Title: Open Hearts and Open Hands

Author: magan bagan

Rating: M

Summary: When his father is injured and can't tend to his land, Edward returns to the Amish, the life he'd left behind. While there he encounters a young woman who is shunned. Every day she is ignored. Every day her spirit grows a little dimmer. Edward finds himself drawn to her, but must break through some barriers, hers and their communities, to win her heart.

Warning: Be aware that there are some sensitive topics mentioned. They are alluded to, but not discussed in detail.

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. All Stephanie Meyer. The plot idea is my own, everything else is purely fiction.

Edward pulled up to his parent's home, tugging on the reins urging the horse to come to a stop with a murmured, "Whoa." The clip clop of its hooves on the ground stopped and their breaths huffed out steadily, billowing into the air. He moved around to the back of the buggy and grabbed his bags, stopping to look back up at the structure before him.

It felt strange to be back. To see the house he'd lived in for eighteen years. Like so many other in the community, it was warm and inviting, simple. But it had never really felt like home to him.

As Edward made his way toward the steps, the front door creaked open and a slight figure stepped out onto the porch. His mother, beautiful even in the plain clothes of the Amish, watched him with a hesitant smile on her face. Though her hair had streaks of gray and her eyes looked dark with exhaustion, she didn't appear any older than the day he'd left.

She met him at the bottom of the stairs and he was finally able to see her tear stained cheeks. "My boy. Oh, Edward."

Edward set his bags down and pulled her into his arms. "Maemm." Her familiar scent of lavender and cloves filled him with warmth security, something he hadn't realized he'd been missing.

Her arms wrapped securely around him and her body shook as he realized she was crying.

"Maemm, it's okay." He rested his chin on top of her head and rubbed her back soothingly as she sobbed against him. "It's okay." He didn't know what else to do, so he just held onto her and let her cry it out.

When she finally seemed to calm down, Esme pulled back to take in her son and they shared a look that said it all. She took his face in her hands and rubbed his cheeks with her thumbs, complete adoration all over her face. Edward leaned down and kissed Esme's forehead before stepping out of her embrace.

"Come on. Let's get you settled in." Esme smiled.

He picked up his bags again and followed his mother inside, bracing himself for whatever greetings awaited him from the rest of his family. He hadn't seen or spoken to any of them in over six years and he didn't know just how welcomed back he would be. It hadn't been an easy decision or one that he'd really wanted to make, but he knew that coming back would be even more difficult.

Esme had Edward place his bags near the foot of the stairs and led him into the family room. She took his large hand into her small one and gave it a squeeze.

Edward took it all in, allowing the memories of simplicity and love take him over.

His father, Carlisle, sat resting in his well worn chair. The leg he had broken was elevated on the coffee table, his blond hair and beard longer than the last time Edward had seen him. Though he looked exhausted, the smile on his face showed his contentment.

Besides his siblings, two other people waited in the room. A brother and sister that Edward remembered going to school with. Jasper and Rosalie Hale. They had all been friends growing up and Edward could recall that his older brother had sought to court Rosalie before he left.

As he watched, Emmett sat beside Rosalie now, his hand firmly in hers and his cheeks dimpled with his smile. It was strange to watch the big man so humbled and caring around the woman, but they somehow just fit.

Jasper stood in the back if the room with Alice, Edward's younger sister. Her normally excitable, bouncing personality seemed calmed, subdued. A simple touch shared between them spoke volumes of their connection. She had grown up so much since Edward had last seen her, he was sure that if they weren't married yet, they would be soon.

The hum of their chatter had filled the room, but when Esme made her way to Carlisle's side they all quieted down. He took his wife's hand in his and kissed the knuckles. "My love, look who's here."

Everyone's eyes darted to the entrance to the room where Edward stood. No one spoke at first, but he could see their eyes widen in surprise. He felt uncomfortable under the scrutiny of their gazes, but Edward forced himself to remain still.

They were his family, after all.

After some time, Carlisle looked his son in the eyes and nodded.

That was the best he'd be able to expect from his father. The fact that he'd been able to come back at all had been a surprise in and of itself, but to think he'd get any more from him would have been a setup for disappointment.

