A/N:Quick note to my old readers. In case you are looking for Underworld, it was removed from FF. You can find it on AO3 and Fictionpad if you miss it.
A new journey begins. We're going to be traversing the Oregon Trail, folks.
Disclaimers: Not SM. Not even close.
"Hey, Momma." Bella Swan sank to her knees in the snow-covered ground of the little cemetery. "I come to say goodbye."'
She had to take a deep breath to steady her breathing, and she blinked back her tears. "Papa went on ahead of us two years back. He left me in good hands with the Cullens, like I told you before. We all want to make a life out in the Northwest.
"So we're leaving tomorrow for Independence, Missouri. I reckon that means I'm not going to see you again." She wiped at her eyes. "This wouldn't be happening at all if you hadn't passed. You know Papa would have done anything for you. He'd have kept you here in the city rather than head out into the wild unknown." She sighed. "But he says it's beautiful, and the Cullens will be there, too."
Bella bowed her head. "I'm going to try to be brave, Momma, but I'm scared. I've heard tales of the trail, the Oregon trail, and not all of them are good. People die out there. It may as well be across the world, for all the months we're going to spend in a wagon."
She sniffled once and sat up straighter. "But don't you worry none, Momma. Carlisle's going to take real good care of us. I figure we're at an advantage, what with him being a doctor and all. That's got to count for something. Plus he's got enough money to hire a guide. Best guide in the business, he said. We're leaving a little early." She sniffled again, getting a hold of herself. "We're going to Independence by steamboat, Momma. Ain't that exciting?"
Tightening her cloak around her shoulders, Bella traced her fingers over her mother's name. Her fingers trembled, and she pressed her fist to her mouth for a long moment. "I love you. I won't forget you. I swear I won't."
It was late March so it was still bitterly cold, especially out on the Missouri River. Still, Bella preferred to be on the deck instead of in the cabins below. In the cabins, it often seemed as though the walls threatened to close in. She was luckier than most. Steerage was far worse. Either way, the fresh, crisp air was preferable.
Bella started when she felt a light touch to her back.
"Sorry." Carlisle finished fixing her shawl about her shoulders. "Esme was worried you would catch your death of cold."
"I didn't mean to worry her."
"She's a mother, dear. It's in her nature." He rested his arms on the rail and looked out. "It's beautiful out here."
"Yes. Already so different from New York." She nodded at the banks, covered in blossoming greenery. "It looks to be a plentiful spring."
"That would be my hope." He took a deep breath. "Are you frightened, Bella? About the trek I mean. You haven't said much."
Bella didn't speak right away. She thought of lying, but she couldn't see the point. Carlisle had always been honest with her, and though she was only eighteen, he treated her like a proper adult. "Does it matter if I'm frightened? There's nowhere to go but on."
"Still, if you have concerns…"
"Same as you have, I'd wager. Five months, thousands of miles of walking, and I've heard the same stories you have."
"You have to remember, Bella, many of the stories come from well before the trail was so well traveled. There are many more posts and ferries to take us across most river crossings. We know a lot of things now the first travelers didn't."
"Hundreds die every year still."
He rested his hand on her back. "Your father survived."
"I saw the letters to you, Carlisle. He was dying when the train reached Oregon. He barely survived."
"I didn't realize you'd seen those letters."
"I snooped. I'm sorry."
"We should have told you." He smiled at her. "Between Emmett, the Hales, and me, we have considerable expertise. You, Esme, Alice, and Rosalie are braver than we are by far. We'll make it. All of us. Plus I hear James Hunter and his crew are the best guides around. They led your father's group."
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "We've taken every precaution. Our wagon won't be overburdened since we've had all our belongings sent by freight. We have many advantages others in our train won't. We'll be fine."
She took a deep breath. "I know. I've done my whining. Now I'm ready to be brave."
A/N: So that's Bella.
Thank you to songster, barburella, and everydaybella. They are all indulgent sweethearts.
Okay. This will begin posting when Suddenly and All I Have To Give are done, which should be less than two weeks.
Thoughts? Fears? Guesses? See you soon and our adventure will begin.