Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephanie Meyer. This storyline and all original characters belong to the author. No copyright infringement intended.
This is the end, beautiful friends…
EPILOGUE – WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD
Saturday 7 April 2012
Lauren paced up and down, her face pinched with worry.
"This is weird… unnatural… you must be on drugs… shit, if you are, give me some."
Jessica sighed in frustration. "For God's sake, Lobz, do get a grip."
"Get a grip? So, what, you're saying it's not freakish in any way?" Lauren stopped in front of Jess, then resumed her frantic pacing.
"Well, I suppose it is a little freakish, but… well, everyone handles this sort of thing differently."
"That's as may be, but what happens if this is just a front? What if this is the eye of the storm, and halfway through, the hurricane hits and everything goes tits up, eh?" She threw her hands in the air and spun around to look towards the window seat, where her other best friend sat gazing at the view, her knees pulled up and a seraphic little smile on her face.
She turned her head slowly to look at Lauren and Jessica, who were dressed in identical, dove grey, cowl-necked dresses, which ended mid-thigh. Their blonde hair was pinned into elegant chignons, with matching, silvery fascinators, and on their feet they wore silver, high-heeled Christian Louboutin pumps.
Bella's smile grew as her eyes swept over them.
"You both look amazing." She beamed at them.
"Hell's teeth, Bellend, how can you be so bloody calm?"
Bella laughed lightly and swung her legs off the seat so that she was facing them.
"Why wouldn't I be calm?"
Lauren threw her arms in the air. "Oh, I don't know. Because you're getting married? To the hottest man on the planet? Who will clearly be champing at the bit to throw you over his shoulder and take you somewhere quiet—although not necessarily private—to roger you arseways to Sunday?"
Bella threw her head back and laughed delightedly, before carefully wiping a finger under each eye to catch any tears before they made her makeup run.
"Oh, Lauren, you are silly. First of all, we're already married. Secondly, all we're going to do is tell each other how much we love one another before we get to kiss and then go eat some scrummy food. Thirdly, if Edward wants to drag me away for a little post-nuptial rumpy pumpy, I've already sussed out the best place to go—which is quiet and private—and he'll get no argument from me."
"But what if you trip, or forget your vows, or throw up in your mother-in-law's lap?"
Chuckling, Bella shook her head at her friend.
"If I trip, Edward will be there to catch me. If I forget my vows, I'll make it up—just about the easiest thing in the world is telling Edward what he means to me and how much I love him.
"As for throwing up on his mother, she isn't here—something about her husband being ill. And if you're talking about his step-mother, then I'm pretty sure I won't throw up on her, as she actually seems okay—at least, she seems nicer than Edward led me to believe she was. Anyway, who says I'm going to puke?"
Lauren shrugged, but at least seemed somewhat mollified by what Bella had said.
"You've got it bad, eh, Bell?"
"Oh, I think you can safely say, I'm terminally in love," she grinned. "But, hey, regardless of my disconcerting lack of nerves, I still need a hug from my bezzas."
She stood and held her arms wide, and the two girls immediately walked into her embrace as they held each other tight.
"Will the three minge-keteers ever ride again?" Jessica asked wistfully, pulling away a little.
"Hey, none of that defeatist talk. Of course we will. I mean, we're going to carry on meeting up whenever we get the chance, the same as we have since we started uni, aren't we? We can't let life get in the way of friendship—I will always need you both."
"Oh, now stop it, or we'll all end up in a massive snot-fest," Lauren said, pulling away to retrieve a tissue.
Just at that moment, there was a light rap on the door, and Jess turned to answer it. Opening it wide, she smiled at the sight of the inhumanly handsome man standing on the other side.
Dressed in a dark Gucci suit, which accentuated and flattered his lean, muscular body, broad shoulders and long limbs, he looked like a movie star waiting to hit the red carpet. Bella drew in a sharp breath as her heart seemed to skip arrhythmically inside her chest.
Lord, will I ever get used to how gorgeous he is?
Edward stepped across the threshold and stood inside the door, staring at the vision of loveliness before him, and wondered if his heart was big enough or strong enough to contain the adoration he felt for this wondrous woman. As he looked at her, he held up his hand and made a twirling motion with his finger, prompting her to turn slowly for his inspection.
Bella was wearing a sleeveless cream silk and lace dress with a plunging neckline, which adhered to her body and was cinched below her breasts with a wide, cream satin sash, tied in a large bow beneath the even deeper plunging back. The delicate lace then fell straight down and pooled around her feet.
Her long, chestnut hair was gathered loosely at the nape of her neck and then fell in thick, soft curls down her back, with small white flowers woven through it.
He had never seen anything more beautiful in his entire life.
"You… are… breathtaking… spectacular," he breathed.
She beamed at him, willing the tears away, and took another deep breath to steady herself.
"Well, I must say, you scrub up pretty well yourself," she told him, her voice still a little breathy.
Suddenly galvanised into action, he closed the distance quickly with his long strides, and pulled her into his arms.
