chocolate than they can keep up with. Reinforcements were called in, to bring more of everything, and everyone has been bustling about like busy elves in Santa's workshop.
"Thank you for being my assistant, Alice."
"You're very welcome, Lily. Selling cups full of wishes is fun!"
"So is drinking them," says the next customer, a now-familiar voice.
"Edward, why are you back in line?" Lily asks with narrowed eyes and hands on her hips.
"I'm thirsty. And I want to make another wish."
"Oh. Well, everyone should get to make as many wishes as they want." Alice pours the hot liquid - an agreed upon duty - and Lily adds the stars and holds the cup out to him. "I hope all of yours come true."
"Thank you, Lily." He tries to give her his five dollars and she shakes her head. His brows raise in confusion. "Did the price go up?"
"No. This wish is free. You already bought three cups, and one for Alice."
"Oh, no it's not!" Alice declares, taking the money from his outstretched hand. "He's paying, and besides, taking his money is fun!"
"But I'm the boss and I don't want him to pay. I'm giving him a wish."
Alice pouts childishly and holds the money back out to him. He takes it and lays it on the top of the jewelry box. "That's very sweet of you, Lily, but I really want to help make your wish come true."
"You already are."
"How am I doing that?"
"I know what you did, Edward."
"Me? What did I do?"
"You called people and told them to come here and buy my hot chocolate and mommy's books."
"Hmm... You know about that?"
"Well, Alice is a tattletale."
Alice gasps, making Lily laugh, but she corrects him quickly. "Alice didn't tell me. I saw you talking on the phone, and then a bunch of nice people came, and you know all of them, even though you're trying to act like you don't. I'm observant. Grandpa says I see everything. He says I'd make a great detective."
"Well, I think he's right. But in my defense, I didn't tell them to buy anything. I just told them about the hot chocolate, and that they could make wishes if they came and got some. They all wanted to make wishes, so they came. And they chose to buy your mommy's books all by themselves, just like me."
"You have a big pile over there. I saw that, too. My mom would smile if she was here and saw it."
"I wish she was here then, because I like to see people smile, but maybe you can tell her about it and she'll smile for you."
"She smiles for me every day, but I am going to tell her. I'm going to tell her about the nice man with green eyes and messy hair that had a big stack of books and... "
"You think my hair is messy?" Edward asks with exaggerated shock, interrupting the child, as Alice laughs beside her.
"Yes. Very messy. But I like it. It's charming."
"Yes. Grandpa says I'm charming. Mostly when I say things that make peoples' mouths open, but then they smile after. I think your hair is like that."
"Well, you are definitely charming, Lily. I am honored that you think my messy hair is worthy of sharing your title. Can I ask you a question?"
"You've told me things your mommy says, and your grandpa... I'm curious what your daddy says about you. Can you tell me something?"
She doesn't hesitate for a single second, her father's words always with her. "He said he loves me. And he said if he had a single day of life to live, spending it with me would have been his only wish. And mommy, too. That's what he told grandpa to tell us."
The mix of pain and joy in the little girl's eyes is like a vice on Edward's heart, and he can't stop the tears that start to fill his own as he grips the understanding that this precious child lives her life without her father. His voice cracks as he speaks again. "That's very special, Lily. Thank you for sharing that with me. I'm sorry if I shouldn't have asked you that."
"It's okay. Don't be sorry. Daddy isn't here anymore, but he had more than one day with us, so I know his wish came true. And he will live in our hearts forever. Well... mine, because even though it hurts a lot, it's not broken."
"Lily, honey, what do you mean by that?" Angela, who's been standing behind her with tears in her own eyes for the last few minutes, asks now.
"Nothing," she answers, annoyed that she overheard. "Is it time to close now?"
She's surprised by the child's openness with this man who was a stranger to her until a few hours ago, and a little hurt that she suddenly feels like an intruder, but doesn't push the issue. "Well, if you don't want mommy to see your hot chocolate stand, then we should close it up, because she'll be here soon."
A woman about to leave the shop with an armload of wrapped books and Lily's hot chocolate warming her belly catches the child's attention as she says goodbye. "Good night, Alice. Good night, Dr. Cullen."
They bid her goodbye and Edward returns his gaze to wide blue eyes. "What's wrong, Lily?"
"You're a doctor?"
"You fix things that are broken."
"Well, I try to as hard as I can."
Lily runs to the register where Angela has just finished with another customer. "I need my money that you put away when my drawer got full."
"Why, honey? It's safe here right now. And we should put the rest away, too."
"No! I need it! Right now!"
She stomps her feet, the beginnings of a tantrum Angela doesn't want to escalate. "Now!"
"Okay... but be careful. You don't want to lose any. It's a lot of money."
"It's for mommy, I'm not going to lose it!"
She hands her the envelope from under the register drawer and watches her run back to the table and empty the contents of her jewelry box into it. She makes her way quickly to the table herself as Lily hands the envelope to Edward.
"Do you want me to help you count it?" he asks her, crouching in front of the table.
"No. Well... I guess you have to. Then can you tell me if it's enough?"
"Sweetheart, I don't know what you want to get your mommy, but I'm sure it's enough. You worked very hard today giving people wishes."
He glances up at Angela who shrugs unknowing, and back to Lily. "Is it still a secret or can you tell me? Then I can tell you for sure if it's enough."
She looks up at Angela untrustingly and she covers her ears. It's enough to satisfy her, but she speaks quietly just in case. "My mommy needs a new heart. That's what I want to get her. And you're a doctor, and I want you to give it to her. You can make my wish come true."
It's the last thing Edward expected to hear from the small mouth. The knowledge that this little girl has already lost her father, and her mother is ill...
