A/N Stephenie Meyer Owns Twilight.
This story is dedicated to Chocaholic123, Errontrisha, SparrowNotes24, Lel2768 & Twilightladies, my wonderful Betas and pre-readers. Thanks for your help ladies.
Sorry for the delay with this chapter. I never intended for it to take so long to update but school work had to come first. The good news is that I am now finished until October, so I should be back to a weekly posting schedule.
A special thanks to vivalarye for being review number 1300 and to all of you who are still reading and reviewing. I am slowly catching up now that I seem to be able to stay awake for longer than a few hours at a time.
In the week that followed King Charles' announcement things had definitely calmed down around the university. The reporters and photographers had left one by one after orders from their publishers, and slowly students were starting to move on with their own lives.
While Isabella and Edward's relationship had been a little strained in the days following the announcement, they had easily fallen back into their old routines, spending their evenings talking about everything and anything before curling up together to watch a movie or a new show they had grown to love. As November progressed, their time together was cut short by the need to finish work and meet deadlines before the end of term.
Edward was more than anxious for the holidays. His professors had been working him hard, harder than he suspected was normal after news of his relationship with Isabella broke, and he was in desperate need of a holiday. Yet, a part of him was terrified of what the holidays would bring. He had seen Isabella's schedule for their time apart and it was full of lunches, parties and charity galas. So many opportunities for her to find someone else. Someone closer to her own status. So he had made a vow to himself to treasure every moment of time he had left with Isabella, just to be on the safe side.
Two weeks before the end of term, Edward woke to the sound of muffled voices in the hallway between his and Isabella's room. He made his way quietly to the door and pulled it open, peering out into the dark passageway. Isabella was stood, fully dressed, whispering furiously with Jasper who had a bag in his hands.
"What's going on?" Edward asked, his voice rough from sleep.
"None of your business," Jasper snapped before turning back to Isabella.
Isabella gave him one of her looks before asking for a few moments of privacy and Jasper reluctantly walked away, the bag slung over his shoulder.
"Can we talk in your room?" she asked softly and Edward stood back to let her in. She took a seat on the edge of his bed as Edward stopped to turn on his bedside lamp. In the soft glow it created, he could see Isabella had been crying. He eyes were red and puffy, her cheeks still damp from the tears she had shed.
"What's going on?" he asked again, reaching for her hands as he sat beside her.
"I got a call about an hour ago from my father. My grandfather, in Spain, he's had a heart-attack and been rushed through to hospital. I'm leaving school early to go and see him. His doctor," Isabella paused as more tears began to fill her eyes. "His doctor isn't sure he will be coming home."
Edward pulled Isabella into his arms, allowing her to cry silently while he ran soothing hands up and down her back. This wasn't how he had imagined them separating for the holidays, but he knew right now, Isabella needed to be with her family. She pulled away from him gently and turned to look at the alarm clock beside Edward's bed.
"I need to go. The plane carrying my brothers and father should be landing any moment now."
"Of course." Edward stood awkwardly unsure how to finish his sentence. "Um, text me when you land? Just so I know you're safe," he hurried to add.
Isabella squeezed his hand one last time before letting go. "I will. I'll call you when I can."
"Don't worry about that. Spend as much time as you can with your grandfather."
Isabella pulled Edward in for another quick hug, before placing a sweet kiss to his lips.
Then, she was gone.
When Jasper pulled the car up to the landing strip, Charles was already waiting for his daughter. He had settled the boys onto their private plane, telling them to sleep. But he knew Isabella would need him right now. She had always been closer to her maternal family than her younger brothers were.
"Daddy," was all she could squeeze out before Charles pulled his beloved daughter into his arms. He ran a soothing hand over her hair as Isabella cried into his shoulder.
Even though it was 3:00 a.m. raining lightly and bitterly cold, Charles held his daughter for the better part of forty minutes while she cried and shook into his shoulder. When she finally quietened enough, he reached down to pick her up, before carrying her up the steps leading to the plane and settling her onto her bed inside.
On the outside, King Charles may have seemed cold and closed off to the public but his love for his children knew no bounds.
