Hope Springs Eternal Contest
Title: No Need To Say Goodbye
Word Count: 3107
Summary: A promise made in love. A love ripped apart by war. A war to give the hope that no one needs to say goodbye.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.
The dawn of a new century brought about a new life for Elizabeth and Edward. Their wedding was held just weeks before the end of the year, and was everything both could have dreamed of. A white dress, a pristine suit, all their friends and family gathered for the occasion.
When Elizabeth walked down the aisle, she could hardly take her eyes off her soon-to-be-husband. He looked so handsome, standing tall, waiting only for her. She blushed a little, looking down at the church's carpet, then up to her smiling father.
He patted her arm gently, a proud smile lighting up his face. "I love you, sweetheart."
Hushed sounds filled the church. Comments on the dress and how beautiful the bride looked, the whishing of satin against the floor, and the soft footsteps of the bride and her father.
With a final pat on her arm, Elizabeth's father handed her over to the man who had promised to look after her for the rest of his life. The glare he gave Edward Masen was not as hard as it had been the day he came to ask permission to wed his daughter.
"Do you, Edward, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
Edward nodded, squaring his shoulders a little as he looked at Elizabeth. "I do."
"And do you, Elizabeth, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
A cheer and a round of applause filled the church as the minister announced the couple as husband and wife. They were swept up in the excitement and joy, both thinking of the new life they were embarking on, and the new century that was waiting just around the corner.
A year after their wedding, Elizabeth was setting the table for dinner, anxious for her husband to return. She had spent the afternoon with the doctor, and the news she received had her bustling around the kitchen, eager and excited.
Edward caught her by surprise, slipping an arm around her waist as she finished making dinner.
"Good evening, my beautiful wife. That looks lovely." He reached around her, picking a piece of meat from the pan.
Elizabeth slapped his hand away gently. "Fingers." She smiled up at her husband, unable to stay mad at him for being hungry. "Go on. The table's set."
She smiled as he kissed her gently and wandered off to the dining room. With a shake of her head, she went back to finishing dinner, worry flaring in her for a moment.
They were so newly married, and Elizabeth couldn't help but wonder if her husband would be happy with the news she was about to give him.
Picking up the plates, she tried to push her thoughts to one side. They'd have dinner, and then she would speak to him.
She paused for a moment in the doorway to the dining room, gathering her thoughts. Then, with a smile firmly back on her face, she pushed open the door with her hip. Setting the plates on the table, she turned her back for a second as she went to her seat.
When she turned around, there was a small stuffed animal on the table. The white, knitted animal was looking at her with huge eyes, its floppy ears hanging down next to a sewn-on smile.
"What's this?" she asked, looking between her husband and the toy.
Edward sat there, a grin spreading wide on his cheeks. There was a sparkle in his eyes as he tucked into his dinner eagerly.
"It's a present. For the baby."
Elizabeth was shocked. He knew! How? She hadn't even told him of her visit to the doctors, let alone her suspicions that she was with child. Yet there was her husband, tall and gallant, tucking into his meal as though it was the best thing in the world, completely ignoring the shock on her face and the bunny in the middle of the table.
"How… how did you know?"
He paused, setting his knife and fork aside for a moment. "You haven't been eating breakfast for a couple of weeks. It was either you were ill—and you showed no signs of it—or we were going to have a child."
He reached across the table, taking Elizabeth's hand in his and squeezing it gently. "Of course I'm happy! More than happy! Have you had it confirmed?"
She nodded, still in shock that he knew.
"Then first thing tomorrow, I am taking the day off work and we are going to see our parents," he said, his voice full of determination. "And we are not walking."
Elizabeth laughed, smiling so wide her cheeks hurt. She picked up the small animal in her hands, turning it over and over, feeling the fine wool beneath her fingers.
"Are you so sure that we will have a girl?" And with those words all of her tension eased away.
"No, but boy or girl, rabbit's feet are good luck!"
Elizabeth laughed again. She set the rabbit to one side, stroking its fur idly. "I think the rabbit and its feet are supposed to be separated in order for that to work, love."
Though the pain was terrible, Elizabeth would not have changed it for the world. After hours in labour she finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy. He was born early in the morning, with a full head of hair that shone in the morning sun.
Exhausted, she held her son in her arms and wondered what to call him.
The wondering only lasted a few seconds. Just long enough for her husband to be allowed back into the room, the small white bunny in tow.
"Edward," she said on a sigh. "Meet Edward Junior."
Edward Senior came forward, leaned down and gave his wife a short kiss. Then he looked down at his new born son, took hold of a tiny hand and whispered, "Welcome to the world, son."
