Here We Are, As In Olden Days
December 2013 - Age 28
When Charlie got arthritis in his knees he planned to sell the house.
Bella had other ideas.
She knew that Edward wanted to buy a new home for their first, and Edward knew that she was desperately trying to hold on to her mother. He never tried to argue and they both knew why.
There was one part of that house that neither of them could give up.
Even though Forks was too far from Seattle to commute, they packed up their condo in the city and moved their new life to the tiny town where they grew up. The few pieces of furniture they had were dwarfed by the house but they filled the spaces at time wore on. Edward insisted they get a decent couch and Bella made sure they had a table big enough for the family on Christmas.
She insisted on working from the attic, even if it was cold and drafty. When Edward could manage to work from home, he took her old bedroom for the 'time being.' Bella blushed to her toes at the suggestion. They both knew what 'time being' meant.
As he worked, she could hear him talking on the phone from her perch upstairs and he could hear the taping of the keys on her laptop. For her birthday that year, Edward whitewashed all of the wood in the attic and built her a desk under the window. The white made it brighter and new. It was the same but it was theirs, as it always should have been.
She took the gesture as a sign, and did her best to purge some of the artifacts hidden in the boxes. After many tears and much less convincing than Edward thought, they cleared the room of most of the clutter, confining the boxes to one corner. From then on it was their attic. Completely.
Every day at five o'clock, she would wait for the sound of the creaky stairs being pulled down. She would pretend she didn't hear as he snuck up the steps, bare feet padding on the smooth sanded wood. He would pretend he didn't notice the way she straightened her back when she heard him coming.
Bella would work away until she felt the soft pressure of his hands on her shoulders. They slid down over her arms to her wrists until she was engulfed by the only arms that ever made her feel at home.
"Good evening Mrs. Cullen," he would whisper into her ear, kissing her until she caved and closed the lid of her laptop. Sometimes they went downstairs at once, and sometimes they didn't.
For their first Christmas in the new house, Bella tried to duplicate complicated meal her mother used to make every year. She cooked a rack of lamb and made Yorkshire puddings. For dessert she made a peppermint cake and put aside the ingredients for hot toddies.
At least, that was the plan.
The Yorkshire puddings were perfect and the rack of lamb was wonderful, if not a tad overdone. The hot toddies weren't hot enough but no one complained. Finally, dessert turned into a half-eaten pack of Oreos when the whole cake tumbled onto the floor after Edward mistakenly startled her in the kitchen.
While the rest of the Cullens and Charlie munched awkwardly on their chocolate cookies, Edward ran his fingers under Bella's eyes and apologized at least a hundred times.
She was flushed with anger and embarrassment and ready to pummel the crumbs at his face but the way he kissed her hair softened her bit by bit. It reminded her of the days when she used to break her pencils over calculus homework while Edward watched awkwardly from the other end of the sofa.
Edward would sit and listen, then sweep away the shards of her pencils. He would hum and nod until she was done. Now, as the stood amidst a sea of chocolate crumbs, he did the same.
When he pulled away he kissed the tip of her nose. "I'm sorry," he said again, gripping her arms tightly between his long, gentle fingers.
She nodded and let him kiss her lips in the middle of the kitchen.
That night, after everyone left, Edward swept up the remaining stale cake crumbs from the floor and carried Bella up the stairs to the bedroom.
"We're doing it our way next year," she said sleepily, arms loosely slung around his neck. "I'm exhausted."
"Let's make chili," Edward offered, and she laughed.
"That's not Christmassy," she snorted, kissing his neck. "Not at all."
He deposited her gracefully on the foot of the bed and pulled the gaudy Christmas sweater over his head. "So? It's our house." He grinned. "Christmas cornbread and chili. Come on. It's inspired!"
She threw one of her socks at him and he caught it before tossing it in the hamper.
"You know I'm right," he prodded, hands outstretched for her remaining sock.
"Yeah. You are," she agreed, flinging it at his face instead.
They brainstormed about chili recipes as they fell asleep. When Edward was finally silent, and snoring softly, Bella stayed awake. She was too unreasonably excited to close her eyes. Even though her body was exhausted from cooking and entertaining, all she could think about was that they had a futre to plan for. They had a life, and a house and possibilities. They had each other.
There was nothing more magic than that.
A/N: First of all, a big, very merry and joyous holiday to you! Thank you so much for sticking with me this month as we took this little journey. I'm so happy to have this down on "paper" for everyone to enjoy.
I'm going to mark this a 'complete' for now, but you never know. Maybe Mistletoeward will pop in for a visit. I'd like to stay hopeful, but I think this may be my last fic for a long while. We shall see.
I know many of you are aching for more stories and more explanations, but I leave that open to you. Boys can be dumb (we know this) and girls can be too (we definitely know this). They make mistakes and then mend them. Let's just be thankful that our two little lovebirds worked it out :)
Thanks again for ALL the support and for sharing so many of your Christmas thoughts and memories with me. Here's to a happy 2013!