Isabella woke to a gentle hand sliding through her hair. For a second, she forgot where she was, thinking it was Edward's hand waking her. But the hand was too large and too soft to be Edward's. As she blinked her eyes open, pulling herself up into a sitting position, her gaze found her father, crouched on the floor besides her bed, smiling softly at her.
"Izzy, we've landed. Do you need a moment to freshen up before we disembark?" he asked kindly. Charles wasn't concerned about his family's image with the media right now. He was offering Isabella a chance to put on a brave face, if only for the sake of her younger brothers.
"Thanks, I think I will." She placed a gentle kiss to her father's head before standing on wobbly legs and heading for the small, but perfectly functional, bathroom attached to the bedroom her father had carried her in to.
After a quick shower and a slightly longer motivational pep-talk, Isabella joined her brothers and their father, ready to greet the Spanish media.
It had been a week since Edward woke to find Isabella and Jasper in the hall. Isabella was still in Spain, spending time with her grandfather. She had sent him a brief text when their plane landed to let him know she was safe. It wasn't strictly necessary as broadcasts of the King of Spain's condition and the British royal family's arrival in Madrid had dominated news channels all across the country. But Edward enjoyed hearing from Isabella.
Since then, Isabella had sent Edward a few messages every day in her absence. At first they had been short and sweet, telling him how her grandfather was doing and asking after Edward. But the longer they were apart, the longer their messages had become.
Edward had yet to receive a call from Isabella, as she spent most of her days either with her grandfather or her uncles and aunts. The family had been preparing for the worst and Edward could tell, just through their messages, she was feeling the stress of the situation.
That was why he was so surprised to see her name lighting up his screen at almost midnight the Sunday before his last week of term.
"Isabella? Is everything okay?" He sighed gently into the handset, happy to be able to hear her voice again.
"Edward." The way Isabella's voice broke as she said his name told him everything he needed to know.
"Oh, Bella. I'm so sorry." It sounded stupid to his own ears, but right now, it was all Edward had to offer her.
"Thank you," she sniffed a little, trying hard to pull herself together, before continuing her conversation.
When Isabella had left the hospital that evening, after saying a final goodbye to her grandfather, all she could think of was Edward. She wanted his comforting arms around her and to hear his soft words whispered into her ear. She hadn't thought about how difficult it would be to have this conversation over a phone.
"At least he's no longer suffering," she said finally. Her voice held a little more composure than it did before, but Edward could tell she was struggling to keep hold of herself. The doctors had done everything they could to make her grandfather comfortable, but the truth of the matter was, he was an old man who had been suffering in silence for longer than any of them really knew.
"He's with your mother, Bella. I'm sure he's happy to be reunited with her."
At Edward's words all composure she had gained slipped and Isabella let out a choked sob.
"Oh God, Bella, I'm so sorry. That was a stupid thing to say." Edward threw himself back onto the bed, huffing a little at his thoughtless words.
"No. No, it wasn't, Edward. It was just what I needed to hear." There were some muffled sounds through the line and Edward imagined Isabella was trying to calm herself down.
"Is there anything I can do?" he asked when he sensed he had her full attention.
Isabella's voice lightened at the offer. "You're already doing plenty, Edward. I just, really needed to hear your voice tonight."
"Well, in that case, how about I tell you all about my week?" Edward was trying to lighten the mood and Isabella appreciated that more than she could have said.
"I think I would love that right now."
Edward settled back into a more comfortable position, and began his story of his week without her. "So, I got my assignment back from Dr Terwan. I swear, he hates me. I think I'm gonna ask Professor Merk to take a look at it. I worked too damned hard on that paper to only get a sixty-seven…"
"So, how are you doing?" Emmett asked as he grabbed another couple of beers from the fridge.
Edward didn't bother to take his eyes off the game he was playing as he answered his friend. "I'm good. Looking forward to getting home for the holidays. I've missed my mum's cooking."
"Uh huh," Emmett, murmured, not convinced at all.
Edward finally turned off the Xbox and turned to face his friend, who was sprawled along the floor next to him. "What? What is it you want?" he snapped.
"I want you to be honest. This is a rough time for Isabella, I get that. I was there when her mother died, so I know what she is going through right now. But you, you're new to this lifestyle. And it's not an easy one to adjust to. Hearing her distressed every night, on the phone, isn't easy either. Trust me, I know how that feels. Knowing you're so far away from the person you really want to be with, and there is nothing you can do to help…" Emmett trailed off, his eyes focused on something that was clearly not the soap opera currently showing on the television. "So, how are you?" he asked at last, turning more towards Edward.
