There is not a second that passes by on the earth where a photo is not being taken.
They say that that a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps they're right. But to him, some pictures are worth so much more than that.
Picture are memories. Every picture has a story. Sometimes the story is of a beautiful place and the times associated with it…sometimes the story is of a person whether they be filled with joy or sorrow. But all of them have words to tell.
In the couple months since his wife had died, he had looked at pictures a lot. Sometimes it hurt and tears would slip down his face as he remembered the taking of the picture. Other times, a smile would spread on his face and he would be reminded of just how lucky he had been.
Sometimes, pictures are your only reminder.
Bella was 25 and single. Those women who have been in that position know that one attends a lot of weddings during that time. And being single sometimes sucks.
She had Landon, but they hadn't officially defined their relationship, and he was in Michigan for the weekend, she was still for all intents and purposes single.
In the past four years, Bella had been a bridesmaid in six weddings. Taylor and Edward's had been the second, but the only one she had been maid of honor in. Though, she suspected since Jasper was going to propose soon that she would get the job in her sister's wedding.
At Emmett and Rosalie's wedding though, she didn't feel single. She could credit that in part to Taylor's living will which had put her and Edward under the same roof with a toddler.
On the day of their nuptials, Bella found herself crazy busy. Not only did she have Rose to attend to, but she also was in charge of Molly for the day. Edward, being Emmett's best man, was with him and the other groomsmen doing whatever manly shit guys do before a wedding. As Molly was the flower girl, she stayed with the women and Bella.
Rosalie looked absolutely gorgeous in her dress. She was stunning. Those were the only words Bella could form as she stared at her college roommate. Her dress was a combination of lace and sparkles and she had a long veil that she was wearing over her face for her walk down the aisle because "God dammit, I'm traditional!"
"Rose, do you even realize how beautiful you look?" Her sister Joy asked with a huge smile on her face.
The bride let out a teary laugh, obviously having trouble containing her emotions. "Thanks, sis."
"Emmett is one lucky ass guy," Rose's cousin, Annie, chimed in.
"Don't worry, he knows it," Rosalie giggled.
Bella looked on with a smile, content to be the quieter bridesmaid for once in her wedding career. It was Taylor who should have been sitting where she was today. Bella had focused most of her energy in the morning of ignoring that thought, and when that didn't solve it, she worked through the thought. It had taken a while for her hair to get done, and in that time Bella had been quiet trying to gather her strength in any way that she could.
Also, the other two bridesmaids didn't have a toddler walking around trying to explore everything she found.
"I have flowers!" Esme exclaimed as she walked into the room where they had been getting ready. She was carrying a card board box that held their bouquets. Rose had been a little antsy about their later delivery, but it worked out.
All the ladies excitedly rushed over to the mother of the groom and opened the box. The color scheme of the wedding was charcoal grey and yellow. It was a flawless combination that highlighted Rose's great taste. The bridesmaid dresses were short and chiffon, but they were gorgeous. They were wearing yellow heels and a pendant necklace that had a yellow stone. When they opened the box, they were assaulted with yellow.
"Joy, here's yours," Rose said, handing her a bouquet, "Annie…this one's yours. And, Bella, this one is yours."
Bella took the flowers out of Rose's hand. Instead of the flowers drawing her attention, the first thing that caught her eye was the small silver rectangle that was attached to the binding of the stems.
Rose watched as Bella turned the somewhat heavier silver square over. Bella's breath caught in her throat when she saw in black and white a picture of her best friend.
Taylor had a giant smile on her face and her wide eyes sparkled, her blonde hair flung carelessly in the wind. Bella recognized the picture from Edward and Taylor's engagement photos. The frame wasn't big, but at 2' by 3', it wasn't unnoticeable.
"Is it okay?" Rose asked softly. Bella looked up at her, at a total loss for words. "I mean I know I mentioned it over the 4th…but…" she trailed off.
Mutely, Bella nodded.
"It's beautiful," she finally whispered.
Rose pulled Bella into a close, tender hug.
"I thought about putting it on mine…but she meant so much to you. You deserve to be the one to make sure her smile is seen."
