Author's Chapter Note:

Hello, one and all!

Once again I am a terrible human being. It's been far too long since you guys received an update for this fic and I apologise sincerely. In my defense, in that time I've gone to Uni in China and returned to finish my final year of my degree! Only 6 weeks of university ever left for lil ole me!

You all deserve a recap so...last time: Edward woke, with a few slight behavioural changes, mostly jealous and anger. However, Bella has taken the time he's been unconscious to grow up and come to term with her feelings. The chapter ended with her telling Edward she wanted to marry him.

Don't forget you will get teasers and information if you subscribe to my blog. All those already over there will have got the teaser for this chapter about 10 days ago before I sent it off to my wonderful beta :) www . liveindakota . blogspot . com

So, onwards...I hope you enjoy :)

xx


Chapter 17

"Sources close to the family say that the Princess has shown her gratitude and patience towards staff here at the royal hospital, and that her unwavering love for her future husband is clear. Whilst many critics claim the impending wedding at the palace was both a publicity stunt and came from nowhere, this unfortunate situation has shown the rest of us that life tests us all and only the strongest can come through. Many well-wishers who have come to stand outside the hospital believe that the love of a princess is enough to make any man strong enough to fight anything. This is Marcus Hunt, reporting from…"

I tuned the rest out. It was all the same. The world had been camped outside the hospital for days, and the curse of rolling news had descended. Speculation, pointless interviews and hours of no news was making the journalists antsy.

I needed to make another statement, but it was the last thing I wanted to do. They kept talking about how strong Edward was, which was true, but they'd be expecting the same from me, and I felt anything but.

The realisation that I'd blocked out most of my childhood – and treated Edward appallingly – had left me reeling. It had been three days since Edward had woken up, since I'd spilled my inner thoughts to him, since I'd come to the stark realisation that I actually wanted to marry him. Sure, I'd have loved more time – to get to know him, to maybe even fall for him – but as far as arranged marriages went, I knew I'd lucked out. Edward was sweet, strong, caring and I'd have to be blind to not see how attractive he was. I wanted to know him better; I wanted to know what he looked like angry, or how easily he became frustrated. I wanted to know all the bad things, maybe just so I could pretend that he wasn't a million times better than me.

I remembered all the times he'd looked at me in the days leading up to our engagement party, the way he'd hold my hand, the way he'd check if I was okay in a room full of people.

I wanted all those back. I wanted the moments we got so close that my heart skipped, and I wanted nothing more than for him to lean in and kiss me.

When I sat in his room watching him sleep, or even calming him when he was awake, I found myself relieved that I was no longer terrified of the power he could wield over me.

He'd been sleeping on and off constantly. When he was awake, he didn't really know where he was or what was happening, and when he was asleep, he was fitful and hot as the antibiotics sweated out of him.

I held his hand, tried to cool him down, and chattered about nothing, hoping it would help. I headed back to the palace for a few hours each day while his parents came and sat with him and instead of sitting by a hospital bed, sat by my father's bed talking to him.

The worst of his fever had seemed to pass, and the doctor was keeping an eye on him in the palace, saying taking him to the hospital was an unnecessary risk – something about too many germs and diseases for someone with a weak immune system.

We talked about everything and nothing, but I didn't tell him about finally knowing the truth and being terrified of why I'd forgotten. I don't know why I kept it from him, but it just seemed too hard to slip into meaningless conversation.

I wanted to know why before I went to my parents. I knew I had to apologise to them, and I knew they needed an explanation and I felt like I'd be more prepared after I'd spoken to a doctor.

I'd had Ben call in a favour, talking quietly to him the day before when he'd come in to check on Edward, and he'd promised to call and make an appointment with the neurologist that had dealt with my family before.

I was sitting in his private waiting room, ignoring the looks from his receptionist and trying to block out the news from the TV on the wall to my right.

"Your Highness, if you'd like to go in now, the doctor is ready for you."

I nodded my thanks, brushing my sweaty palms down the sides of my pencil skirt as I stood. I'd dressed much more professionally than I had the last few days for this meeting. I think to simply distract me from everything happening.

I knocked and entered after a soft voice told me to come in. The office was four floors higher than Edward's suite and on the opposite side of the building, with glass walls looking out over much of the capital.

A short, balding man approached me with an easy smile and his hand outstretched. I shook it and smiled as he bowed his head in respect before waving to the armchair in front of his desk.

"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, doctor."

"Nonsense, Princess. When my son calls for a favour, and it involves your family, I'm more than happy to help."

I smiled and looked him over, indeed seeing some facial resemblance between himself and his son. I briefly realised Ben must have gotten his height – and hair – from his mother.

"So, what can I do for you? I must say, with my specialty, I'm interested."

I tried not to take offense that he might be interested in the possibility of a Princess having a brain injury.