"Welcome home," Alice said softly, her voice a tinkle in the otherwise quiet space. She walked shyly over to her brother, almost hesitantly. It was unlike the young girl he could recall from before. When she was close enough, Alice stopped in front of Edward and looked up at him warily.

She was still over a foot shorter than him, but beautiful. Her black hair was pinned meticulously out of her face. She smiled up at him, and whatever she found their seemed to relax her because she stepped forward into his embrace and hugged him tightly.

"I've missed you, short stuff," Edward said, loud enough that only she could hear.

Her shoulders shook and Edward wasn't sure if it was from laughter or tears, but when she pulled back he saw her eyes were bright with excitement, her lips parted in a wide smile, and her freckled nose scrunched with her grin.

He kissed her forehead and glanced over to the others in the room.

It didn't really surprise him that none of them said anything. He just nodded in acknowledgement to the stares and cleared his throat. Returning to the life he left behind wouldn't be easy, he'd known that the moment he'd received his mother's letter asking for his help. Seeing his family's response to him, though, Edward was sure that it would take a bit more work than he'd thought.

Esme ran a hand down her husband's cheek, the look they shared full of love and devotion, before she rose to her feet. "Alice, Rose, and I are going to get started on dinner. We'll leave the men to their discussions," she said with a hint of finality.

The ladies headed to the kitchen, leaving the four men alone. Edward didn't move from his spot for a few minutes, before he finally sighed and sat down in one of the chairs set up around the living. The other men continued to sit in awkward until Carlisle finally cleared his throat, breaking the uncomfortable tension in the room.

Ooo~Ooo~Ooo

Edward woke the following morning just before dawn. Despite his time away, he'd never truly been able to break himself of the habit. So after washing up and changing into his clothes for the day, Edward made his way downstairs.

The familiar sounds of activity coming from the kitchen caused his lips to curve up in a slight smile. He found a fresh cup of coffee on the dining table and a plate with breakfast on it that smelled wonderful.

Once he'd eaten, he went out to get an idea of the work that lay ahead of him. From what he'd been able to observe, there was plenty that needed to be taken care of, on the property as well as on the fields. So much in fact that he figured he might need an extra set of hands in order to get it all finished.

He went back to the house and made a list of the supplies that he needed and was about to head out to ready the buggy and horse when he heard a thump and groan from the stairs.

Leaning up against the handrail was Carlisle, sweat pooled on his forehead and determination set on his features. Edward watched as his father slowly made his way down the rest of the steps, the cast on his injured leg thumping with each movement. When he finally made it to the bottom, Edward was at his side to help him to his destination.

"I can do it myself," Carlisle grumbled under his breath.

Edward sighed, but didn't let his father's bad mood deter him. He put one arm around the older man's side to ensure that he had a firm grip on him and began to lead him slowly to the family room. "I know that you can, but you don't have to." With that, Edward helped him walk and then got him settled down in his favorite chair.

After a moment of awkward silence, Edward cleared his throat. "Okay. I'll be back."

"Thank you, son," Carlisle said, his words so soft Edward wasn't sure at first that he'd actually heard them. But the expression on his face, the small hint of vulnerability, told him he hadn't misheard him.

In order not to embarrass him further, Edward simply nodded and turned to leave.

Since the stables were set up at the back of the property, Edward decided to leave through the kitchen. Esme and Alice had the space filled with the smells of their cooking with the evidence of their day spread out all over the place. A few pies sat in the window sill to cool, Alice set down a pan of the bread that she'd pulled from the oven, and even better smells came wafting from the stove.

"Edward." Esme grinned up at me, her cheeks spread so far with her excitement it almost looked as though they would snap from the pressure. "Do you need something?"

He shook his head. "I'm just heading into town. And this is the quickest way to the stables."

Alice wiped her hands on her apron."May I join you? There are some goods that I need to bring to Sue."

Shrugging, Edward nodded. "Sure. Just let me get the horses ready." He made is way out back and brought out the two horses he'd ridden to the house with. When they were attached to the buggy and he had the reins resting on the front seat, he called for his sister and they packed up what she was bringing.

