~Shortly Before Graduation~
Bella huffed, crossing her arms. "Edward, no."
Growling, Edward picked up a pillow from her bed and banged his head against it. "A lot of couples do this. It only makes sense." They'd been over this a thousand times already, but he tried again just in case it would stick this time. "You got the scholarship, so you go to school first. Full time. Since Charlie isn't going to charge us rent, that leaves me to cover whatever we need for Emma and our part of the utilities. I can do that, and we'll still be able to save if I'm working full time."
Her stare was withering. "That's not fair. Why can't we both work and do night school and online courses like we talked about? It might take us longer, but-"
"This isn't about what's fair to you and me," he interrupted, a little frustrated. "We don't have that kind of time. You got the scholarship. Take advantage of it. Go to school and get out in four years - less, if you can swing it."
She glared at him, her lips pursed and her hands on her hips. "Fine," she said, with a huff, sitting beside him.
Edward blinked, honestly shocked he'd won that argument so quickly. He looked at Bella out of the side of his vision, watching as her pout slowly turned into a smile. They both laughed simultaneously, the tension between them being dispelled.
Turning his head, he kissed her cheek. Before he could turn back, she caught the side of his face with her hand. He couldn't keep himself from smiling against her lips as he deepened their kiss.
~Three Years Later~
Bella barely had time to shuffle off the stage before her four-year-old daughter came barrelling at her. She huffed when Emma hit her. Reaching down, she pulled Emma up into her arms hugging her tightly.
"You look so pretty today, Mommy. And me and Daddy are proud of you," she babbled merrily.
By then the rest of the family had caught up with Emma, and Bella found herself engulfed in hugs and congratulations.
If she'd had it her way, Bella would have graduated quietly with no fuss. But four years of motherhood had taught her she rarely got things her way. Despite the fact she'd tried to assure Emma she'd been present at her and Edward's high school graduation, the girl was obsessed with the idea of watching Bella walk across a stage dressed in school colors to receive her diploma.
And, of course, taking after her father, once Emma had talked her mother into it, she'd wasted no time at all in rallying the troops. As a result, Bella was now surrounded by her extended family: The Masens, her mother, father, stepmother, step-siblings, and the entire Cullen brood. Even Bree was there.
Though she blushed at all the attention, Bella could never doubt she was well loved.
Ever patient, Edward hung back, letting everyone else have their fill before he came forward. "Congratulations," he murmured in her ear as he hugged her close.
The pride in his eyes, in his tone, was unmistakable, and Bella's heart felt full. Without his constant love and support, she never could have gotten through school the way she had. He'd been amazing, working hard and still going above and beyond with Emma when Bella was overwhelmed with midterms and projects.
He was a true partner.
Wrapping her arms around Edward's neck, she pushed up onto her tiptoes so she could whisper in his ear. "Marry me."
He stiffened and pulled back, his eyes comically wide. "What?" he said intelligently.
Though she was nervous, Bella couldn't help but giggle at the flabbergasted expression he wore. Again she came closer so she could whisper, not wanting their family - and probably more importantly, their daughter - to hear until they were ready. "Marry me," she repeated.
His grin was breathtaking, but he tamped it down as he tilted his head to whisper back. "I don't know, Miss Swan. We're awfully young to be tied down."
She laughed. She wasn't even twenty-two yet. With all her responsibilities, Bella often felt at least thirty-five, and yet other times, she felt as stupid and young as she'd been at seventeen.
Edward nuzzled the side of her head with his nose and kissed her cheek. "Of course I'll marry you."
~Three Months After That~
"Now that's something you don't see every day."
Bella, dancing in safe sways with her father, looked over her shoulder to Jasper. It was his wedding gift that he'd offered up his services as a wedding photographer.
As Bella watched, he raised his camera, snapping another picture of the beautiful scene on the dance floor.
Emma had apparently misinterpreted the traditional father-daughter, mother-son dance. She'd pushed Elizabeth out of the way and now stood perched on her Daddy's feet, staring up with the biggest grin.
The sight nearly made Bella cry, it was so beautiful. There was Edward - her lover, her partner, and the father of her child looking sinfully good in his tux. Since they'd set eyes on each other earlier that day, he'd broken out into a breathtaking grin that hadn't left his face. His happiness and satisfaction was a reflection of everything she felt. They were still stumbling, but they were making it through life together.
And then their baby, their Emma. She was a stunningly precious child with her father's beautiful green eyes and his same shade hair that fell in curls, just like her Grandpa Charlie. She had Bella's face, even her slightly-awkward ears, poor baby girl. She was an easy going girl, her eyes almost always lit up and excited, just as they were now. She was adorable in the dress she'd proudly picked out all by herself - a sleek, elegant dress in soft lavender she'd chosen to look more like her Mommy. Usually, Emma liked everything that was bright pink, frilly, and poofy - very unlike her Mommy.
