Chapter 60: Epilogue
"Miss Bella, Johnny keeps touchin' me!" a little girl's voice whined from the next room. I put down the book I was reading and walked into the game room, finding little Chrissy giving Johnny a death glare like no other. They were sitting on the floor in front of the TV, which had gone to a commercial break.
"Johnny, stop bothering your sister," I said, leaning against the doorway and crossing my arms over my chest. Johnny and Chrissy were four-year-old twins whose parents had died in one of the school attacks. They were actually from New York, but they had been moved across the country with the other survivors as they tried to keep ahead of the Volturi's armies. Chrissy was a lot smaller than her brother, with golden hair just past her shoulders and icy blue eyes. Her brother also had blond hair, but it was short so it stood up on his head. His eyes were also a few shades darker than his sister's, and currently full of guilt.
"I'm not botherin' her," he said, looking at the floor.
"Then what are you doing?" I asked him, tilting my head in amusement.
"Uhh . . . pokin' her," he answered, and I smiled.
"Well, stop poking her, then."
"'Kay," he mumbled, and Chrissy broke out into a smile.
"What's she so happy about?" Edward said from behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and resting his chin on my shoulder. It only took him a second to see everything in Chrissy's mind and groan. "Poor kid doesn't know when to quit, does he?"
I shook my head and he kissed my neck, both of us watching as the two kids settled back down to watch their show like nothing had happened. I sighed and put my hand in Edward's hair, running my fingertips through the strands. He sighed softly, his breath rushing against my neck and making me shiver. I steered both of us back into the living room and lay down on the couch on my back. Edward lay down on me so his head was resting on my chest, his ear over my heart, and I kept running my fingers through his hair.
"So, how are the classes going?" I asked, and he shrugged.
"Jasper and Emmett are torturing the older kids at the moment. They're doing some obstacle course down in the gym. Esme is cooking dinner for everyone, which is no surprise. Alice and Rose are just wrapping up their English and math lessons. Carlisle just finished up his history class. Marianne and Joshua are half-way through the rune course. They're still working on the simpler runes right now, but it sounds like they'll start the harder ones within the next week or so," he said, his eyes becoming unfocused as he ran through the others' minds.
"Everyone is being cooperative today? No more pranking the other classes?" He shook his head and focused his gaze on me, tilting his head up so he could see me. I smiled softly and leaned up just enough to press my lips to his for a moment.
It was a year since the battle that had almost killed me, and just as Edward had promised, I had my school. I had a three-story farmhouse from the outside, and a 5-story training and housing facility on the inside. The main floor was made up of classrooms, the living room, dining room, TV room, and a huge kitchen, and the upper two stories were bedrooms, eight per floor with a maximum of four kids per room. They were large, though, so the kids never complained. The lower two floors were the battle training room and then the gymnasium, which was basically used for honing balance, speed, and other things like that. It was connected to the Cullen house by a short hallway from one kitchen to the other's. Displaced Nephilim from the surrounding states came to help us build, and we gave them a place to stay as long as they needed it in return. To the human world, it was an orphanage made up of those children whose parents had been killed during the terrorist rampage that had crossed the country so quickly, but the Nephilim and other supernaturals knew what we truly were.
A few months after its completion, we were contacted by the European Nephilim Council about our plans. They were worried about a possible takeover or something ridiculous like that. Their excuse? We were working with vampires and werewolves to train Nephilim children. Edward had to take over the conversation after that, and he gently told them how we were working together to give the kids the best training possible. Once he mentioned who I was, their whole demeanor changed and they wanted to fly us all out to their location to train them. I rolled my eyes so much that day they should have fallen out. I was thankful Edward helped me, though. The Council was a more pleasant version of the Volturi, and since the main school of the U.S. had been destroyed, it was their job to either pick up the slack or make sure Nephilim were still being trained and sent on missions. They were less than thrilled about working with those we had killed for so long, but they trusted me. Who was going to argue with a six hundred and something-year-old Nephilim who had survived a Lycan bite, had witch blood, and was mated to a vampire?
"What are you thinking about?" Edward whispered, still staring at me. I gave him another smile and took his hand in my free one.