Edward straightened up but refused to meet Emmett's eyes. Instead, he began picking at the label on his beer bottle. "It's tough. We finally seemed to be back to normal after the argument over the press conference and then she's gone. The time she really needs me, I can't be there for her. Then there's a really small, selfish part of me that hates she's had to leave early because she has such a busy schedule over these holidays. And, let's be honest, Emmett, I don't fit into that lifestyle."
Emmett stayed quiet for a while, allowing Edward's words to hang between them, before he reached out a comforting hand. "Edward, trust me when I say, Isabella isn't comfortable in that lifestyle either. People think being a member of the royal family is easy. They think all you need to do is cut some ribbons, smash some champagne bottles and smile for pictures. They don't realise every move she makes is watched. They don't know what it's like for her to argue with her father about attending university, because she wants to go, and he's concerned an attempt may be made on her life while she is away from the heavy protection she normally receives." Edward's eyes snapped to Emmett's at his admission, but he remained silent.
"They don't know what it's like to have to bury their mother at the age of sixteen, in front of millions of people and still try and maintain some dignity. They don't know what it's like to not be able to leave their home without someone following them, be it press or the public or a bodyguard." Emmett was getting more worked up by the second, but he hadn't finished yet.
"Isabella's life isn't easy and it's not for everyone. She knows that and d'you know what? She's concerned it's not for you. As much as Isabella cares for you, she's terrified something will happen, be it lies spread by the press or a huge formal function you may be forced to attend, and it will send you running for the hills. That terrifies her because she's never allowed herself to open up to someone outside of this lifestyle the way she has to you, before. You don't need to worry about her lifestyle taking her away from you. She's been doing this all her life and that's never happened. You need to be worried about what this lifestyle might do to you."
Emmett turned serious eyes to Edward, hoping to convey the importance of his next words. "Are you ready for everything it could bring? And I mean, really ready? You're dating the future queen of your country. Are you ready for the public functions you'll need to attend, the public wedding you'll have, assuming your relationship makes it? The incredibly public birth of your children? Will you be ready to give up your job when she takes the throne, because there is no way the Queen's husband would be allowed to continue working somewhere he couldn't be properly protected? Is your family ready for the scrutiny they will face? If you're truly ready for all of that, then tell her. Show her there is nothing that can drive you away. And she'll show you as tough as this lifestyle can be, it's enjoyable if you have the right person to share it with."
Emmett stood abruptly, gave Edward's shoulder a brief squeeze and headed to the bathroom, to allow Edward some time to think. He had said far more than he intend too, and he hoped Isabella would forgive him for spilling some of her secrets. But he was more concerned Edward be fully prepared for her return. Isabella would be emotionally fragile, and the last thing she needed was for Edward to hurt her if he decided he couldn't cope.
When he returned to the lounge a few moments later, Edward had moved to the sofa, and switched the channel to the live football game. Nothing else was said that evening about Isabella or her royal life.
Three days later, Isabella woke to a dreary morning in Madrid. This was the day she had been dreading all week. After three days of laying in state, her grandfather was to be buried that morning at the royal ground of El Escorial. And the day was already bringing back far too many memories of her mother's funeral almost three years earlier.
A small knock on her door, pulled Isabella out of her thoughts and out of her bed. Her uncle Felipe stood on the other side of the door, already dressed in his finest suit for the funeral.
"Can I come in, Izzy?" he asked with a gentle smile. Isabella pulled the door wide open and gestured with her arm for her uncle to enter. He avoided her bed and instead, took a seat at her dressing table.
Isabella had to suppress a laugh at the sight of her uncle in front of her dressing table, littered with the beauty products she would be using that morning. He looked so out of place there and more than a little uncomfortable.
"I know everyone has probably already asked you this, and you're going to hear it a lot more today, but how are you doing? I mean really doing and not how are you pretending to be so you don't upset your brothers or make a scene of yourself in public?" Felipe leaned forward a little, almost as if to reach for Isabella, and then thought better of it, clasping his hands between his legs. Her uncle was a good man, but even he would admit to being uncomfortable around his teenaged niece.