"Well, I guess…I recently found out that I've forgotten a substantial chunk of my childhood. I mean, I can recall details of it now that it's been spelled out for me, but with recent behavioural changes, I guess I was worried there might be…something…wrong with me?"

Dr. Reynolds looks at me for a few moments, one eyebrow arched higher than the other, processing the information. He seemed surprised and a little bit intrigued by what I had offered.

"Okay. I'm not sure how much help I can be, Princess. I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I think a psychologist might be better suited to your needs."

"I can understand why you would say that, but doctor you've worked for my family in the past, and I knew I could trust you with this. My parents have had no need for a psychologist in the past, and I was hoping maybe you could run a few tests just to put my mind at ease."

"Of course. I can say that, in my professional opinion, memory loss such as this isn't usually attributed to any physical damage or problem, and you might be the first to agree that you have been under a lot of stress lately with the upcoming wedding and your fiancé's illness, but if a brain scan would put your mind at ease, I'm sure it can be arranged."

"Thank you, doctor. That would be much appreciated."

"I will see if the suite is free at all today and get back to you, but it can be a few days before we get results. In the meantime, I ask that you find someone you can talk to, Princess, even if it's just a family member or friend."

I left his office feeling lighter than I had in longer than I could remember, even if I didn't have results to put my mind at ease. Knowing I was doing something productive about it made me feel better about myself, that maybe I was finally putting some effort into my future and my relationship with Edward.

I headed back to Edward's suite slowly, taking my time to process everything and work out what I was going to do. I didn't want to take away from either my father's or Edward's recovery by announcing my own worries, but I also knew Dr. Reynolds was right; I needed to talk to someone.

By the time I'd made it back to Edward, I'd made up my mind of who I wanted it to be, and smiled when I saw them.

"She's a smart girl, Edward. She'll work it out."

I hesitated in making my presence known, but the fact that Edward was awake enough to be having a conversation with his mother made my heart rate erratic and my hands start to sweat all over again.

His eyes flicked to mine over Esme's shoulder, and she turned to face me, rising from the edge of his bed.

"Isabella, my dear, how are you?" She asked, her tone of voice making me feel like she knew what I'd been up to.

"I'm good, Esme, thank you. Do you want me to come back later?"

"No, no, I'll go. I have a charity lunch this afternoon anyway. I'll leave you two alone."

She kissed the top of Edward's head before hugging me lightly and bidding us both goodbye.

To occupy myself, I poured Edward some water from the jug on his bedside table before straightening his sheets, looking anywhere but at him.

"Bella, stop."

His hand landed on top of mine, and I stilled immediately.

"I'm sorry. You haven't been awake or lucid in days. I'm not sure what to do," I answered.

"Well, you could look at me…" There was a hint of amusement colouring his tone, but when I looked up at him, all I found was exhaustion and defeat in his dulled-green eyes.

"How are you feeling?" I whispered.

"Like I've been hit by a bus, and like we've had this conversation before."

"Yeah, you woke up a few days ago…don't you remember?"

I bit my lip and crossed my fingers, causing Edward to look down at them confused. His eyes shot to mine, greedily drinking in all he could find in my gaze and written on my face. I'm not sure what was there to find, but after what felt like a lifetime, he relaxed back into his pillow with a tiny smile.

"What? What are you smiling about?" I asked, annoyed.

"Can't a guy be happy when a girl says she wants to marry him?"

I blushed under his scrutiny before a giggle escaped unwarranted. The surprise of it had the sound dying in my throat before it could go anywhere.

"That's the first time I've made you laugh…"

Edward's statement sobered the moment because we both knew – in a way – that it was true.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here when you woke up. I went to see Ben's father."

A flare of jealousy worked its way across Edward's face at the mention of Ben's name – again. I said the only thing I could to take his mind off his ridiculous notion.

"He's a neurologist here in the hospital."

"Bella! What? I mean, shit, what's wrong?" Edward stuttered in response, his grip tightening on my hand to the point of pain.

I wriggled my hand free and pressed my finger to his lips, a jolt of energy shooting up my arm from the contact that shut Edward up immediately.

"I forgot an entire chunk of my childhood, Edward. I forgot you. I'm having some scans and tests to make sure there's nothing wrong," I shrugged it off, but I think we both knew it was a massive deal that I was barely concealing.

"You remember?" He asked quietly. Until that point I'd forgotten that the last time he'd woken up I hadn't actually told him what he'd revealed to me that night in his bed.

"No," I whispered in return. "You told me, the night of the party…you were pretty out of it. You probably won't remember."

He nodded but didn't say anything, and the silence stretched on between us.

"Dr. Reynolds is setting up a few scans for later today, and I'll get the results in the next few days."

