Epilogue, revised

I do not own Twilight

EPOV

6 Years Later

I pulled into the complex where Bella and I had been living together permanently since I had graduated with my double major four years ago. It was after midnight and I had just finished with another shift at the hospital. I didn't want to wake Bella or Anthony, so I shut and locked the front door as quietly as possible and took my shoes off before going upstairs.

Thanks to all the summer courses I took in between semesters, I graduated a full year early and started medical school the following September. It took me another three years to finish my medical degree, which I will be receiving in a few weeks.

I started my residency a year early after I finished my rotations that I completed while taking classes. I knew at the time I was going to be completely useless at home, too tired to help with the everyday chores, but Bella has stood by me the whole ride through. I have one year left of my residency and at the end of it I'm planning to do a fellowship in pediatrics, specifically neonatology.

When Bella asked me why specifically that chosen sub-specialty, I explained it was because I hadn't been there for Anthony's birth. And while I knew it was not my fault, I still missed those early months of his life. I want to help newborn babies who come into this word too early and require that extra care.

In a few years after I finish my fellowship I hope to stay on at Harborview, if they'll offer me a position. I feel confident already in my skills as a medical practitioner, but I still have many years ahead of me.

Bella finished her degree after another two years and is working full time at Petals photo gallery. She's had a few shows over the years, and most of her photos have sold. When she first offered to pay for medical school for me, I outright said no. But Bella had a point in her argument, besides saving for a house and Anthony's future, what else could she do with the money from her photographs?

We've been talking about moving out of the condo into a house, and right now the timing would be right. After some research into the local neighborhoods and schools, we settled on one and are going to look at a few houses after my graduation.

Six years ago when I gave Bella her 'someday' ring, she knew I was asking her to marry me. But I hadn't gotten down on one knee to do it and actually say the words.

I went out recently and picked out a real ring. On a recent trip to visit my parents and Charlie I asked Bella's father for his permission and his response was typical Charlie, "What's taken you so long?"

I just laughed and thanked him.

~*~*~M~*~*~

Anthony woke me up the day of graduation, running into the room I shared with Bella shouting, "Daddy, daddy!" and jumped up on the bed, thankfully landing on my thighs.

"Good morning, little man. Where's mommy?"

"Making you a special breakfast. She said it's your special day today."

"Yes, yes it is. And guess what, you get to hang out with grandma and grandpa tonight, and then tomorrow grandpa Charlie is taking you fishing."

"Fishing!" Anthony exclaimed excitedly.

"Yup, all day. So long as you behave."

Anthony immediately sat down and I laughed.

"Who's hungry?" Bella asked as she walked in with a tray laden with breakfast for three.

"Me!" Anthony called out, raising his hand high into the air.

Bella set the tray down on the bed and handed Anthony his lion plate. "Little bites, please."

Anthony nodded and speared a piece of pancake with his fork. "Mm, chocolate chip, mommy. Yum!"

"Very good, Bells, thank you."

"Congratulations, I'm so proud of you." Bella hugged me and pecked me sweetly on my mouth.

"Ew," Anthony stuck his tongue out at us making us both laugh loudly.

Bella recruited Anthony to help her clean the kitchen downstairs after breakfast while I showered and got dressed. I had picked out my clothes for today carefully. I knew it wasn't going to matter much since I would be buried underneath my heavy black gown, but I wanted to look professional nonetheless.

"What do you think?" I asked Bella as I walked down the stairs.

Bella looked up and actually had tears in her eyes. We both knew this day was a long one coming, but it was here. "That bad?" I teased, knowing the real reason why she was crying.

"No, you look very handsome." She reached up and fixed my tie. "There, perfect."

"Don't cry."

"But they're happy tears. You're mom is probably a mess. Which reminds me, they're going to be here soon. You need to get going."

"Do I smell cake?"

"Go!" Bella thrust my cap and gown at me that had been hanging in the hallway closet, and ushered me out the front door.

"Ok, ok. I get it. I know when I'm not wanted."