Bella remained too choked up to comment. Rose gently released her from the embrace and when they saw the mirrored tears in each other's eyes, they gave watery giggles.
"Trying not to mess up the makeup," Rose laughed, fanning at her face to stop the tears from leaking out.
Bella laughed, blowing wind in her own face.
"Do you think you could take the boutonnieres to the guys?" Rose asked, looking over at the box to see the flowers and pins that the men needed to pin on their tuxes.
"No problem," Bella agreed. "I'll get Molly out for a walk too."
So, Bella walked around the church to where the men's designated area was. Molly walked behind her, not needing a hand to steady her. Her walk had gotten far less wobbly and as long as the pace was reasonable, she could keep up easily. It scared both Edward and Bella how fast she was growing.
Edward happened to be coming out of the room when they reached it.
"Hey!" he said, immediately brightening.
When Molly saw her father, she excitedly exclaimed, "Dada!"
Edward beamed as he scooped the little girl up into his arms. "Hello, baby girl."
"You clean up nicely," Bella commented, looking at the handsome black tux.
"Same could be said about you. You look beautiful," he said, grinning as he looked at the dress she was wearing. Well, he hardly glanced at the dress but did gaze at her face.
"I have boutonnieres for you gentlemen," she said, holding up the small box with the one that was holding her bouquet with.
Edward was exceedingly confused. "Bouto-what?"
Bella rolled her eyes. "The flowers, Edward."
"Oh!" Realization dawned on his face. "Yeah, I was just sent out to find the 'the flower shit,' actually."
"How's Emmett?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
Edward smirked. "Oh you know, freaking out like you wouldn't believe."
Bella grinned. She could imagine Emmett hyperventilating behind that door.
"Well, why don't you send Molly in there with the flowers, she is looking pretty cute you know." Bella tickled the toddler's belly, producing a lovely giggle.
Edward smiled. He bounced Molly in his arms and cooed, "You're looking adorable as ever, sweetheart."
Not understanding the words, Molly merely giggled back.
Soon, they held the door open for Molly who had been given the small and lightweight cardboard box. Before the door closed behind her, they heard Emmett's boom, "Squirt! It's good to see you, buddy!"
Bella laughed to herself and Edward shook his head as the door closed into place.
Unconsciously, Bella shifted her bouquet as an odd silence filled the hallway. Edward caught sight of something metallic by Bella's hands and his eyes narrowed.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Huh?" she wondered. She followed his line of sight and saw that they were looking at the picture of Taylor.
Wordlessly, Bella handed him to bouquet to examine.
Edward looked at the picture with an unreadable expression. Finally, after what felt like a long time, he looked back up and met Bella's gaze.
In those expressive green eyes of his, Bella saw healing. She saw the spark of the man she had once known.
She saw the strength that she knew he had had all along.
"You know, it's weird…I miss her and I love her…but I think I've finally accepted what happened."
Bella offered him a soft smile.
"You really are amazing."
Edward returned the gesture with a shy smile of his own.
"So are you, Bella. Truly amazing."
Molly managed to make it down the aisle.
Edward and Bella both felt ready to collapse in relief when the little girl made it down the center of the church. True, she only actually dropped a few petals on the way, but she soaked up the attention.
Bella and Edward both beamed as they watched the beautiful toddler. She smiled at people who were all grinning at her and made her way slowly. When she saw Emmett at the end of the aisle, she took off in the closest thing to a run that the two had ever seen. Molly threw herself at Emmett, who laughed and scooped her up before setting her down when Bella made it down the aisle.
The ceremony had been lovely, even more beautiful than anyone had anticipated.
Bella watched with a smile on her face as Emmett stood nervously and Rose grinned tearily. When it was time to say their vows and the wedding party stood alongside the couple, Bella struggled to pay attention.
As the priest spoke about the importance of commitment, Molly could be heard babbling quietly while Edward and Emmett's grandma tried to quiet her. Bella grinned and caught Edward's eye.
Edward shook his head and rolled his eyes, mouthing "Little shit," to Bella. The grin of fatherly amusement made Bella smirk back and try not to laugh when Molly made another unintelligible noise.