"How about you and me skip the talky bit and go straight to the honeymoon stuff?" he asked huskily, trailing light kisses along her jawline.
"Don't you bloody dare!"
Edward swivelled his head to look over his shoulder, as Bella quirked her own to one side to peer over his other shoulder.
Lauren had both hands on her hips and was looking daggers at them.
"You owe us a bloody wedding, you two, and by God, we're going to get one. Now, you're allowed one kiss—without smearing the lippie—and then we're all on parade. Right?"
Bella nodded, wide-eyed.
Edward merely turned back to Bella and smirked at her before kissing her lightly. Pulling back, he turned to face the two girls.
"Okay, after you, lovely ladies," he said, shooing them out the door.
He then turned to look once more at his beautiful wife and, smiling, held his arm out to her.
"Shall we, Mrs Cullen?"
"Let's, Mr Cullen," she responded, grinning back at him.
They walked to the door, which was wide enough for them to pass through together. As they did so, the opening bars of "All the Time in the World" by Louis Armstrong filled the air, and with smiles that were impossible to wipe from their faces, they followed Jessica and Lauren through the exquisitely beautiful Grand Hall of Hampton Court Palace, between rows of chairs where all their loved ones and friends sat, all straining their necks to watch the ecstatic couple approach.
"We have gathered today in the love of friendship and family to celebrate a renewal of marriage vows between Edward and Bella. As their family and close friends, each of you has played a role in bringing them to this day and, in various ways, will continue to support and contribute to their marriage. We solemnize this significant event in their lives and enter into this ceremony in an attitude of respect for their steadfast and on-going commitment to each other.
"Bella and Edward, although I am officiating here today, it is not truly in my power to sanctify or bless your relationship in any way, because the two of you have already done that in your hearts. Today, you proclaim your love anew to the world, and we rejoice with and for you.
"Your future stretches out before you, vast and unknown. But it is a great tribute to your belief in each other that you remain, nonetheless, willing to face those uncertainties together. May the pure, simple love with which you join your hearts and hands again, here today, never fail, but grow deeper and surer with every passing year.
"Edward, would you take Bella's hand and make your vows to her?"
Edward turned to Bella, taking both of her hands in his, and smiled down at her. As their eyes locked, everything around them faded away, captivated as they were by the depth and strength of the love they saw reflected back at each other.
"My beautiful Bella, you are my life, my one true love, my soulmate.
"I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I'm with you.
"I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.
"I love you for the part of me that you bring out; I love you for putting your hand into my heart and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you must surely see there, and for drawing out into the light the best parts of me that no one else had looked quite far enough to find.
"I love you because you have done more than any religion could have done to make me good, and more than any fate to make me happy.
"You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by being yourself.
"And as you soothe my trembling soul just by being in my life, I vow to love you, cherish you, support and protect you all the days—and nights—of my life."
He winked at her and squeezed her hands, causing Bella to take a deep breath and blink away the tears which threatened to spill.
The officiant turned to her. "Bella, would you like to make your vows to Edward?"
She took another deep breath to control her trembling lower lip, and then spoke.
"Edward, you are and always will be the love of my life. I know this the same way I know that the sun will rise tomorrow. This is my promise to you…
"I promise to give you the best of myself and to ask of you no more than you can give.
"I promise to respect you as your own person and to realise that your interests, desires and needs are no less important than my own.
"I promise to share with you my time and my attention and to bring joy, strength and imagination to our relationship.
"I promise to keep myself open to you, to let you see through the window of my world into my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams.
"I promise to grow along with you, to be willing to face changes in order to keep our relationship alive and exciting.
"I promise to love you in good times and in bad, with all I have to give and all I feel inside in the only way I know how. Completely and forever."
She smiled up at him, pulling her right hand from his left and cupping his cheek. She felt the truth of her love for him deep inside her and saw it mirrored in his eyes.
The officiant grinned broadly, looking between them, feeling almost like an intruder. But his job was almost done and he wouldn't waver at the last hurdle.
"Bella and Edward, we are all here today to celebrate your love and devotion to each other. Your example reminds us of love's possibilities. So, let it be known that you are joined inseparably in this lifetime, and that this bond continues.
"Inasmuch as you have sealed this renewal of your marriage vows in the presence of those gathered here, it gives me enormous pleasure to pronounce that you are now, even more than ever before, Husband and Wife. You may, of course, kiss…"
His final words turned into a chuckle, as the two lovers were way ahead of him. Edward released Bella's hands and slipped his arms around her waist to pull her to him. At the same time, Bella's arms went around his neck, her hands sliding into his hair and gripping hard as she tugged him down to her. As their lips met, they simultaneously whispered 'I love you', and then they were kissing, deep and hard, barely conscious of the enthusiastic applause going on behind them.
"Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there's no one above you?
Fill my heart with gladness,
Take away my sadness,
Ease my troubles, that's what you do."
Edward sang softly in Bella's ear as they swayed together on the dance floor to Van Morrison. It was the first dance and all their family and friends surrounded them, looking on with happy smiles and a few tears as a spotlight followed them. But they were oblivious, caught up in their own little world where no one else existed.
