AN: This is the end. I'll miss this story. I'm feeling a bit sad at the moment.
Thank you to the lovely mauigirl60 for guiding me through this tale. Her help has been amazing.
Finally, thanks to all of you for reading. I write in the hope that I can create something for others to enjoy. I hope the story succeeded that goal.
Chapter 15: The End
Life has a way of throwing curveballs, but Bella had never imagined that her life would end up like this. Her daydreams had consisted of growing old with Jacob, and sitting on the front porch to watch their grandchildren frolic in the yard. Their hair would be growing gray and wrinkles would form on their skin as twilight set on what was left of their waking hours.
There would be no gray hairs for either of them. Jacob was buried in the reservation's burial grounds. The tribe was generous to let their fallen, traitorous brothers and sister make that their final resting place. Bella found that surprising at first, but Harry had explained that they would now be a teaching tool for generations to come, that the lust for power corrupts and destroys the collective good of the tribe.
Bella stroked her smooth face. The chicken pox scar no longer marred the skin under her eyebrow. Her hair would always remain auburn waves. She would never change and always be a picture of the woman she was now. It made her grieve for the future changes she would never be able to experience.
"Always eternal," she whispered, wiping away phantom tears.
The breeze lifted up her hair as she looked down onto the yard below from the bedroom window. Sarah was holding Jason's hand as Rosalie sneaked them colorful pastries covered in sticky icing.
"Rosie, Bella's going to kill you if they get messy," Garrett pointed out from behind Bella. Rosalie rolled her eyes as she looked up.
Bella turned around slowly. "Hey, what are you doing here?"
"Checking out how lovely you are," he announced with a smile. "Today is a joyful day, Princess Isabella. Why so glum?"
"I'm thinking about aging and the lack of it that I'll be doing." Bella walked over to the full-length mirror framed in gilded gold. What stared back at her was a lovely woman in a strapless off-white gown. The skirt was short in contrast to the first time she'd worn such a dress, and instead of a veil, there were lilac flowers woven into the curls of her hair. She smoothed the satin fabric with her fingers, enjoying the feel of it. "Do you ever think about how it would be? What an older Garrett would be like?"
"Dead before I made it to that point, kiddo." He placed both hands on her shoulders. "I lived in a time where if the war didn't end me, then the famine or plagues would have done it. I think I made out okay because if I didn't become a vampire, I would never have met you. I couldn't ever ask for a better little sister."
She grinned at him from the mirror, their golden eyes meeting through the looking glass. "A little sister, huh? I've always wanted a big brother, since Seth is like a little one. Do I have permission to bother you forever?"
"Indeed. I'll be embarrassing you as well." He kissed my cheek, as the door opened.
"Oh, wow, Bella! Edward is going to go nuts! You look beautiful!" Seth barreled in, wearing a button-down shirt and suit jacket. It contrasted greatly with the cargo shorts the shirt was tucked into.
"Kid, what the hell are you wearing and how can I get in on that action?" Garrett looked down at his suit with a frown. "Katie is worse than Alice about dressing the men up in monkey suits."
"Emmett said it was cool," Seth said, happily. "Plus, it's too late to get changed! Are you ready to be Mrs. Edward Cullen?"
Bella took a deep breath and looked back in the mirror. "I think I am."
The walk down the beach wasn't long in actual measurements but, to Bella, it felt like years. She clung to Garrett's and Seth's arms as they headed down the crystal sands. When they reached Charlie, they passed her off to her doting father.
"You sure about this, honey? I'm pretty fast now. I can whisk you and the kids away in a jiffy," he pointed out.
"I'm so happy, Daddy. I promise that this is exactly what I want," she admitted to him, as they continued the walk toward Edward.
Warm rays from the sun beat down on them as the majority of the guests glittered in the light. Edward stood waiting in his suit. The legs of his pants were rolled up and his bare feet were buried in the soft sands. The children stood next to him with happy smiles and looking adorable. Sarah wore a light purple dress covered in pink roses and Jason was in a miniature version of Edward's suit. Bella, with her sharper vision, saw remnants of frosting on their clothes and shot Rosalie a dirty look. Rosalie just smiled.
There were a lot of smiling faces that day. She had wonderful friends in Victoria and Kate now, while her relationships with Alice and Rosalie had continued to blossom. Bella had missed her friendship with Emily; a part of her was unwilling to allow herself to have another strong female friendship after Emily's tragic death. Now that she had good friends again, she was going to hold on to those friendships tightly.
Jasper stood stoically next to his wife, but gave Bella a wink as she passed by. They had made a tentative friendship during the battle with Jacob and his tribe. It was growing slowly, but Bella knew they had all the time in the world to make things right.
Esme reached out to take Bella's hand and join it to Edward's when she reached them. She spoke in the wise and loving tone of a true leader, "I am thrilled to call you daughter now, Isabella, and to join you with our Edward."
Edward kissed her palm. "Bella, you are the reason the sun rises and sets for me. To become a husband to you and a father to Sarah and Jason brings me infinite joy. Things were rocky between us at first, but you saved me! Bella, you are truly a heroine and I only wish to make you proud of me one day."
"Edward, you saved me, too. It was an unconventional beginning to a relationship, but it fit us. You drew me in like a magnet from the very beginning, even though I wanted to kill you," Bella stated with a mischievous smirk. Edward looked sheepish, while Carlisle and Jasper had embarrassed expressions on their faces as well. "It worked out though. We fell in love. I can't think of anyone else I would rather be married to."
