AN: With this chapter, I mark complete. This story took me far out of my comfort zone and I love this one for that reason.
It was fun to let my imagination run away with influences of classic fairy tales and horror tales. Stephen King and Rosemary's Baby definitely gave me some idea.
Thank you to RFM86 for reading this thing and giving me the confidence to post it. Another giant thank you goes to mauigirl60, for her beta skills and helping me not quit writing.
Finally, the biggest thank you goes to you my wonderful readers for letting me switch things around and give you some surprises along the way. I really appreciate it.
So away we go!
Chapter 21 Epilogue: What Happens After Happily-Ever-After
The sun was beaming streams of light into Bella's old bedroom in Aro's house. A light breeze made the sheer curtains sway. She could smell the scent of hydrangeas and lilacs. It was soothing.
An arm was wrapped snugly around her waist and a smile played on Bella's lips.
He wasn't supposed to be here this morning. Traditions were obviously being ignored by her handsome boy.
It was odd, however, how tight his grip was and the way his mouth was nibbling on her ear. It felt so very wet.
"You shouldn't be here, handsome," Bella stated with a yawn. "The groom can't see the bride before the big day."
A voice hissed, "Babe, you know what they say about 'til death do us part."
Bella turned to find the rotting face of Emmett Cullen leering at her. The flesh of his face hung off his skull revealing the bone. "No!"
His mouth filled with worms lowered toward hers. "Give your man a kiss, lover!"
"Bella... Bella... Wake up, girl!" Arms were shaking her. "It's just a dream!"
Bella's looked up to see a panicked Victoria.
It had been just a dream. They were getting fewer, but still those nightmares had a way of hanging on. Angela sat on the edge of the bed and took her hand. She had similar nightmares of Ben and the demon. Truthfully, they all had nightmares from that wicked night.
Time was supposed to heal all wounds, but it wouldn't happen overnight.
The bridesmaids spent the night in a makeshift slumber party. It was as if they were trying to ward off bad spirits, but sometimes good intentions are only that.
Alice came over and laid a gentle hand on Bella's head. It instantly relaxed Bella's tormented mind. Ever since the night Bella had saved her life, the women had a special bond that couldn't be broken. "You need a shower and start getting ready to walk down that aisle, sleepyhead."
"It's real? Today is happening?" Bella looked up with a smile.
"Your forever begins today, dear friend," Alice stated. "Jasper will get him here in time."
"I'm nervous," Bella admitted.
Victoria laughed so hard, she fell onto the ground.
"What did I say?" Bella looked at Victoria as if she was crazy.
"Swan, now you're nervous?" Victoria cackled. "Your soon-to-be-husband tried to eat you a handful of times, you killed fucked-up demons and you decided to get highlights which was the worst hair decision you've ever made. I think you should be strolling down easy street right about now."
"I like my highlights!" Bella scoffed.
Victoria smiled. "See, no more nerves! Hit the shower and I'll get you some coffee and grub. It's time for you to marry that redheaded idiot."
Bella got up and looked in the mirror. It was time to let the future guide her to Edward. Her smile lit up the room.
The decision for the wedding and reception to take place in the Volturi's backyard was an easy one. After dealing with the evil that had invaded Angela's father and his church, Bella and Edward welcomed the invitation to have their special day among Lidia's garden full of rainbow blooms.
Harry was an ordained non-denominational minister and was going to perform the ceremony. New beginnings were what kept him going. New beginnings would be keeping him sane. He watched as the guests settled into their seats and waved to Seth. His son was still settling in to life outside prison and was trying to look at ease. It would take a while, but Seth would learn again that he was loved.
Harry looked over to a grinning Edward playing with the cuffs of his suit. Like Aro, this makeshift family was his, too. These two would be the first to bring new life to them all. He could imagine his Leah watching them from heaven and laughing at the new little children swinging and yelling as they sped down the slides at the playground on the reservation. It filled his heart with joy.
The sun was filtering through the floral archway that Lidia had carefully worked on with Edward's mother, Esme. It was amazing that though the death of her eldest son made her sad, it was also to her vast surprise that a heaviness had been lifted off the woman's shoulders. It was as if the final remnants of the fog surrounding her had lifted and happiness had returned to her world.
Carlisle was still coming to terms with the loss of Emmett. He had hitched his hopes and dreams wholeheartedly on his son during the days of Emmett's curse; Edward had become an afterthought. It was amazing to Carlisle to reacquaint himself with the strong and confident man that Edward had become. He felt flutterings of pride for his remaining son.
Esme kissed her husband's hand, as they gazed at their son who was beaming at the approaching Bella Swan. His destiny had arrived in a yellow sundress that was simple, yet perfect.
Aro held the girl's arm on one side and Laurent held her hand, on the other, as he wheeled by his darling Jane down the aisle. He was alive, but would never be completely healed. The demon in Ben had stripped his ability to walk, but not his spirit.
He mouthed to Victoria as they passed, "Trail hooker!"
Victoria stifled a laugh.