He fights to maintain his composure as he tries to get a clearer understanding. "Your mommy is very sick?"
"Not sick like a cold."
"No, she's much more sick than a cold, isn't she?"
"Ummm... kind of. I don't know. But you're a doctor and you'll know. You can fix her if it's enough money. Is it enough?"
Angela, who's heard every word through her loosely covered ears, tries to let a put-on-the-spot Dr. Cullen off of the child's hook for a moment. "Lily, can I uncover my ears now?" She asks the question loudly, trying to ensure that she believes she couldn't hear anything.
Lily crosses her arms angrily at the interruption, because she hasn't gotten the answer she hopes for yet.
Angela uses the little girl's silence as an opportunity to continue, before she decides to erupt into a tantrum. "I'll cover them again in a minute if you want, but right now I think you should go and find a hiding place for your sign before mommy comes. Maybe Alice could help you find a good place."
"I would love to help. I'm good at hiding things," Alice says, looking at Lily for approval.
She frowns, but really doesn't want her mother to see it, so she nods and takes her sign from the easel. She starts to walk away with Alice but turns back to Edward. "You can count it while we're gone. Then you can tell me if it's not enough."
It escapes no one that her words are less hopeful than before, Edward's pained silence perhaps crushing it a bit.
"Can you tell me about her mother's condition?" he asks Angela as soon as Lily is out of earshot. "Or give me her name so I could... "
"No, that's just it... her mother isn't sick."
"She's not? But she said... "
"No, not at all. I don't know why she told you that. Lily is a very honest child, I don't understand what this is about. She's told you more than she's told me... She's very drawn to you, enough to tell you her secret, but what she told you doesn't make any sense."
"Actually, it makes perfect sense," he says quietly as they near, returning quickly from their mission.
"Did you count it? Did we sell enough wishes?"
"No, I didn't, Lily, because I've been busy thinking about your special secret. Can I ask you another question?"
"Is it a secret question?" Her eyes dart to Angela, who covers her ears again and moves a few feet away, before removing her hands and busying herself with a display. Alice follows suit, and browses books on a nearby shelf.
Edward smiles at her obvious satisfaction with being given privacy. "I wanted to ask you about your wish. Would that be alright?"
"Okay, but I already told you, I want to get mommy a new heart."
"What does mommy tell you about her heart?"
"That she loves me with all of it."
"Well, of course she does. Does she tell you anything else? Like that she needs a new one?"
"No, she didn't tell me that."
"But you're very observant, so maybe she didn't have to. You see everything... "
"Sometimes I hear things, too."
"Did you hear mommy talk about her heart?"
"I wasn't trying to listen. I was sleeping and I woke up while mommy was talking to Grandpa."
"And you heard something about her heart."
"Yes. Grandpa told mommy to open it. But she said she couldn't because it was broken. It made me sad. I've been wishing on stars every night, but nothing happened, except that there was snow every morning when I woke up. I wished for that too, and when it came I wished even more on the snowflakes. I made wishes on a wish that came true. And then I saw on tv that a man got a new heart at a hospital. That's why I was selling wishes, because mommy always pays when we go to the doctor, so I knew I needed money to get her a new heart. And I thought people might buy my hot chocolate if they got to make a wish. They could make wishes on my wish that they could make come true. But nobody would buy it. And then you came and bought some, and all of those other people you told about the wishes. And you're a doctor. And I think that when I wished on all the stars and snowflakes, maybe my wish did come true. They sent you."
"Lily, if I could... "
Edward watches the hopeful child run excitedly to the man that just came through door of the bookshop. He sweeps her into his arms and looks at her like she's the brightest star in the sky. The bells on the door chime again and his eyes are pulled to it. Pulled, and hypnotized, inexplicably, by the pale, dark haired woman that stands just inside. His eyes don't leave her, can't, and he stands immobile as she kisses Lily's smiling face.
Alice, who was watching her brother from a few feet away, now comes to stand at his side, linking her arm with his with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. Lily isn't the only one who sees.
Lily, who's eyes meet hers, and then Edward's as her bell of a voice rings into the air. "Mommy, Grandpa, come and meet my new friends!"
Charlie sets her on her feet and she takes them each by the hand and leads them to where they stand. She gestures between them and makes her introductions. "This is Alice and Edward. They're brother and sister. Alice is the best assistant in the whole world. And Edward is a doctor. That part's important. He fixes people." She beams as she says this and continues, "And this is my mom Bella and my grandpa Charlie. Oh! And Mommy, Edward bought a whole giant stack of your books! They're over there!"
Bella Swan-O'Brien is breathless as she pulls her entranced brown eyes from similarly afflicted green ones to follow her daughter's pointed finger. She does indeed smile at the pile of wrapped books behind the counter, and then at her daughter before her gaze is pulled back to the man before her.
The man who smiles at her daughter with wondrous adoration before his eyes move back to hers. Green eyes to brown. Pain to pain. Renewed hope to renewed hope. Brought together by a child's.
An observant child that now looks between her mother and her new friend and doesn't miss a thing. And who has another secret she wants to share.
She looks up at her grandfather, who she thinks sees what she sees, but she wants to tell him anyway. She tugs on his arm and holds hers in the air for him to pick her up. He does and she whispers in his ear, though not so quiet that no one else can hear...
"Edward is going to fix Mommy's broken heart."
Thanks to her cups full of wishes, she knows her greatest wish is going to come true. She can already see it in her mother's eyes.
So... I initially intended for this to be a O/S, but there may be an update or two, so I'll leave it open. And the M rating - that I know doesn't seem to apply - is just in case one of them gets a little saucy. No promises either way.
And if I don't see you all again before... Merry Christmas! I hope all of your wishes come true!