"I'll see you in a couple hours." She leaned up and kissed me. "Anthony come say bye to daddy."

Anthony came running from the living room and locked his arms around my neck as I crouched to hug him goodbye. "I'll see you in a little bit, buddy."

"Ok, daddy. Have fun."

"I will."

The actual ceremony was scheduled to begin at eleven and would last about two hours with a luncheon afterward. It wasn't required to go, but I wanted to make rounds with my professors for a few minutes. I knew my dad would want to talk with some of his past colleagues as well.

The ceremony this year was being held over at the main campus in the HUB. I peeked my head in to see all of the chairs set up and felt a wide smile stretch my face. In just a couple hours I would have my medical degree.

It was the end of another chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one.

All of the graduates were assembled in the common area outside the event room. I was corralled into the front of the line at the end of the Cs. I made sure my gown was straight and my tassel was on the correct side before I marched forward with the other medical graduates.

The speeches themselves were not terribly boring. This was my third graduation ceremony that I was sitting through since I turned eighteen, and the first one where I actually listened to the speeches. I applauded enthusiastically for one of my professors as he stepped down, and the dean of UW Medicine got up to begin the diploma ceremony.

When it was all said and done and we had thrown our caps into the air, I went off in search of my family. Bella came running at me and leapt into my arms before I had a chance to think.

"You did it, Dr. Cullen."

"I can't believe it's actually over."

"I can," Bella sighed. "That was one hell of a ride."

"Well, it's only going to get longer from here. Four more years."

"We'll make it through."

"Don't we always?" I tapped her nose and kissed her again. "Where's my little man?"

"Right here, daddy!" Anthony called. He was trying to pull my mom along as he ran to get to me. I scooped him up and my mom pulled out her camera to take a picture of the three of us together.

"Great job, son." My dad said, clapping my shoulder.

"I know I'm going to miss it, but at the same time I'm glad to see it go."

"The fun is just starting."

"Thanks, dad."

"How long would you two like to stay?" Esme asked, inquiring about the luncheon.

"Not long, we're driving up to Vancouver today." I reminded them, nodding at Bella. We had planned a short weekend trip to Vancouver a few months ago and lucked out when we found a booking for a small cabin that was available this weekend.

"So an hour?" My dad asked, already walking away to talk to a few doctors he knew.

"An hour is fine."

"Lets get something to eat." Bella said happily. She took Anthony's hand in one of hers and mine in the other.

I stopped and talked with some of my former classmates and professors. Bella snapped a ton of photos. I scrolled through her camera on the way back to our condo. "I can't believe I actually know all of these people."

"Have you worked with any of them?" Bella asked.

"I did rotations with Garrett. And I think Kate is joining me in residency for the next year. She just got married so don't worry about that." I said to Bella. I knew she wasn't the jealous type, I was only teasing.

"I miss Anthony already." Bella sighed.

I looked into the back seat at Anthony's empty booster. My mom and dad had taken him when we left the luncheon. Tonight they were going to a movie in Port Angeles after dinner.

"You'll see him on Monday."

"It feels like such a long way away."

I reached over the center console and took Bella's hand in mine. "No worries,"

"No worries," Bella repeated. "Let's have a great weekend."

~*~*~M~*~*~

4 Years Later

When Bella first told me that weekend that she was pregnant, my immediate reaction was to panic. Not because of the baby, but because I hadn't proposed yet and I didn't want her to think I was doing it because she was pregnant. But then when I went to get the ring Bella didn't act surprised as I got down on one knee in front of her.

She had known this was coming for a long time and suspected I would be doing it that weekend. We got married a few months after our daughter, Chelsea, was born. Bella went into labor in the middle of the night unexpectedly and we had a few minutes of panic trying to figure out who would take care of Anthony. I called Jasper and he and Alice came over right away. I called my parents on the way to the hospital, and then called Charlie. He was in the middle of an overnight shift at the station, but he found cover and rushed into Seattle as fast as he could.

Chelsea was born in the late morning on January 10, 2020. Bella and I both turned 26 that year. Anthony turned eight and started third grade.