The ceremony itself was simple. An exchange of rings, a declaration of love and tender kisses and it was done. Bella and Edward were husband and wife.
"I love you," Edward whispered. "You have forever been in my dreams."
"I love you," Bella whispered back. "Even when I hated you."
"That's my girl."
They just kissed and laughed.
They kept kissing through the reception to the rockabilly tunes of Victoria's new boyfriend, Jamie. She was holding his small daughter in her lap and bouncing her to the beat of her father playing the drums.
Laurent wheeled up with a grin. "Look at the step-mommy! Little girl here is lucky that she's getting a good one like you."
"Suck it, Queen." Victoria stuck out her tongue, but couldn't contain her smile. "I'll have this little kid strapped to my chest, while Jamie and I search for Polly's killer. That's some family bonding right there."
"Indeed, but I have a feeling Lidia will be watching the little pumpkin," Laurent laughed. "Have you given our Bella her gift yet?"
"She needs to unlock her lips from that husband of hers and I will," Victoria said, shrugging.
"Love is in the air, my friend," Laurent said with a smile.
He looked over to see Angela and Eric holding hands and whispering softly. Rosalie and Jared were sharing a piece of cake and sneaking little pecks. Alice and Jasper were dancing. He was twirling her around and she was laughing. Joy was written all over face. They were to be married next month and Laurent was thrilled for even more wedding enjoyment. He was hoping to feel strong enough to perform as Luscious Lauren per Alice's request. He knew he would still be able to wow the crowd in his wheelchair.
"I'll unlatch Bella because her gifts are getting restless and giving me a headache." Victoria deposited Jamie's daughter into Laurent's lap. "Wheel her over to where Charlotte is talking to that douche, Peter. She'll freak out about underage pregnancies and he'll get a clue to leave her alone because you scare him, drag queen."
Peter's newfound interest in the newly-healed Charlotte was not a welcomed turn of events.
"I'll make him quiver in those horrible sneakers he's wearing." Laurent glared at Peter and his dirty, ripped shoes. "Who would wear those to a wedding? That boy's a cretin!"
"Go get him, Tiger!" Victoria said with a grin, as she went to pull apart the newlyweds. Using both hands, she pulled them apart.
"What the hell, Vic!" Bella complained.
"Shut up! I have a present for you." Victoria put out her hands. "You two blowfish put those hands of yours in mine."
"Are we getting a blender?" Edward teased.
"Cullen, this is better than a fucking blender." They took her hands and Victoria shut her eyes.
In front of them stood the apparitions of Charlie Swan, Jacob and Leah. They were all at peace and joy was radiating from their otherworldly glow.
"Daddy," Bella whispered. She was in shock at first, but then she grinned. "You were keeping some things from me, old man."
"Sorry about that, kid. I did give you clues." He winked at her.
She winked back. "Horrible ones, but you're always forgiven and always loved, Dad."
"I've missed you so much, little girl. You look beautiful. Congratulations to you both. Where's the white dress?" he asked, his ghostly hand stroking her face as he turned to smile at Edward.
"That ship has sailed long ago, Charlie!" Jacob laughed. Leah hit him the arm.
Victoria muttered, "Running mongoose is a pain in the ass!"
"I'm so happy for you, Bella!" Leah exclaimed, as Jacob kissed her head. "Don't listen to Jake. He's missed you."
"I've missed you both." Bella felt tears run down her face. "Are you all happy?"
"We have each other," Jake said with a smile. "Like you have Edward. We're complete."
Bella looked at Charlie. "Daddy?"
"My happiness lives in you." He placed a kiss on her forehead. "I'll always be watching. Behave, Cullen."
"Yes, sir," Edward stated resolutely. He would always honor and love Bella.
There was a swift breeze that made Bella shiver.
Charlie looked up into the sky. "We need to be heading back. I love you, honey."
"I love you too, Daddy," Bella said, wiping her tears away. She turned to Jacob and Leah. "You guys, too."
"We'll be back soon to see my dad and Seth, Victoria," Leah stated, as another gust of air shook the limbs of the trees.
"Cool," Victoria said with a shrug. These ghosts were becoming old news.
One final gust of air and Bella blew a kiss, as their ghostly bodies dissipated into a fine mist and they were gone.
Bella felt Edward wrap her into his arms.
"Kids, my man is going on a break. My turn to get some kissing in." Victoria saluted and danced her way up to Jamie. Bella just smiled.
"Take a walk with me?" Edward held out his hand and led her to the edge of the property where the daisies grew.
He plucked one, sticking it behind her ear.
"Husband, you're my everything." She kissed him softly.
"You're my everything, wife." Edward got on his knees and placed his hands on her stomach. "Actually, you both are."
He kissed her stomach.
Bella knew it was a girl. The baby girl liked to whisper secrets to her mother and soothe her after the nightmares.
The circle of light and love continued.
Edward stood up and held Bella's face. "This is happily ever after, right?"
She kissed him in response.
It certainly was.