"A little bit of everything," I said. "We've been through a lot in such a short time."
"Are you talking about the Council crap?"
"That and the build. We've just . . . been through a lot, I guess."
"That's an understatement, my love," he said, pushing himself up on his elbows so his face was over mine. He kissed me hard for a few seconds before pulling away again. "You've been through hell. The rest of us have been through a lot."
I just shook my head as he leaned down to kiss me again, slowly moving his lips against mine. Both of us were very aware of the children in the next room and kept quiet, moving apart after a few seconds. Edward rested his head on my chest again and closed his eyes with a sigh. I went back to running my fingers through his hair as he moved his hand to my hip, moving the pad of his thumb over the tip of my hip bone.
I had taken months to get used to him touching me or doing anything more than a small kiss, but Edward helped me. Never once did he push me to do anything, and he let me go at my own pace. If I wanted to push myself, he supported me. If I didn't, he understood. I couldn't ask for anything more.
"Esme wants you, love," Edward mumbled, but he made no effort to get off me.
"What for?" I asked, and he shook his head.
"Edward," I said, taking my free hand and using it to tilt his head up so he was looking at me. "What does she want?"
"Right now, she wants to slap me. She wants you to come eat. All of the kids are at the table waiting," he finally said with a smirk. I rolled my eyes and kissed his forehead.
"I love you," I said, watching his eyes sober up. He got up over me again, moving so his chest was against mine, and kissed me again, hard. His hands held my face as he pulled away, his thumbs caressing my cheeks.
"I love you, too. You don't know what it means to me to hear you say that, Bella. It almost feels like my heart beats every time." He pressed his lips to mine again, moving them a little faster than before, but he stopped suddenly and flinched. I gave him a curious look and he actually looked ashamed of himself.
"Esme is getting mad at me. She says I need to stop hogging you or she'll let Alice take you away for a week."
"What did I do wrong to deserve that?" I said, and Alice huffed from the doorway behind us. Edward dropped his face to my chest in defeat, and I put my hand over my face.
"You are my sister, Isabella Cullen, and you saying yes to the rock on your finger gives me the right to forcibly drag you wherever I please. Not to mention having to listen to the two of you at night—"
"Fine!" I yelled, cutting her off as my cheeks erupted with a blush. "We're coming right now."
"I don't want to know what you're—"
"You know what I mean, Alice." She just giggled and skipped back down the hall to the kitchen, leaving me with a burning face and Edward's still buried in my chest.
"Remind me again why we didn't get our own house?" I asked, my hand still over my eyes in embarrassment.
"We did. They came with it," he answered, his voice vibrating against my skin. I shivered at the feeling and took his face in my hands, lifting his head off me.
"We need to get in that kitchen before our mother sends me off to Alice." He sighed, his breath rushing over my face, and leaned forward to kiss me. I kept it short, knowing if I let him decide how long it was, I'd be in Alice's hands before the day was over. Edward still hadn't gotten over his "newly mated" state and was always touching me, be it a brush of his finger across my hand or a kiss that ended with us back in our room.
He got up and had me in his arms in a second, taking my breath away. I was used to him doing that, but the motion still caught me. He ran us both through the kitchen and into the dining room, where the extra-large table was surrounded by all of my kids. He immediately put me down and stood behind me with his hand on my hip, his thumb creeping under my shirt. All of the kids looked up with a start, and a few mumbled a quick "Hi, Miss Bella." I had tried to kill that "Miss" thing, but Esme had it drilled into them within a couple of days.
"Hello, everyone," I said back, leaning against Edward. "How was your day?"
That was the cue for a chorus of goods, okays, and hards. As I listened to them talk, both to me and each other, I couldn't hold back my smile. I had the children I could never have again, the husband I never imagined ever finding, and a family willing to fight with me for what I believe in. I wasn't Isabella Swan, daughter of Abbadon and savior of all. I was Isabella Cullen, wife, mother, teacher, and friend. I was still the Witch, of course, but she had taken a back seat.
The most important thing to me? After six hundred years, I wasn't alone. I was finally free to live my life how I pleased with whoever I pleased, and that's exactly what I was going to do. Come what may.