Chapter 23 – Epilogue

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A/N Alice's PoV here, to help us understanding better what happened and to have an idea of what the future will bring to our beloved characters.

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A few weeks after…

I Saw what Edward was going to do and what the outcome would be. It took an enormous effort to keep a poker face and deflect him by filling my mind with inanities, but I managed to do it. Without exactly knowing why, I felt that he had to drink the cup to the bitter end for things to work out as they should.

My only interference was to offer him the cabin's key, because otherwise he would have gone deep into the forest, and that wasn't a good idea: Bella would have never found him and there were dangers for a human lying unconscious in the wilderness. But I Saw that if he was in a cabin all would be fine.

I Saw also what he would do to terminate his life. He said a sentence - it was from Faust, I guess - and somebody came for him, but he already had his eyes tightly shut. I didn't understand the vision, at first, nor could I see the visitor's face, heavily veiled as he was. I saw Edward suffer - he bit his hands to keep from crying out - and then change.

Later, when he told Bella and me what had happened to him in that small Canadian lake, I understood. The weirdest thing is that Death's promise held true: Edward will indeed die, because this is what happens to humans – only, not right now. The fact that Death gave him what he had asked for, adding as a bonus what he craved most, is amazing. He had never asked for humanity – he probably hadn't realized that it was his deepest desire - but he earned it all the same.

Less than two years had passed between Edward's decision to leave the Volturi and this miracle that has now claimed him. In those years he'd changed in ways immortals aren't supposed to be able to do. And the change had started long before he met Bella. At the end, he immolated himself for her - to preserve her humanity - and so he was given a second chance at being human himself.

The tale of the Cold One who became warm through love is now part of the Quileutes' legends and will be told again and again at the bonfires, magic and timeless as their other stories.

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The little packages with the SD cards are all gone, delivered to the tribal chiefs. As I can't See the wolves, I don't know where they went, nor does Edward. His mind reading ability is lost, albeit I can say that he is a highly perceptive man, uncannily so. Maybe he had this gift when he was human the first time. We'll never know, because he hasn't recovered the memories of his youth.

Preparing the packages was fun; Edward acted as director of the filmed bits, while the written part was composed very carefully, so that it would be taken seriously and investigated. I don't See them being sent, however, no media storm. Therefore we hope that our strategy will succeed.

As for the letter, I mailed it today. It amused me to write it in Latin- while, strictly speaking, Aro's native language is Etruscan. What is known of that language is too little to draft a good letter. I have Seen and enjoyed his rage on receiving it. Impotent rage, to be sure. However, he is a realist and knows when he is beaten.

Coming to Edward and Bella, their happiness seems to know no bounds. Stunned at first, Edward wouldn't leave her side, unable to figure out how he had gotten a reprieve, how this was not some cosmic joke. Bella was, at that moment, his only anchor to reality. But Edward was human all right, and new human needs started to make themselves felt: the need to eat solid food, the need to sleep and other embarrassing physiological needs he had done without for such a long time. He took them in his stride - I would even say he embraced them with good humor and curiosity. So much so that I started to wonder if it meant something. It did, because then I Saw his subsequent choices. Overjoyed, I kept silent. He had to go there by himself. It is strange but if – being a vampire no longer – Edward had lost a mate in the immortal sense, there was no doubt that he still had his soul mate. Bella had loved him before and loved him even more now. Because he was finally at peace with himself and the sense of impending doom that had hovered over them was gone. They were free.

Now I have two weddings to organize. Edward and Bella's, of course, and Kevin and Leah's as well. Then we will leave the Olympic Peninsula and go elsewhere, with different names. We won't be able to call ourselves Cullen anymore, much as it saddens me.

Kevin will have to pay a penance, unfortunately. He can't go back to his Canadian University, nor continue with his career as an Ethno-linguist. In Volterra they knew he existed and had written a paper about the Tikuna's legends and the Moon Man. So he will 'die' in a stupid accident – drowned in the Sol Duc - and resurrect with a new identity. Jasper has resumed contacts with J. Jenks, who is useful as always. Kevin will be teaching Spanish and raising a family with Leah, who will be glad not to phase any longer. I can See something of his future but not all - lingering effects of his wife's shape shifting - however I trust they will be happy.