Jason grabbed Edward's leg. "I love, Ed! I marry him, Mommy?"
"Mommy's going to marry Edward today, Jay. That sound good to you? Sarah?" Bella asked, gazing on her small loves.
"Yes!" the children cheered.
"If they agree, it sounds perfect to me," Bella teased Edward. "Might as well. I do take you, Edward Cullen. I love you."
She placed a ring of gold-twisted ivy on his finger.
"I take you too." Edward placed a more delicate version of the ring she gave him on her finger and pulled her close. "I love you, Isabella Cullen."
Esme shook her head at them, stifling a laugh. "I did have more words prepared to celebrate this day."
"Can we just get to the food?" Sarah asked, rubbing her stomach. "I want more cupcakes!"
Jason nodded eagerly in agreement with his sister. "Cake!"
Esme rubbed both of their heads. Her children were extremely spoiled by all the vampires. "I would do anything for the two of you. Edward, you go ahead and kiss her."
That kiss in front of the sparkling sea was a new beginning for Bella and the ocean. Instead of a place of fear, it was now one of hope and love.
Twenty years into the future:
The snowy mountains of Alaska were beautiful as the sun set over them. Bella was eagerly waiting for the twilight to bring forth the stars that she loved to wish upon. She snuggled into her sweater and waited patiently, taking in all the changes around her.
"You know we don't get cold, don't you?" Edward pointed out, wrapping his arms around her. "You always seem to forget that. You're getting old, my sweet."
"Shut it, Cullen," Bella said happily. "I'm enjoying my happy place right now."
It was an open field covered in white powder with little blades of green grass peeking playfully out from the snow. The evergreen trees surrounded them, reminding Bella of Forks and the people she left behind. Missed, but never forgotten.
"To think you didn't want to move here," Edward pointed out. "Poor Jay, almost went to school in the tropics just to make you happy."
Jason was finishing his last year of college in Alaska, and as the group of vegetarian vampires had done all of the children's lives, followed him to the icy north and created a new homestead where the Denalis used to live. Kate was apprehensive at first, but thanks to Garrett's love and guidance, decided to move on from the old memories. It was now a place that she'd found peace with her past, and could now see hope in her future with her rag-tag new family.
"Sarah is just as bad as Victoria about moving back to the island. She won't believe me that being pregnant in the heat is worse than in the cold. I did it twice. She should trust her old mother!" Bella remembered her child's complaints about the impending birth of her twins with Seth. Surrounded by vampires, Seth had never grown older than his twenty years. It was much to Edward's chagrin that Sarah and the wolf had fallen in love. Bella shot Edward a disapproving look at her husband's sour expression. "Now, Edward, you adore Seth. They're married and happy. We're going to have a wonderful time being grandparents!"
"What about when Sarah goes through the change when the twins are three? I think we need to worry about these things! If it weren't for me, you'd be blissfully unaware of any trouble, wife!"
Edward stomped toward the house and Bella grinned at him. She loved how he was such a worry-wart and overprotective father even if it drove the children crazy. Quickly, before he could get too far, Bella pounced and they rolled around in the snow. When they finally stopped, Bella straddled her husband, her face filled with lighthearted bliss. "I pinned ya, husband!"
"Can you please try to be serious for a moment?" Edward could barely stifle the smile he felt forming. "I want everything to work out!"
She pressed her lips to his and whispered into his lips. "It will. Trust me."
In her heart, Bella knew this would be true. Her children were safe and would have the best futures at their disposal. Sarah would be changed and Seth would remain forever her werewolf beloved in some weird, unexplained twist in tribe genetics. Their children would make decisions about their own futures, which the rest of the vampires would abide.
Jason would become a doctor and train under Carlisle. The man who once made Bella terrified was now a trusted friend and mentor to Bella's family. The only problem was trying to get Charlie to stop flirting with Esme. If Bella could find her father a vampire girlfriend, then all would be calm. So far, Bella was not having any luck.
Being a doctor was the only thing that Jason was determined to do. He was still undecided about if he was going to follow his sister and become like their mother, but another change was in the air . . .
"Jason has a crush on that new vampire girl," Bella noted with a kiss to Edward's nose. "Emma. She seems sweet."
"If she bites him, I'll rip off her head," Edward said solemnly.
"Not if I get to her first, but I'm not worried. He'll have his happily-ever-after just like us." Bella stroked his rust-colored hair, as Edward's grip tightened on her slim waist. The sky was darkening as the first stars came into view like little pinpricks of light in the atmosphere. "I know something I'd like to bite before we get interrupted."
Chuckling, Edward nuzzled his head into her neck. "Emmett and James have been pains lately. The neverending snowball fights are getting old."
"Jasper is getting old," Bella complained. Those two were a combination of oil and water who lived to annoy each other.
"He's busy packing with Alice. She's taking him to Texas, remember?" Edward reminded her.
Bella kissed him happily. "Sweet nirvana! I hope she loses him at the Alamo!"
"Woman, you make me so very happy," he whispered into her neck before nipping it. "Would you like to hide out here and kiss for a while or head back to the great winter wars? Emmett might need our—"
"I think it's time to kiss you senseless, Mr. Cullen."
And that was exactly what she did.
Under the shining moon and twinkling stars, Bella Swan Cullen had found her place in the whole wide world, in the arms of the man she loved and with her children thriving. Endless eternity was a happy beginning indeed.
Her wishes on those millions of stars had finally come true.