When the ceremony was finished and Mr. and Mrs. Emmett and Rosalie Cullen were presented, there was a flurry of activity. Once the wedding party had exited the church, they were all ushered over to a nearby park where pictures were taken, while the guests made their way across town to the steamboat which the reception would be held on.
Royce Hale had been the groomsmen Bella had had to walk down the aisle with, and so far, she wasn't a fan of the man. He had an arrogant, asshole kind of personality and had his hand on Bella far more than she would have liked. So she had to grin and bear it when she was forced to stand next to him for endless pictures.
At one point during the pictures when Edward had been holding Molly and Bella feeding her Cheerios, one of the photographers approached them. "Can I get a picture of the lovely family?"
Bella's brow furrowed slightly, but Edward shrugged and replied, "Sure."
So, Edward adjusted Molly so that she was sitting on and against his left arm and facing the camera. He then placed his hand on Bella's waist and pulled her against the side of him, his warm arm pressed against her back. The three (including a bubbly Molly) smiled as the photographer enthusiastically snapped a few pictures of them.
"Just beautiful!" the woman smile before she flitted on to the next person. "A man between his two girls."
Once all the possible picture poses were taken, they all piled into a hummer limo which had absolutely been Emmett's idea. They walked on the docking board from the land to the boat the same way they had walked down the aisle. Bella held Molly in her arms, not wanting her to somehow end up in the water, and Royce put his hand a little too low on her back as they walked.
The evening was fun and pleasant. When they arrived and the grand steamboat started down the Mississippi, cocktail hour was nearly finished. After only one drink, everyone attending the wedding was settling into their seats. The food was delicious and the talk around the head table which was centered around the adoring couple, was fun and upbeat. Bella found herself laughing and smiling, and saw out of the corner of her eye that Edward was doing the same.
As the maid of honor, Rosalie's sister Joy gave the first speech/toast near the end of the main course. The guests were treated to a humorous account of Rose's earlier years which were told animatedly. The toast was concluded with sincerest well wishes for the newest Cullen couple and hugs.
When Joy passed the microphone over to the best man, Bella sat up straighter in her seat. Edward, the ever eloquent lawyer, looked uncharacteristically nervous as he anxiously stood up from his seat. She caught his eye and gave him an encouraging nod, trying to hide her private amusement at his nerves.
Edward lifted up the microphone and gave Emmett an exasperated look which made the guests laugh immediately. "How can one even find the words to begin to describe Emmett?"
"Well, Rose, I'm sure you'll be finding them in your first few months of marriage, most of which probably should not be repeated in polite company." That got another laugh from the energetic guests.
Rose laughed and could be heard saying, "Already found them!"
"I had the somewhat dubious pleasure of going along with these two on their first date," Edward caught Bella's eye, "As did the lovely bridesmaid over there, Bella." Bella grinned and waved her hand for those who didn't know her.
"The four of us went golfing, Bella and I on a team and of course, Emmett and Rosalie. Most of you know that Emmett is just a little bit on the cocky side," Edward continued, grinning at the chuckling of agreement. "On the first tee box, Emmett steps up and goes to hit, Rosalie following behind him. I feel I should point out that this was the men's tee box."
Rose was already rolling her eyes while Emmett smirked.
"So, tactful as ever, Emmett asks what the hell she was doing. Ignoring him, Rosalie goes up and hits the ball about 250 yards straight as an arrow. A speechless Emmett followed and hit the ball into a pond…on the other side of the road. Needless to say, they quickly established who wore the pants in that relationship."
More people laughed and no one disputed the fact.
Edward waited until the chuckles died down, and a more serious look came onto his face. Bella felt her own smile fade as she watched him.
"Some of you may know that I lost my wife at the beginning the summer," Edward paused and though it was barely audible, Bella heard it. "Taylor was one of Emmett's biggest fans, and for a long time, I admit I have no idea why." The guests offered smiles which were more subdued than before.
"But when I lost her, I figured it out. A lot can be found about a person when they're going through hard times." Edward gave his older brother a look that conveyed so much more than anyone would be able to comprehend. "Emmett is the kindest, most caring man I have ever known. He is someone who will always be there for you and will give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He's really an awesome guy and I'm so happy that you've found someone equally as awesome."