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A few years later

The intercom buzzes. It's Bella, telling me she's finished for the day and we can leave. The Cedar Foundation for the protection of forests and their native people has had another productive week. When we decided to create a memorial for our loved ones, we looked for a name that was meaningful for us without giving any clue to outsiders. Our burnt home in the Olympic Peninsula was also known as the Cedar House, for the majestic trees surrounding it, an is the acronym of the initials of Carlisle, Esme, Da for Emmett Dale and R for Rosalie, of course. A green cedar tree stands proudly on the Foundation's logo.

Edward's life is also a memorial. He is a doctor now, and a very good one, his eerie perceptiveness making him great at diagnostics. Very often he can identify what ails a patient well before all the tests are done. In him, there is something of Carlisle living on.

As we get to Bella's home – the home she shares with Edward, while I and Jasper live nearby – the kids run to us crying "Mom, aunt Ali!" and jump in our arms.

When Bella found herself pregnant, soon after Edward had turned human, we all had a terrible scare. I couldn't See clearly, and there was the possibility that she had conceived when Edward was still a vampire. They had come together with passion and despair, with no idea of protection entering their minds. What would have happened in such a case is uncertain. She wanted her baby, but she could well be killed by the unnatural pregnancy – at least according to the Amazonian legends, the only things we had to go by. The first scans, however, showed a normal human fetus and, within the regular 9 months, Esme Rose was born. Four years later baby Emmett joined his sister.

I play with the children while the babysitter goes home and Bella cooks – Edward so loves to eat after two centuries of liquid diet. Fortunately he doesn't get fat. In fact he is remarkably healthy, and keeps fit by running.

This evening, when our husbands arrive, we must discuss our next move. We'll have to relocate, if we still want to live near each other and be seen together. A time will come when Jasper and I will become Edward and Bella's nephew and niece. Probably, that is, because they asked me not to look too much in their personal future, and I have obeyed. I don't want to know when they will die. I can't stand the idea.

Obviously the Cedar Foundation has no address, just a beautiful website, designed by Jasper. Visitors to our premises aren't encouraged. We have local and field offices, of course, and we have some staff here, that we will have to let go with a generous severance when we relocate. Edward's former broker, Rick, is our Treasurer, a very good one, and Bella is our Chair. Jasper and I keep in the background, while the humans organize fundraisers and conferences and are the Foundation's public faces, even on TV, when needed. But Rick, who loves his job, has to see us, and at a certain moment he will notice that my husband and I don't age. Shall we tell him the truth, or at least part of it? It is still blurry in my vision.

And we have another problem too: the time will come when we'll have to tell the children the truth, because not to see them anymore is unthinkable. Esme Rose, who is observant and curious, confounds us with questions already, about her aunt and uncle never being hungry, for instance. I don't think we can stall much longer. After all, she is already ten years old.

While I am musing about it, a sudden vision hits me.

I'm Seeing Emmett as a young man, tall and handsome, with his mother's dark locks and his father's green eyes, when he suddenly changes. The boy is now running in a forest, still very handsome, but he is pale, with butterscotch irises and very, very fast. He is not alone in the woods, but I can't See his companion. Could it be a wolf? We still visit our friends in La Push and sometimes also Kevin and Leah join us with their young family.

Emmett is laughing, and I see his lips mouthing a name: Sue.

Wait, wait! Sue is one of Leah's children, bearing her granny's name. Has the shape shifting gene passed on her?

Oh God, Emmett will become a vampire at a certain point, it's evident. What will cause it to happen? And will he be Sue's imprint and mate?

Too many questions remain unanswered when the door opens and Edward comes in. I have barely the time to compose myself. What will I tell him and Bella?

- THE END -

Notes

The story of Emmett and Sue won't be told here and now. Maybe never, who knows? I just gave you a glimpse of the future and now I rest my hand.

I have just to say thanks to a lot of people: My readers first of all. Where would I be with no readers? Then those who took the time to review. Bless you, to post in a void would have been so depressing!

Then my Pre readers and Betas Raum, Serendipitous-Meilleur Café, Nuttyginger (for the first chapters) and Echoingwhisper/Elena. My final editor was Stefanie The Hobbit Ivy. A special thank you to Miaokuancha, who edited the last moment changes I made to this chapter.

Important: The Fleeting Moment is entirely translated into Italian (by me, with the title L'attimo fuggente) and I might post it quickly in the next weeks. So, if I am in your author's alert, you might receive notices. Just delete them.