Edward must have noticed the shake in my voice because he finally looked back up at me.

When the silence continued, I cracked. "Say something, please."

"You've been dealing with all of this on your own…"

"Well, I've not really been on my own. There's Alice, and our mums and Ben…they've all helped."

"Please…just, don't. Don't mention his name."

I blinked, taken aback by the strain in Edward's voice. In the past few minutes something has changed and it wasn't just because of my use of Ben's name. I was confused and a little hurt by what was happening.

"Edward, what-"

"I'm sorry. I'm tired. I think I'm just going to sleep."

I pulled back, surprised as he gently scooted himself down in the bed, tilting his head away from me.

I tried to quell the ache in my chest.

It felt like rejection.

It hurt.

I didn't know what had happened.

I had wanted to get everything off my chest. I'd wanted to tell him the truth, show him that I was finally trying, that I wanted our past back and wanted a future with him.

Instead he'd shut me down. He didn't even seem to care that I was terrified of the prospect of going for a brain scan later that day.

His eyes were shut, and I couldn't find the strength in me to demand that he talk to me, that we talk about us. With a few simple words in a tone I'd never heard from him before, he'd taken the fight out of me.

Had he finally changed his mind? Finally decided it wasn't worth all the effort?

I stood up slowly, gathering my thoughts as I stood and stared at his profile.

He was pale, sickly and unshaven with dark circles under his eyes. Maybe he just needed time to recover. There was no way he was feeling any better.

I unmuted the TV and left the remote on his bed beside his arm, so he had the option to watch it if he wanted. Something inside me told me he didn't really want to sleep again. He'd been sleeping for days.

I left the room to the sound of Marcus reporting from outside the hospital.

I took my time as I wandered aimlessly, the thoughts running amok in my brain, but somehow without thinking it through, I arrived at the office my mother had been using earlier in the week.

It was empty now save for a laptop and lots of paper, and I found myself sitting in the leather chair, pen and paper in front of me.

Another statement needed to be made. The journalists and media outside were going stir crazy with no news, and Edward was my fiancé. It was my wedding that was hanging in the balance.

With a quick phone-call to my mother, I gathered my nerves and headed downstairs not thirty minutes later.

Unlike last time, there were hundreds of well-wishers camped outside the hospital on the opposite side of the road who cheered at my appearance. Also, unlike last time, I had fewer bodyguards simply because I hadn't left the hospital in days. And because I hadn't left the hospital in days, I knew my appearance was drastically different. I may have dressed more professionally for my appointment with Ben's father, but I'd barely slept in a week, and my hair was pulled back into a high ponytail to try and tame the mess it was no doubt in.

I waited patiently as a podium with a microphone was set up, and the cameras and journalists got ready for my statement.

With my heart in my throat and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, I stepped up and cleared my throat.

"Good afternoon, everyone. I want to start by thanking all those who have come to the hospital to leave well-wishes and kind thoughts. They have been passed on to myself throughout the week, and I appreciate the thoughts and prayers that are out there for my fiancé. Edward is out of the woods, awake, lucid and definitely on the mend. I have been by his side these last 6 days and have seen him come through the worst of it.

"I have seen his strength for myself and marvel at his fighting ability. I want him and everyone else to know that I am confident in his full recovery before telling you all that we have decided to postpone our wedding.

"Edward's birthday – the day set for our wedding – is only three weeks away, and I want him to spend that time recovering, not worrying about our big day. I hope we can celebrate his birthday in a special way and prepare ourselves for the rest of our lives with a little more room to breathe.

"I have every confidence that we will be married soon, and I myself cannot wait to be his wife, but his health and wellbeing are far more important to me at this moment in time. His attending physician has informed me that Edward will be able to leave the hospital and return home to his family within the next two to three days, and I want to once again thank you all for your patience and thoughts during this time.

"I won't be giving another statement from this hospital. Instead, I will be concentrating on my fiancé in the coming weeks and months and ask that our privacy be respected during this time.

"Thank you all."

I turned, my head held high, and headed back into the hospital foyer flanked by my body guards. It wasn't until I was back in the office upstairs, collecting my bag and coat to head back to Ben's father that I let the fear and tears take over. My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I grabbed the edge of the desk to ground me.

I'd just cancelled our wedding.

I only hoped that Edward had been watching and that he understood my reasons.

I wanted us to be on the same page when we swapped vows, and I wanted that look in his eyes back when he said them.

I wasn't sure three weeks was enough for either of those things.

I was tired of everything being a lie. We were going to start from the beginning, and I only hoped Edward was up for it because his earlier behaviour had hurt too much to continue.


Author's Chapter End Notes:

So, what do we think?

This is a HEA, and this little set back will not last long at all, I promise you :)

Next chapter is already half written so I promise it wont be long before the next one!

See you soon x