"I'm okay." Felipe quirked his eyebrow at that statement and Isabella quickly amended it. "I mean, I will be. I hate that I'm never going to see him again. That this time next year I won't be flying out here for cuddles with my grandpa. But, a good friend reminded me a few days ago he's with mum now. And I'm kind of happy about that."
"I hadn't thought about it that way." Felipe smiled wistfully before turning back to his niece. "You know, just because father has passed on, doesn't mean you can't come back next year. We would still love to have you visit, Izzy." Felipe paused for a moment before adding, "Maybe you could bring this good friend with you." The way his eyebrows rose suggested news of Isabella's relationship with Edward had spread far past the United Kingdom.
"Maybe I will."
The morning of King Carlos's funeral found Edward curled up on his bed with his laptop in front of him. His parents were arriving any moment now to help finish packing what little he would be taking home with him that evening, but he couldn't find the desire to move from his spot. In less than an hour, Isabella would once again be facing the media gauntlet at yet another family funeral. And while he may not have been able to be by her side for support, he wanted to pay his own respects to a man who meant so much to Isabella.
She had called after dinner the evening before, but Edward hadn't spoken to her for long. Isabella had already been so tired and she needed to be up early to make the twenty-five mile drive northwest to El Escorial where her grandfather would be laid to rest. Most of her family had made the drive up the night before, but James and Charles Jr. hadn't liked the idea of staying at the place where their grandfather would be buried. So, King Charles had agreed to stay behind with his children and help Prince Filipe finalise plans for the wake that would follow, back at the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Edward couldn't wait for the day to be over, just so Isabella could finally take the time she needed to rest. She had confessed to him during their call that she hadn't been sleeping well, worrying about the service that was approaching and keeping her cool during it. Edward had never cursed his lack of passport so much before and vowed to apply for one as soon as he was back home. If Isabella ever had to go through something like this again, he wanted to be by her side, instead of hundreds of miles away.
Edward was so lost in his own thoughts he didn't hear his parents entering the apartment. Emmett was the one to let Esme and Carlisle Cullen into the building their son had called home for the last few months.
Esme's jaw almost hit the floor when he opened the front door for her. Edward had told them both that King Charles had provided them with a "nice" place to stay while they were at university, after all of the trouble they had faced on campus. But nice was not the word Esme would use to describe the apartment. Luxurious was the first to spring to her mind.
Carlisle gave his wife a less-than-subtle nudge with his elbow to encourage her to shut her mouth but Emmett only laughed. "I know, this place is far nicer than any of the student digs I stayed in." He winked at the older woman, who blushed three shades darker. Her husband simply rolled his eyes at her antics.
When Emmett came to a stop in front of Edward's door, he gave it a gentle knock before pushing it open. He wasn't at all surprised to find Edward in the centre of his bed, laptop open and Spanish news stations playing in the background. He had his own laptop opened to the same site back in his own room.
Edward straightened at the interruption and jumped a little at the sight of his parents standing in the door way. He had completely forgotten they were coming to pick him up.
"I'll leave you guys to it." Emmett turned to Edward before adding, "Give me a shout before you leave so I can call the caretaker over since he'll be housesitting for the holidays." He had just made to leave when Emmett suddenly stopped, remembering he had something for Edward. "Oh, before I forget, fill these in and leave them on the desk before you go." He threw a stack of papers down on the chest of drawers and then excused himself.
Carlisle picked them up to carry over to the bed as Esme took a good look around the room. "How have you been, son?" he asked gently.
"Good," Edward replied, sliding his laptop off to the side, to make room for his father. "I got all my work in on time and I'm having that last paper looked at again by Professor Merk, the head of the department. Now, I just need to revise and hopefully ace these exams in January."
Carlisle nodded his support as Esme came around the other side of the bed. She turned Edward's laptop to face her, the question of what he was watching on the tip of her tongue, before she saw Prince Filipe's image flash across the screen. Instead, she shuffled back onto the bed to make herself comfortable. Edward didn't need to ask any questions, he knew exactly what his parents were doing, and he loved them all the more for it.
