Hi, again. Stephenie still owns all these things.
I'll see you at the bottom.
All the King's Horses – Epilogue
"Up, pease," her little voice asked sweetly. I opened my eyes and squinted at her. "I say pease," she pouted.
"How high?" I asked as I pulled my knees up and lifted my feet into the air. She grinned and balanced her little body on my feet and held her arms out like she was flying.
"All da way, Daddy!"
I laughed as she squealed and tried to balance, though inevitably falling forward. I caught her and kissed her cheeks loudly, reveling in her happiness.
"Are you having fun, Lucy Goosey?" Leah shifted on the blanket and rested her head on my shoulder. Lucy simply giggled and ran off, barefoot, in search of her sister. I kissed my wife's head and closed my eyes again, listening to our daughters playing behind us.
"What do you think?" I grinned and pulled Leah to the back corner of the garage where my father's Mustang sat.
"It's amazing." She touched the freshly painted hood gently and smiled. "You're amazing. He'd be so proud of you."
"You think?" I asked and opened the driver side door and pulled her in. Leah nodded and leaned in to kiss me.
"Definitely. There's just one problem though…" she trailed off and eyed the backseat suspiciously.
"Which is?" I raised an eyebrow at her and she grinned.
"I don't think a car seat will fit back there." She gestured to the back with a nod of her head.
"…car seat? Like…a baby seat?" I felt my heart rate speed up at her silence until she finally nodded and put me out of my misery. I drew her into a kiss and held her as close as I could without smothering her. "A baby."
"Yep," she whispered against my lips. It was almost two years after Eli's death before we even thought about trying again. We'd been trying for a while with no luck, and were almost ready to accept that maybe more kids weren't for us.
"Yep," I repeated, brushing her hair from her face. It was cheesy to think it, but she really was glowing. "I love you."
Leah moved again, and sat up against my bent legs. She pulled a sketchbook into her lap and drew while I watched. Their faces came to life beneath her fingers and I felt myself smile. The first person she drew that wasn't me was Eli. It was right before Lucy was born, and I don't think she even noticed that she'd done it until Caroline pointed it out. After that it happened all the time, but she didn't seem to mind it.
"Oh man, that look," I commented on the portrait of Lucy she'd just finished. Her face was set in an adorable pout, her hair in complete disarray (sometimes it rivaled even mine). "I am not looking forward to her being a teenager."
"She gets it from you," Leah chuckled and closed her sketchbook, then leaned down to kiss me.
"That's scary," I muttered. Truth was, Lucy got a lot of things from me: auburn hair and green eyes, though her stubbornness was purely from her mother…mostly.
"Can we let them go now, Daddy?" Caroline's shadow covered my face and I sat up so I could see her better. I glanced from her to Leah and then to the bundle of green balloons tied to the railing of our back deck.
"What do you think, Mama? Is it time?" Leah smiled and nodded as we both stood and made our way through the grass to our home.
"Are you ready?" I asked from the bedroom door. Leah turned, with a small smile on her face.
"Just saying goodbye," she whispered and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. I stepped inside the room and took one last look at the bright green walls, the only trace of our son left. We'd eventually donated most of his things, though we kept the items that were important to us, or given some to Andrew and Alice and Jasper's little boy, CJ.
"You know it's not goodbye," I told her and slipped my arms around her from behind. I rested my hands over her rounded belly.
"I know. It's just…moving on is a little scary." She turned to me and rested her head on my chest. I brushed my hand over her hair and kissed the top of her head.
"Good thing we're doing it together," I teased and took her hand in mine. "C'mon." I led Leah out of the bedroom and eventually out of the house. Our new home was just a few streets over, and three houses down from Emmett and Bella. It was bigger, with an extra room for an office, and a big backyar- the perfect place for a fresh start.
I untied the twelve green balloons and passed them around, keeping the majority tight in my own hand. Today our son would have been twelve years old. He'd been gone for almost five years, but we continued our tradition of releasing balloons that we'd started the first year after he'd died. We each wrote notes and stuffed them into the balloons, then had them blown up. It probably wasn't the best thing for the environment, but it gave us a little bit of peace for the day.
"I wan' two!" Lucy held up a chubby little hand. I laughed and handed her another one.
"Ready?" They nodded in response. "Happy birthday, Eli," I said softly as I let go of my balloons. Leah and Caroline's followed, but Lucy gripped hers tightly still.
"Luce, you have to let them go so they can get to Heaven!" Caroline laughed and leaned down to hug her little sister.
"But I wan' dem." Her green eyes filled with tears as she looked from me to Leah.
"You can keep them if you want, sweetie," I said as I lifted her up and kissed her cheek.
She frowned and looked at the string in her hand, and then sighed heavily. "Bye, b'oons," she said quietly as she opened her little hand and let go of the string.
"Good job," Caroline praised Lucy as she squirmed out of my arms. They took off again, collapsing onto the blanket we'd spread out. Leah slipped her arms around my waist and pressed a kiss to my cheek.
I smiled as I watched the girls- as I held my wife tightly against me. It wasn't the easiest life, but it was a good one…so good. We loved, fought, and laughed, more and more every single day. The joy that our kids brought us multiplied through the years, and we never thought twice about talking about Eli. He was the heart and soul of our little family, and even though he was gone from the earth we knew we'd never ever stop loving him.
Leah's arms tightened around me and I pressed my lips to her forehead, happy that I had someone as strong as her to walk through life with. I was thankful that she even let me take care of her sometimes. And most of all, thankful for Eli, and for what loving him had helped us to find.
Huge, giant, awesome thanks to JD and Sarah for agreeing to take on this sad little story with me. Your support and hard work has been amazing and perfect and I love you. Thanks to pmu at SheWolfAwards, lisamichelle17 and the PervPack ladies for your lovely recs- you say the sweetest things to me. ;)
Thanks again to all of YOU for reading this story (and any other crap that I've written!), you've made the past few years a ton of fun. It's been an awesome experience stepping into the non-canon world and I've truly enjoyed every minute of it, so if you followed from some of my canon stories, thanks for taking the leap with me.
I don't know if I'll be writing again any time soon, but then again I never say never...and I'm always around on Twitter being incredibly lame, though, so come find me. /IdPattThat
Thank you again,