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A/N: The last chapter... *blubbers heavily* I can't believe I made it...
Thank you to all who gave this story a chance, and for the continued support! You guys are what makes life worth living, and this girl keep writing.
Here's hoping all your dreams come true.
She had told Edward no.
Despite the fact that she had burst through the door looking like a crazy homeless person, it had been surprisingly anti-climatic after that. She could tell he was hurt and possibly slightly insulted that she had refused him, but there was no screaming fits, no demands for why, no 'you'll regret this' type threats. Instead, there had been an almost quite reflection between the two of them and Bella realized at that moment that perhaps she hadn't been the only one having second thoughts.
"It hasn't been the same has it?" Edward asked softly.
Bella didn't have to ask, she knew exactly what day he was referring too. "No, it hasn't," she replied simply.
"Do you think if it would have been different if I hadn't...?"
"I don't know," she answered honestly.
He frowned lightly. "I thought I'd be more upset," he said, his voice carrying the faintest hint of disbelief. "I mean, yes, I'm upset, but I feel like – " His eyes darted back and forth as he searched for a response.
"It's the right choice?" Bella filled in softly.
He blinked wonderingly. "Yeah," he breathed.
"It might not mean much, but I'm sorry."
"No, Bella," Edward replied, more sincerity in his face and voice then she had ever seen before. "I'm sorry. I put you and my family through hell during those months. I may have thought I was doing the right thing, but you didn't deserve that." He chuckled wryly. "I was a self-righteous little bastard, wasn't I?"
"Yeah," she agreed, nudging his shoulder and grinning slightly. "You kinda were." She shrugged. "And I was kind of co-dependent."
He laughed again. "God, what a pair we are."
She leaned back against the glass window his low bed was pushed against. "Regular odd couple."
"Two wrongs don't make a right, I guess," he sighed, leaning beside her.
Her brows furrowed. "Shouldn't this be harder?" She turned her head to look at him. "Shouldn't we be arguing or something?"
A half-grin tilted his lips."Why? Do you want to?" He elbowed her playfully. "Give everyone downstairs a show?"
"See what I mean?" she replied, gesturing wildly between them. "Everything was always so intense with us in the beginning, why is this so different?"
"Ah," he said, tilting his head in contemplation. "I think you already answered yourself with the 'in the beginning' part. Things change, I suppose." He paused. "We changed."
"I thought you said vampires don't change?"
He stared at her intently. "You changed me, Bella. I needed someone to convince me that I wasn't a monster, and you did that." He reached out for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "And I'll always be grateful for it."
Bella smiled as a happy tear trailed down her cheek.
This didn't feel like an ending, instead it felt like a new beginning.
They broke the news to the rest of the family together, Bella both surprised and grateful for Edward's involvement. Apparently her fears of him storming off and brooding somewhere for a few hours, while she awkwardly stood around and bared the brunt of the families disappointed stares were unfounded.
The questions she had been expecting from Edward came from them instead as they struggled to make sense of how such a supposedly passionate union had dissolved into an amicable split. Bella had floundered around helplessly for an explanation that didn't begin with, "So I had these dreams, right..." when help came from a surprising source.
"Love," Emmett began thoughtfully, "force it and it disappears. You cannot will love, nor even control it. You can only guide its expression. It comes or it goes according to those qualities in life that invite it or deny its presence."
Seven sets of eyes blinked slowly.
"I'm sorry, what?" Edward sputtered disbelievingly.
"I can be deep. It just comes and goes," Emmett replied, immediately going back to his video game. "Oh and the opposite of congratulations to you two for your non-upcoming nuptials," he included distractedly.
Rose rolled her eyes and Bella laughed, thankful that Emmett's... Emmett-ness, had succeeded in breaking up the tension in the room.
Esme and Carlisle took turns hugging her, ensuring her emphatically that she was still part of the family, marriage or no marriage. Bella had to force herself not to look at Jasper when they said that, secretly hoping that marriage was still in the equation.