Many people had turned out to line the streets of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, to pay their respects for their fallen king. It was eerily reminiscent of Queen Renee's funeral years before. Isabella kept her head down in the back of their car, as it made its way slowly to her grandfather's final resting place. Both of her brothers, usually so active and chatty, were silent as they picked at their nails or played with the buttons on their suit jacket. Charles's hand rested gently over Isabella's offering her the silent comfort she would need to get through the day.
When the car pulled up to the curb, the silence outside of El Escorial was deafening. Usually when crowds gathered for Royal events they were loud and energetic, but today, the entire country had come to show their support in a subdued manner.
King Charles exited first, extending a hand back to help Isabella out, her brothers following close behind. He didn't drop his daughter's hand after she had straightened up. Instead, he pulled her close to guide her into the Courtyard of Kings. He glanced back regularly, making sure James and Charles Jr were following behind them, as he led the way down to the Basilica where the publically broadcasted funeral service would be held.
The service itself was a blur for Isabella. She remembered her uncle getting up to speak. She remembered her father's arm snaking around her shoulders to pull her close as she sobbed silently into his chest. She remembered the sad smiles her brother's sent her way when she looked over to them, tears sparkling in their own eyes. But nothing in more detail.
When the public service was complete, the family were led quietly down to the Pantheon of Kings to say their final goodbyes in private. Isabella kept her head down to allow her aunts and uncles as much privacy as possible as they each spoke to the casket that held their father's body. When it was her own turn, her father gave her hand a gentle squeeze of encouragement and urged her forwards. Isabella couldn't find her voice to say what she wanted to say. So, instead, she gently kissed the lid of the casket, before laying her carnation, the national flower of Spain, in line with the other's left by her family.
When she moved back besides her brothers, her father stepped forward to take her place. He stood in silence for a while, gathering his thoughts, before he whispered, "take care of her up there," and placed his own carnation besides his daughter's. Isabella saw her father wipe his eyes when he thought nobody else was looking as he stood just a step behind his sons while they said their goodbyes. He then laid a gentle hand onto their shoulders as they stepped away, before ushering them off to the side and pulling them into a tight hug.
The drive back to Madrid was filled with silence. At one point, Isabella looked over and noticed James and Charles Jr had fallen asleep, but her father was still very much awake, staring silently out of the window. She knew when they arrived back at the Palace they would be expected to attend the wake that followed. She also knew her uncle had put a great deal of effort into making it more about a celebration of his father's life than the mourning of his passing. But she was in no mood to celebrate. All she wanted was the quiet of her room so she could grieve in peace.
When the car finally pulled to a stop, Isabella took a deep breath in to control her feelings. Her father sent her a sympathetic smile before bending to wake the boys from their nap. Filipe was already at the car door, extending a hand to help Isabella out of the car.
He pulled her into a gentle hug before whispering, "Just get something to eat and drink and then you can leave. I know this is the last place you want to be right now." Isabella squeezed her uncle a little tighter in thanks before following him to the room where the rest of his guests were waiting.
For the next hour, she made idle chat with the people that stopped her to talk and offer their condolences. She accepted each of them with the grace and dignity she was expected to have, before moving on to the next person. Until, finally, her uncle stepped in, a plate of food in his hands, excusing Isabella on the grounds of having something important he needed to discuss with her.
When they were out of the way of prying ears, he placed the plate and a discreet brown envelope into her hands. "Here, take this up to your room and get some rest. I've spoken with your father and we want you to have this," he gestured to the envelope. "It would be nice to have you back in time for my coronation. Your father and brothers will be returning for it in the New Year and I do hope you will join them. Maybe bring a friend along too. But for now, go home and rest. You've earned it."
Filipe gave her a gentle hug, mindful of the food in her arms, before heading back to his guest.
It wasn't until Isabella was safely back in her room that she opened the envelope to see what her uncle had given her. She smiled gently, before bursting into tears.
It had been a long couple of weeks.
As a note, I tried to keep all of the details surrounding the death of a member of the royal family as accurate as possible in this chapter but there was very little information available about the Spanish royal family and their procedures. Therefore, a little of this is taken from British Royal traditions, from information on where past Spanish royalty have been laid to rest and the rest is me filling in the blanks. I apologise if any of it is wildly inaccurate.
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