He handed the small boy the rabbit, and Elizabeth tucked it inside his blanket so he could cuddle it. Still too small to hold the toy, Edward Junior lay in his mother's arms, staring out at the world knowing only the love that was being showered upon him.
"I don't want you to go." Elizabeth stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at the floor because she couldn't bring herself to glare at her husband.
"How long do you think it will be before the war comes here?" Edward asked. "If I go over there, I can help stop it from getting this far."
Though Elizabeth knew her husband had a valid point, she was selfish enough to argue further. "What about Edward? What about our son?"
"I am doing this for him. For you. For all of us!"
Edward took his wife into his arms, ignoring her ridged stance. He hated seeing her so upset, but going to war was something he felt he had to do. Looking over her shoulder, he saw their teenage son, sitting at the top of the stairs. Clutched in his hands was the small rabbit he'd bought. It wasn't so white these days, but Elizabeth cleaned it whenever she could pry it away from their son. From the moment it had been placed in his blanket on the day of his birth, the pair had been inseparable.
This was his family. His son. His wife. The people he loved more than any others. If leaving them for a little while would help prevent them from ever knowing the horrors of war, then he would do it in a heartbeat.
Pulling away slightly, Edward took hold of Elizabeth's shoulders. "I love you, with everything that I am, I love you, but I have to do this."
Elizabeth closed her eyes, trying to force herself to remain angry with her husband. But the warm weight of his hands on her shoulders, and the emotion displayed with every word he uttered made her open them and look up at him. How could she stay mad at him when she loved him so much?
But when she spoke again, she was glaring at him once more. "You come back to me, do you hear me, Edward Masen? You do everything in your power to come home to me and your son."
With a grave nod, Edward took his wife's face in his hands and kissed her gently. "I promise."
A small voice interrupted them. "Father?"
The pair looked down at Edward junior, their son. He was still clutching the now-tiny rabbit to his chest. His eyes were narrowed with concern for his father.
"Take this with you." The teenage boy thrust the rabbit out at his father. "The feet are lucky, and it is a part of both mother and me."
Tears brimmed in his mother's eyes at the gesture. His father took the animal and held it close for a moment.
"I would be honoured."
Edward senior said one last goodbye to his wife and son, picked up his bag, and left. When he stepped onto the pavement he turned and raised his hand. Clutched in it was the rabbit.
Six months after leaving American and joining the army, Edward senior was in France, huddled over a piece of paper, making use of what little break and light he had. The drone of fighting and shells was his only company. Every so often his light was added to as a shell landed close by in a bright explosion, the ground rattling under his feet. Every flash of light lit the small rabbit that had been with him for every second since he left his house.
I hope you and Edward are safe and well. Things here are going as well as can be expected given what we are doing. We had leave into one of the villages a short while ago, and the break was a welcome one. A bed that did not shake in the night was a delightful change.
With any luck, this awful business will be over soon and I can return home. I am hopeful that this will happen before our son is old enough to join me here. I do wish he would not consider it. He is the man of the house in my stead and I would like him to remain there with you. This is no place for a young man. This is no place for any man.
I look forward to receiving the next of your letters.
All my love.
His break was over and it was time to return to his duties. Placing the letter in an envelope, he dropped it off to be mailed home. He put the small rabbit back in his pocket, the thing having turned from bright white to a muddy grey.
There was a smile on his face as he trudged through the mud. Thoughts of letters from home were what kept him going from day to day.
Looking around the trench, his smile slipped. If this godforsaken war lasted too long his son would be joining him. Ankle deep in mud, wearing the same clothes for weeks at a time, sleeping in tiny pits dug into the earth… it was not the life he wanted for his son. Which was the whole reason he was here.
War was not something he took lightly, and preventing such a war from reaching his home was of the utmost importance to Edward. If being in the sodden trenches of France was the way to keep his family safe, then he would proudly stay there for as long as needed.
It was as he was walking to his duties that another shell fell. Cries erupted all around him. The sound was like a living representation of pain and death, gathering and growing until it was all anyone could hear, even eclipsing the still-falling shells.
Edward raced towards the sound, hoping to help. Earth and bodies were strewn everywhere. One of the officers' holes had been hit, the shell dredging up dirt and mud and throwing it in all directions, taking with it blood and flesh.
A man lay close to the debris, and Edward leaned down, checking to see if he was hurt or dead. With steady fingers, he checked over the man, only to find that he had expired. He said a quick prayed for the departed soul and moved onto the next. There was no helping the dead, only the wounded.
The second man Edward encountered was alive. Barely. He was bleeding from a shrapnel wound in his stomach. Edward tried his best to stem the bleeding.