Charlie chuckled, drawing Bella's attention back. "You happy, Bells?" he asked, though he had to know the answer.
"Yeah. I really am."
~Six Months After That~
Edward felt an immense sense of satisfaction when he and Bella had signed the lease and the landlord handed over their keys.
They had their own apartment. It was small - three tiny bedrooms, one of which they would use as an office workspace - but it was 100% their responsibility. It was a long time coming, but Bella had finally found a good job, and Edward - having fallen into a decent career in the search engine marketing field while Bella was getting her degree - had decided not to pursue a higher education. What he did didn't necessitate any kind of degree, just experience.
They were ready for this, to live without the safety net of any of their parents.
Holding Bella's hand, they looked around the blank space.
"I guess we're grown up now, huh?" Bella finally said, breaking the silence.
And kissed her.
And realizing there was absolutely no chance anyone was going to walk in on them, he made love to his wife there on the floor in the middle of the living room.
Emma was some kind of piano prodigy.
She'd picked up her father's ear - Edward had the ability to pick up an instrument and just start playing it - and passion for music. Early on, her parents had both done what they could - gotten all the freelance work they could get their hands on - to support her. Lessons, music, private music camps - it all added up.
But worth it, Edward thought, watching her in awe.
She was all of nine years old, dressed quite prettily as she played background music for one of Seattle's swanky, high class restaurants. The other patrons were charmed. Edward and Bella could not have been prouder.
Reaching across the table, he took Bella's hand and squeezed. "Our kid is awesome," he whispered, leaning in conspiratorially.
Her answering smile was blinding.
But then, as he watched, it fell, and she seemed... not troubled, exactly...
"What's wrong, Bella?"
Sure enough, her look, when she glanced back at him, was furtive. She took a deep breath and looked up at him, trying for a light tone. "She came out right."
"Yeah," he agreed.
"What do you think about trying our luck again?"
It took him a few seconds to grasp what she was saying. Then he felt a rush of fear followed quickly by excitement. He raised his hand to her cheek, brushing the pads of his fingers down her face. "Yeah. I think that's a great idea."
~Thirteen or so months later~
"This is ironic, that's what it is," Bella grumbled. "The first time, I didn't even notice I was pregnant. This time, it's like this kid is making sure I can't forget he's in here."
Edward pressed his lips together, biting the inside of his cheek. There were a lot of things he could say, but hard earned experience had taught him to keep his mouth shut. This pregnancy had been trying to say the least, and when she was suffering the ill effects, it seemed that everything that came out of Edward's mouth was wrong to his beautiful, fantastic, loving wife.
What he wanted to tell her was that being put on bed rest wasn't the worst thing in the world. It was better than the horrible morning sickness that had plagued the first five months of her pregnancy. But Bella didn't like being waited on, she didn't like being so still. It made her very restless.
So Edward kept his silence, rubbing her back in slow circles and simply offering his loving presence.
After a minute, Bella let out a long slow breath, and when she turned back to him, she was smiling. "Well, the good news is, I think I've found a good name for our son." She rubbed her belly - huge this time, as if to make up for his sister's hide-and-seek tendency - tenderly.
"Do tell," Edward prompted, shifting so he could put one arm around her shoulders and rest his other hand over her belly.
"I've been watching The West Wing-"
"That show's ancient."
Bella glared, and Edward shut his mouth quickly. "Yes, well. That's what happens when I'm home alone with nothing but Netflix to keep me company. Can I continue?"
Edward waved his hand to indicate she should go on.
"Anyway. There's a character I really like. Josh. I think that's a nice name."
Cocking his head, Edward considered this. "Keeping with the theme of naming our kids after the last thing we watched, hmm?" He rubbed his palm over the swell, smiling. "Joshua Alexander Masen?" he suggested.
"His initials would be jam, you realize that right?"
"That just has all sorts of great possibilities." He smiled, leaning in to kiss her. It was a small peck - he didn't know how she felt toward him today - but before he could back away, she caught him, her hand to the back of his head. She held him there, apparently not done kissing him.
Edward's lips turned up even as they kissed. He brought his hand up, stroking her cheek with the the back of his knuckles. He let his other hand rest against her swollen stomach. Her fingers in his hair felt so good, he couldn't help the little moan that escaped his lips.
He was so crazy in love with this woman. They were lucky, and he knew that. It was true they'd worked unbelievably hard - raising a baby at such a young age, staying together through every challenge - but still, they were lucky. Life could have just as easily torn them apart as tossed them together.