I'll never forget his reaction to seeing his baby sister for the first time.

My mom had brought him by the hospital around eight in the morning because he had been begging to see his mommy. Anthony was petrified that something was wrong with Bella, and needed to see her.

He was allowed into the room for a little while, and once he saw that Bella was all right, his fears were assuaged for the time being and he waited out in the sitting area of the maternity ward with my parents and Charlie. Alice, Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett all came by as well, but not until the following day.

I was so thankful that I got to be with Bella in the room this time around. I held her hand the whole time and encouraged her through her contractions until our daughter came into the world screaming.

I sat with Bella while we waited for her to be cleaned up. When our nurse came over with the little, pink bundle in her arms Bella let me hold our newborn baby first. "So this is what it feels like?" I asked, supporting Chelsea's weight in my arms.

"It's wonderful isn't it?" Bella smiled, watching me with our daughter for the first time.

"I don't want to let her go."

"You don't have to. That's the best part."

We sat there for a few minutes gazing in wonder at our little girl. She yawned and opened her eyes for a brief moment and we saw that she had the same green eyes as mine.

"What color do you think her hair will be?" I asked, stroking the faint down on top of my daughter's head.

"I don't know. I'm hoping she'll have your hair, too."

"Do you think her eyes will cool?"

"Possibly. I could see them becoming more hazel, as she gets older. But she's beautiful no matter what."

I handed Chelsea to Bella very gently and went out to get Anthony. Bella fixed herself so she was sitting up in bed when he came in. "Time to meet your baby sister." I said, holding his hand as we walked in. "Be very gentle." I lifted Anthony onto the bed and let him approach Chelsea on his own.

"She's so tiny." Anthony observed. "Will she always be so tiny?"

"No, she'll get bigger as she gets older, just like you. But its your job to help take care of her, too, little man. I'm depending on you. Will you help take care of your little sister?"

Anthony nodded his head. "Can I touch her?"

"Of course, but be very gentle." Bella sat up a little more and Anthony came a little closer. Bella rested Chelsea in her lap and Anthony reached out to take her tiny hand.

"Hi, I'm your big brother. I think you're the prettiest little sister ever."

Chelsea yawned again and opened her eyes fully. When she saw Anthony I swear I thought the corner of her lip turned up into a smile. Anthony giggled and leaned down to kiss Chelsea on her forehead. It was the sweetest moment we shared as a family.

And now four years later I've completed my fellowship, just a week shy of my 29th birthday. Bella and I have been married three years, Anthony is eleven now and just finishing up fifth grade. Chelsea turned three back in January. Bella and I picked out a house relatively quickly after my med school graduation and moved in to it the summer before Chelsea was born.

We now lived in a nice suburban neighborhood outside of Seattle in a two-story colonial with a huge backyard. After Chelsea turned one we got a Labrador puppy, now two years old, named Jack. He's essentially our third child. Bella and I have talked about having another baby, but the idea is on hold for now.

After Chelsea was born Bella made the decision to go back to school and take some business classes. She wasn't looking for a second degree, just a basic knowledge. She's since opened her own small photo gallery. Right now she's bringing in breakout artists trying to get their work out there. She left Petals after six years of working there, and brought with her a good friend she had made. Her name was Mina, and she was a recognized photographer from England.

Mina stayed on with Bella for the first year and then traveled back to her home in London. She helped Bella get on her feet and establish good connections within Seattle and the surrounding area. Bella features a lot of her own work in the gallery, mostly photographs of our children, but she has recently gotten back into still-life photography.

Upon the completion of my fellowship I was offered a permanent position in the NICU at Harborview, providing intensive care for prematurely born infants. When I came home with the news last week, Bella leapt on me with joy. I was going to be pulling long hours for some time as I got adjusted, but I knew in the end it was all going to be worth it.

"So now you get to do what you've always wanted." Bella whispered to me in the dark on the night of my birthday.

"I've been doing what I want to do for many years now, Bella. And that's being with you and our family, together."