"Medic!" he shouted. His cries went unheard in the din. "Medic!"
Seeing that his cries for help were getting him nowhere, Edward hauled the young man up into his arms. If help would not come to them, then he was getting the boy to help. He was someone's son, perhaps a brother or boyfriend. Had it been Edward's own son, he hoped someone would do everything they could to save him.
Three steps from the front of the medical tent, a shell fell.
The last thing Edward saw, as the pain ripped him apart, was the small rabbit his son had handed to him. It lay on its side, looking at him, covered in mud and blood.
"I'm sorry, my love," Edward whispered.
They were the last words he ever said.
The flu took Edward junior first. It started with small signs that both he and his mother tried to ignore. Then it spread to both of them, and Edward could barely manage getting out of bed. It was not long after that the pair of them could only be found restricted to hospital beds.
Elizabeth could hardly lift her head and knew she was nearing the end. She was not as strong as her son, who lay in the bed next to her. With a great effort, she turned to gaze at her son, tears silently falling at the sight of him.
The sound of the door startled Elizabeth, and she turned slowly to see Doctor Cullen entering the room.
"Sorry to disturb you," he said quietly. "How are you feeling?"
Elizabeth's answer came out as a whisper. "Not very well, I'm afraid."
Doctor Cullen gave her a quick look over, his face set in a series of grim lines. Elizabeth watched him, knowing what those lines meant. She was getting worse.
As the doctor turned to see to Elizabeth's son, she sat up with a burst of unexpected strength. She'd suspected that something was different about the doctor since he first started treating them. The way he looked, and the way he never seemed concerned about such illness in the air. Then there were little things, like the knowledge in his eyes and the way he moved, so differently from everyone else. Elizabeth didn't know what made him so different, but part of her knew.
Taking hold of his arm, she looked up at the doctor and spoke her last words. "Save him. Whatever it takes, save my son. Whatever it takes."
Doctor Cullen nodded once. Elizabeth lay down and closed her eyes, praying that the doctor would keep his word.
Carlisle Cullen stood by Elizabeth's bed for just a moment longer, holding her hand as she passed away.
Confusion flooded Elizabeth when she opened her eyes. High canopied trees grew on either side of her, blocking out most of the sun. Where it reached through, it dappled the grassy ground, creating patches of warmth under her feet as she walked.
There seemed to be only two directions, forward or backward, and though part of her desperately wanted to go back, to be with her son and wait for her husband's return, forward was where her feet were taking her.
Gazing around the tunnel of trees, she spotted small birds fluttering from branch to branch, though they were silent in their flight. A squirrel scurried across the path ahead of her, and yet no sound reached her ears. Yet as she followed the squirrel's path, a spot of white in the grass caught her attention.
Cautiously moving forward, she wondered what the thing was. It didn't appear to be a bird or an animal, and certainly wasn't moving at all. But when she got close enough to see what it was, all thoughts of caution left her.
Sat in the grass was a small white rabbit. The wearing of the years washed away, it was as it had been when Edward had brought it home, setting it on the table in front of her.
But how? She thought. The rabbit was with her husband, by his side as he fought.
"I am so sorry."
The voice came from behind her, and Elizabeth recognised it instantly. She gathered the small rabbit into her arms, hugging it to her chest. When she turned around, she kept her eyes closed. He wasn't supposed to be here. But even though she thought she should be angry with him for breaking his promise, she wasn't. How could she be?
A hand cupped her cheek gently. When she dared to open her eyes, her thoughts were confirmed. Standing in front of her was Edward senior. Her husband. The father of her child. The man she loved above all else.
"Why are you sorry?"
"I broke my promise," he answered gravely. "I didn't come back for you."
She smiled, the grin so bright it rivalled the sun in this strange place. "Yes you did," she told him. "You're here, and so am I."
Elizabeth's smile fell a little. Her son was left behind, both his parents lost. Yet her frown lasted only a moment. "I left him in capable hands."
She didn't know how she knew that Doctor Cullen had kept his word, but here, with her husband's arms wrapped around her, and her son's childhood toy clutched in her hand, she knew that he was going to be perfectly fine.
"Have I told you lately how much I love you?" Edward senior asked.
"Yes, in every letter you wrote, and in everything you ever did for me." She paused for a moment, looking up into her husband's eyes. "But I never tire of hearing it."
"I love you, Elizabeth. I'm glad we found each other again."
"As I you."
The pair walked through the tunnel of trees, unsure of their destination, but knowing that whatever awaited them now, they would be happy. Simply because they had each other.
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