"What are you thinking, sweet girl?" he murmured, lightly squeezing the hand clasped between them.
Bella looked up from where her head rested against his shoulder, and Edward had to swallow to hold back his emotions. The way the light shone on her gave her skin a luminescent quality, and made it seem as though her head was surrounded by a halo. She was beyond beautiful and he could barely believe she was his.
"Bella…" he breathed.
The hand splayed across her practically naked back pressed her closer to him and he dipped his head in order to capture her lips.
She let him deepen the kiss, opening up to him, as he sucked first on her top lip, then her bottom lip, and then finally slid his tongue against hers.
The unmistakable sound of Emmett demanding they get a room broke through their bubble, and they both pulled away from one another, matching smiles lighting up their faces.
"So, I was thinking, I rather like Esme and Alice." She smirked when he arched an eyebrow at her. "They really aren't as bad as you made them out to be. In fact, Esme is really quite sweet, and Alice… well, she's got a bit of a stick up her arse, but underneath, I think she could be rather fun, if she relaxed and let her hair down occasionally—you should introduce her to your friend Jasper."
"Hmm, I'll take your word for it. And I'm not sure Jasper would thank me for putting him on Alice's radar. So how about my dad… has he managed to charm you as well?"
"More smarm than charm—and he just puts me in mind of a hot towel wrapped around a lump of ice… eventually, the ice will cool and then freeze the towel… oh, bumholes!"
Edward followed Bella's gaze and saw that, as the song ended, and another began, other couples were starting to join them on the dance floor and that his father was now making his way towards them.
Quickly, he looked back down at his wife.
"Can you run in those shoes?" he asked her softly.
Bella giggled. "Wanna find out?"
With that, she hitched up her dress with one hand and put her other in Edward's, letting him pull her quickly through the mass of bodies, the throng opening up before them like the Red Sea, just as his father reached the spot they had so recently vacated.
Their mad dash took them the length of the Great Hall, leaving bemused guests in their wake, until they exploded out of the door, breathless and laughing. They ran lightly down the grand staircase and through another door, until they found themselves in a small courtyard. Glancing quickly around, Edward spotted an arch on the other, through which he could see his Bentley.
He looked at Bella, grinning widely. "Come on, B, let's get out of here."
"But… what about…?" She waved vaguely behind her.
"They're fine—they'll hardly even notice we're gone. There's a free bar, everyone's eaten and the speeches are done. They can have fun without us there."
He put his hands on her hips and pulled her towards him, emerald eyes locked on chocolate. "It's time to leave, Mrs Cullen. It's time to get on with our lives."
He dipped his head and brushed her lips with his, before pulling away again. "I love you, my beautiful Bella."
She smiled up at him, her heart so full she could barely contain her joy. "I love you too, Edward… with all my heart and soul. Let's go home."
I used to have no wolves around me
I was too free, if that's possible to be
No safety, is what I mean
No solid foundation, to keep me.
But the sun's peeking out of the sky
Where there used to be only gray
The wolf is getting married and he'll
Never cry again
Your smile, makes me smile
Your laugh, makes me laugh
Your joy, gives me joy
Your hope, gives me hope
Even when terrible things are happening,
You laugh and that's the thing I love
about you most
Your smile makes me smile
Your hope gives me hope
The sun's peeking out of the sky
Where there used to be only gray,
The wolf is getting married and he'll never cry again
The Wolf is Getting Married ~ Sinead O'Connor
END NOTES: And that is that! Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for coming along for the ride. There won't be any more Wild Child, as I will be moving on to other ideas.
For parts of Edward's and Bella's vows I paraphrased extracts from poem's called 'Love' by Roy Croft and 'I Promise' by Dorothy Colgan, as they seemed to perfectly sum up what these two wanted to say to one another.
Thanks to my wonderful beta, MauiGirl60, whose skills and support were invaluable throughout; she was the first person to see Chapter One, and her enthusiastic encouragement persuaded me to take the plunge and share it with you. To Cared, who pimped this story out all over the net week after week, offering such sound and helpful advice; and to Midnight Cougar who had the inspired idea of a Facebook group and did all the hard work for me in setting it up. Meeting and interacting with all the wonderful people who have joined the group has been an absolute blast, and I'll still be hanging out there to talk about this and other stories which I hope to write.
Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed rec'd and pimped this story to their friends and who said the most wonderful things about my writing. I wish I could buy you all a drink. I absolutely will respond to every single one of you who reviews this last chapter - just make sure you sign in, otherwise I won't be able to reply.
If you're on Facebook, you can still join my closed group, Fiction & Fluffery. Just go to FB and then insert: groups/417364658302809/ after the FB URL – it's where you will find visuals, such as Bella's wedding dress, rings and birthday presents, information and audio teasers (should you want to hear bits of the story read with an English accent!), and where we just generally talk bollocks amongst ourselves. It's also where I will be posting information about my new story. Alternatively, if you would like to view all the visuals in full screen, slide show format, you can find them all on my story blog – link on my FFn profile.