A/N: I submitted the prologue and first chapter of this fic to the Fandom for Special Olympics compilation. It's gonna be a relatively short little fic.
Dedication: To Shug and GinnyW. This is Shug's plot bunny (and a lot of her words in this prologue) that I adopted. I love you girls. Really.
Disclaimer: Still not SM. Just playing in her driveway with her awesome toys.
"Give them, O Lord, your peace and let your eternal light shine upon them."
Esme Cullen wiped the tears from her cheeks and, with the rest of the mourners who were gathered at the graveside service, murmured, "Amen."
"Amen," said a small voice to her left, the first word the child had uttered in the three days following her parents' tragic deaths.
A sense of profound relief lightened her heartache at the softly spoken word, and Esme reached down to take the young girl's hand, hoping to offer some comfort to the only child of her dearest friend.
But the little girl didn't want her comfort. She gently pulled her hand away before looking up at Esme with eyes so big and brown and broken that Esme felt her heart break all over again. Then the little girl looked away, her gaze focused on the two coffins that held the bodies of her parents.
A sob caught in Esme's throat. Her best friend and her husband were dead, killed by a drunk driver. It was unthinkable, unimaginable… and yet it had happened. Renee and Charlie were gone, leaving behind their six-year-old daughter.
The service concluded, and yet Bella remained still, refusing to speak or even look at those who stepped forward to offer their condolences. Not wanting to put any additional strain on the young girl's shoulders, Esme glanced at her husband.
Carlisle nodded, instinctively knowing what his wife had communicated. "I'll get the car."
The ride back to the house was filled with a strained silence. Esme sneaked a glance over her shoulder to check on the child quietly sitting all alone in the backseat. Worry and concern battled for dominance; little Isabella was such a sensitive child - how would she cope with such a devastating loss?
The next few days, Carlisle and Esme devoted to the child, trying to draw her out of the little shell she'd retreated into.
It was unnatural for a child her age to be so very still. She seemed to sit and stare no matter where she was. In her room, surrounded with toys, she would stare out the window, clutching the teddy bear her father had given her to her chest. If prompted, she would wander outside only to sit on the porch and stare at the trees. She would pick up things they tried to give her, but her actions were more dutiful than enthusiastic. She had no interest in Carlisle's stethoscope, Esme's books, or any games they tried to play with her. She spoke not at all, though she could be coaxed to nod or shake her head: yes, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was fine; no, she didn't want ice cream.
At the end of the week, Esme and Carlisle's two sons came home from college for the summer. Twenty-two-year-old Emmett swept the tiny girl right up off her feet, tossing her high in the air. His ever-present grin faltered and fell when Bella reacted not at all. She didn't cry out, but nor did she giggle with delighted little-girl pleasure. Unsure how to handle her apathy, Emmett sat her back down again.
Twenty-year-old Edward didn't greet the child right away. Esme was about to chastise him, but Carlisle stopped her, watching curiously. Their eyes followed both children, watching as Edward sat on the step beside Bella without saying a word.
This continued for several days. No matter where Bella would choose to sit and stare, Edward would sit quietly with her. He might read or work on his laptop, but he was always with her.
On the fifth day, apropos of nothing, Edward stood. "I'm taking a walk," he said to no one, his voice unassuming.
He extended his hand toward the little girl.
Esme watched, astounded, as Bella first turned her head, staring at his hand with a look of overwrought contemplation that seemed wrong on such a small face. Then she stood, tucking her bear safely under one arm, and put her hand in his.
Together, they walked out beyond the tree line.
A/N: So I don't plan on updating this again until Notes on the Fridge is complete… which really shouldn't be long. LOL. So maybe a week.