Shifting, he moved so he could wrap one arm around her shoulder, tucking her tight against him. He stroked her belly, leaning his head against hers. "He's almost here. Can you believe it?"
She huffed, putting her hand over his. "No," she admitted.
How could he blame her? Their son couldn't have been more planned. Throughout their relationship, they'd been diligent about birth control - beyond diligent, they'd been obsessive about it.
Maybe it was because they hadn't had a choice before, but choosing how and when to have their second baby was a decision they examined from every side. They considered adoption. They seriously considered not having another baby at all.
But finally, they both agreed they wanted what they'd missed out on the first time: the pregnancy. They wanted the moment month to month when they held their breath, waiting to see if they'd sparked a new life. They wanted to tell their family and friends - watch the happiness news of a new baby brought when it was something to celebrate. They wanted all the milestones: the first ultrasound, watching Bella's body change as she grew their child, finding out if it was a boy or a girl. They wanted all the moments they'd been robbed of by fate and circumstance.
Thinking back to Emma's hectic babyhood, Edward wondered what it would be like this time.
Well, another couple of weeks and they would find out.
Bella hissed, her hand going to her belly. "Ouch! Jesus." She paused. "Oh, fuck."
They both looked at her pants, rapidly darkening down the front. "Bella... did your water just break?"
So much for a couple of weeks...
~Eighteen Hours Later~
Edward yawned, feeling a little lethargic, trying to figure out what had woken him up.
Oh, right. His three hour old son.
He tried not to jostle Bella as he got out of the too-small hospital bed, but it was inevitable. She winced as she woke and looked around blearily.
"Shh," he murmured to her. "Go back to sleep. Your boobs aren't necessary yet." He reached into the plastic bassinet, carefully bringing his son up into his arms. "You want your daddy, don't you, Josh?"
The baby made a little fussing noise, but he didn't start crying. Tucked against his father's warm body, his eyes drooped and fell again.
Edward was so smitten.
He looked up at Bella as he sat back down on the bed. "See?"
She rolled her eyes, but her smile was indulgent.
In love with her all over again for what she'd just done for them - bringing their baby boy into the world - Edward leaned forward, capturing her lips for a soft, sweet kiss. "Thank you for this, Bella. For everything."
She smiled against his mouth, but gave him a look as she pulled back. "I would thank you for your part, but I don't like that part of you very much right now."
His expression was mockingly scandalized. "Not in front of the innocent child, Bella. What's wrong with you?"
Before she could answer, the door to the maternity suite opened slowly. "Hello?" came a familiar whisper.
"Hey, Emmatine," Edward called softly, looking over to where his daughter stood in the doorway. He hadn't realized it was late enough school was out. Time had gotten a little warped after Bella went into labor. "Come in here. Come meet your brother."
Emma hurried over, losing that almost-eleven-year-old too-cool-for-this veneer as she peered at the bundle in Edward's arms. Her nose crinkled as she looked him over. "He's tiny."
"You were much smaller," Bella said gently.
The look on Emma's face suggested she thought her parents might be messing with her, but she didn't argue. She pressed a single finger to the baby's fisted hand, working her way under his flexed fingers so she could shake. "Hey, little guy."
For a long minute, she scrutinized the baby before she nodded. "I think I like him."
"Well that's good," Edward said wryly. "I was hoping we could keep him."
Emma grinned at him and shrugged. "I guess that's okay."
Running around the other side of the bed, Emma gave Bella a big kiss. "Gram is talking to everyone outside. She said to come get her if you were awake. Are you awake?"
Bella laughed. "Oh, I suppose I am."
"Okay," Emma said brightly. "I'll tell them they can come see you."
She rushed off and Bella looked at Edward and their son in his arms. "At the end of the day, it's all pretty simple, isn't it?"
"I love my babies." Her smile was adoring as she looked at him. "And I love you."
Leaning in, he kissed her again, the movement tender and adoring. "It's the simplest thing in the world."
A/N: First and foremost, so much thanks to jessypt, barburella, ginnyw, and jfka06 who are somehow still my friends despite the conniption fits I had over this particular fic.
Now you, my darling readers.
Technically, Pirate Fic is going to be my last full fic, but as it doesn't have as many readers as this does, I'm going to take the time to say something here.
These last few years writing Twi fic has been amazing. I've learned so much. I'm ready to move on to my own work now, and I would never have gotten here without fanfiction and the love and support of viewers like you.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything. I hope some of you will want to read my original works when I'm ready to sell them, even if the main characters were never Edward or Bella (wink).
I'm sure I'll write a one shot or an outtake here or there, and I'll be around on Twitter.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.