Edward clasped his brother on the shoulder and lifted his glass. "I propose a toast to Emmett and Rose, two great people who will have a wonderful life together."
Bella raised her glass along with the rest of the guests and echoed, "To Emmett and Rose!"
The two brothers exchanged a hug which anyone could see the tenderness and admiration in. Edward hugged Rose as well who whispered something in his ear which made him blink, startled. The bride nodded at him and finally he cracked a small grin.
Bella was curious as to what she had said to him, but didn't get a chance to ask. Shortly after the speeches were done, it was chaos. Some of the guests moved over to watch the cake being cut while the workers on the ship began to move tables away to reveal the elegant wooden dance floor beneath. Bella lost sight of Edward, and couldn't really find him anywhere.
Once Bella had checked to see if Molly was still content with Alice and Jasper and vice versa, Bella went on a search for the best man. Once she searched the whole, somewhat crowded grand room, she checked the back deck where some of the guests were still residing. When she couldn't find him there, she wove her way back through the crowd to the front deck.
She found him there.
Edward was at the front of the triangle deck. His elbows were propped against the railing as he leaned, staring out into the river which they were slowly cruising through. His hair was tousled from the wind, but as his back was turned towards her, she could not see his face.
"Hey," Bella said softly as she approached him.
Edward moved his head back to glance over his shoulder and gave her a crooked smile. "Hey."
Bella opened her mouth to say something, but didn't get a chance.
Without a word, Edward pulled Bella against his chest, engulfing her completely in his arms. Bella was a little confused, but returned the hug, wrapping her arms around his torso. Edward rested his chin on the top of her head.
"You okay?" she asked.
"You know," he replied quietly, "I am."
Bella lifted her head off of where it had been resting on his chest. She looked up at him, brown eyes meeting green.
"I've finally figured out that life goes on…and I'm okay."
Bella's lips quirked up in a soft smile. She lifted one of her hands away from his back and brought it up to rest on his cheek. His eyes closed for a brief second at her touch.
"I'm so glad," she whispered. "You've suffered enough."
Edward's arms around her waist tightened just slightly. "During my toast I was going to say that Emmett was the person who has been there for me the most in recent months…but it's not true."
"It's been you, Bella. You've been like gravity, keeping me grounded. I don't know what I would have done without you."
With a powerful gaze, Edward leaned in and pressed his warm, soft lips against her forehead. Bella didn't drop her hand, but rather, closed her eyes to the gentle kiss.
Edward removed his lips and pulled her against him again. During the day and most especially during the ceremony, Edward had realized something. It had occurred when him and Bella had caught each other's gazes for the 3rd time during the vows and a silent conversation had passed between them.
He wasn't alone.
Taylor may be gone, but he was not alone.
Bella rested her head back against his chest and knew that he really was okay. The knowledge to himself that it was true was both unsettling and freeing to him. And she was so happy to see some light back into his eyes.
She had figured out a long time ago that Taylor would never truly leave her. The knowledge had been hard to believe at times and she had been shaken, but she was firm in her conviction. Taylor would always be a part of her.
And finally, Edward knew that.
"You know," he said, "I've been thinking about what that photographer said."
Bella hummed for him to continue.
"No matter how unconventional…we are a family."
Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
And moods that take me and erase me
And I'll paint it black
Well you have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won
Take this sinking boat
And point it home
We've still got time,
Raise your hopeful voice
You had the choice,
You've made it now
Falling Slowly, The Frames
AN: Hmmmm, what do you think? I think the two have a really unique but incredibly sweet relationship.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Or Harbowl, if you think it's clever. I'm indifferent in the outcome of this game, because neither is really an underdog, and those are the best to get behind! I think Ravens will pull it off tho.
Do you think Edward's really okay? Do you think they can have a relationship? Did you notice the title of the chapter song? Is that foreshadowing? And is yellow and grey not the best color combination for a wedding?
And dang that photographer. "A man and his two girls." I love that line because that's really what they both are to Edward: his girls.