Rose stared at her thoughtfully, her face blank. Bella braced herself, certain that she'd be angry that she broke her little brother's heart, but instead she nodded her head minutely and Bella felt something akin to understanding pass between them.
She was engulfed in the petite vampire's embrace seconds later. "You made the right choice," Alice whispered in her ear.
Bella jerked back and stared into Alice's golden eyes.
"Why did... what have you seen?" she whispered back fiercely.
Alice smiled softly. "I've seen the future, Bella." Her eye grew misty as her smile grew. "And it's beautiful."
"Are you saying..?" she began hopefully.
Alice cut her off. "Beau–ti–ful," she repeated, punctuating every syllable with a tap to her nose.
Bella's eyes darted nervously around the living room.
"He's upstairs," Alice said helpfully.
She turned teary eyes back to her friend. "Alice, I can't even begin to –"
Alice shook her head. "No thanks needed. No apologies either," she warned playfully.
Alice tucked a strand of hair over her ear. "I'll talk to him, he'll understand, don't worry."
She chuckled wryly. "Feels like all I've been doing this past week is worrying."
"Well, it's time to stop," Alice ordered, placing her hands on her shoulders and twisting her until she faced the stairs. "Go get him," she encouraged, nudging gently at her back.
Bella inhaled deeply, squared her shoulders and headed resolutely forward until her feet rested against the bottom step.
She looked up the stairs.
She looked up towards her future.
She turned around and ran.
Bella puttered morosely around the kitchen.
She'd been so concerned that she'd burst into the library, fall into his arms and babble about the beautiful children they'd have and he'd just look at her like the crazy lady she felt like, that she took the coward's way out, ignoring Alice's cries to, "Come back!" as she darted out the door.
And even if that hadn't ruined everything, she was certain her running had. The last thing she saw before peeling out of the driveway in her rusty truck was Jasper gazing at her brokenly from the upstairs window.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, Bella cursed, kicking at the linoleum floor beneath her feet. She had the chance to lock in that future, Alice had practically served it to her on a silver platter, and now she had messed it all up. I bet I end up all alone no –
Her head jerked towards the front door so quickly she almost gave herself whiplash and she stared at it so long that whoever was on the other side grew impatient, forgoing the bell, and began knocking instead.
"Bella?" The sound of Jasper calling her name out caused her heart to stutter in her chest. "I know you're in there darlin', I can hear your heart beating."
It was the darlin' that got her feet moving, forced into action by the memory of the future that was entwined with the honey accented nickname that rolled off his lips.
She held her breath as her hand curled around knob, knowing that whatever waited on the other side of that door could either make or break her. She exhaled and pulled the door open, unable to stop herself from smiling slightly as she got her first look at the normally cool and collected vampire shifting uncomfortably on her porch.
Her breath hitched when he looked at her, thinly veiled hope shining brightly in his golden gaze. "Can we talk?" he asked softly.
"Only if you're here for the right reasons," she teased, the same emotion reflected in her own eyes.
He smiled and Bella beckoned him forward.
As he walked over the threshold, she heard two clicks.
One was the door closing behind him.
The other was her future locking firmly into place.
A/N2: CHOCOLATE FOR THE WIN BABY!
It hasn't sunk in yet that I've actually finished my first, more than two chapters, story. The relief of actually finishing something, quickly, I tells you is astounding.
And writing Edward and Alice nice and supportive, I gotta say, it's incredibly freeing. I hope you enjoyed this version of them, because I surprisingly loved writing them this way! I know it's incredibly different from the way I portrayed him in the Edward dream, but I like to think that Bella standing up and telling him no for once, has changed him for the better.
I got the feeling from your reviews for the last chapter, that some of you were hoping for more, but the truth is, their future has already been written.
Thanks again! See you on the next one!... I hope. :)
*Love force it and it disappears. You cannot will love, nor even control it. You can only guide its expression. It comes or it goes according to those qualities in life that invite it or deny its presence - David Seabury*