The ride into town was surprisingly quiet. Before he'd left, there was hardly ever a time that Alice would sit in silence, her energy a marvel to behold. To see her so grown up and comfortable with herself, was a shock to him. But it was a beautiful sight to behold, to see his sister becoming a wonderful woman.

The life of the Amish was all about simplicity: how they dressed, the homes they lived in, the toys and art that they made. And even though they kept themselves separated from the English and the modern world, they still relied on outside communication for certain things that they couldn't provide for themselves.

So when Edward arrived in town, he stopped at Newtons and told Alice that he would meet up with her when he was finished. He entered the establishment, prepared to be turned away by the owner.

"Edward. Nice to see you again." Michael Newton stood behind a counter at the back of the store. "Webishtew?"

He rubbed the back of his neck, surprised by the greeting. "Well. I'm doing well, thank you." He took one more look around the store before he stopped in front of Michael. "I, uh, I need to place an order. If that's all right?"

"Of course. What do you need?" Michael pulled a notepad in front of him and poised a pen of the paper. Edward gave him the list and waited as Michael repeated the order back to him, assuring that was everything. "Some of this is in the back and I will get that for you when we're done here. The rest I can have sent out for later today and get word to you when it has all come in."

"Great. I have to go get Alice from Sue's, but I should be back within the hour," Edward called over his shoulder as he left the shop. He walked through the town center, surprised by the greetings he received. People he hadn't seen in years waved and called out to him as though he'd never left. It didn't make sense to him.

He found Alice in the bakery shop that was mostly frequented by the English. Not only were baked goods offered, but also handmade quilts, painted dishes, and dolls. It was a way for the women in the community use their hard work for something more.

Alice smiled at Edward as she continued speaking with Renee Swan, her body nearly vibrating with excitement. "It'll be perfect timing. The spring gathering will be just the right time to welcome my brother home."

Edward tensed at the mention of the big party that was thrown every year around that time. The last time he'd attended it, a number of the girls he'd grown up with had expressed their interest in him. Shaking his head, Edward pushed those memories to the back of his mind and glanced behind the counter briefly.

Something caught his attention so he turned his attention back and froze where he stood. A girl seemed to be working back there, moving some of the merchandise around. There was something about her that seemed very familiar, but Edward wasn't sure what.

Her hair was long, mahogany strands that curled at the ends and her skin was pure porcelain. The set of her shoulders seemed to slump forward with each step. Even her face seemed to age as she moved. Then she looked up and their eyes met.

In that one, solitary moment, the rest of the world disappeared. All Edward saw was that girl, and the sadness that radiated off of her. He felt a pull between them, an urge to scoop her up in his arms and never let her go, to take away her sadness. It was something he'd never felt before and it frightened him.

He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but before he could, the girl darted out of his line of sight. The encounter happened so quickly that Edward found himself questioning whether it had actually happened or not.

Ooo~Ooo~Ooo

On the way back to his parents' home, Edward replayed the events of that afternoon over and over in his mind. The way the rest of the people in the community people spoke to him, the sad girl behind the counter.

"Is it strange?" Alice's voice broke through his thoughts, tiny and hesitant. "To be back?"

"Yes and no." He glanced over at his sister, his hands firmly holding the horse's reins. "I never expected to be back here when I first left. That was something I'd prepared for, to never see my family or be around the community again. But, now that I am, it feels almost as though I never left."

Alice nodded as though she understood, smiling at her brother. "Why, um… Why did you leave?"

Edward sighed. He knew at some point that she'd ask him. Alice had only been twelve at the time and he didn't know how to truly explain his struggles to her. So, like the coward that he was, Edward had left a letter on her pillow and a journal with music he'd composed over the years for her.

He took a moment to find the right words before speaking. "Though this place is familiar and what I've always known, I've never really felt as though I belong. Everyone has found something that gives them purpose, a sense that they are home and at peace." He shrugged. "I've been looking for my home."

They rode in silence for a bit, his words hanging in the air around them.

Alice reached over and touched Edward's shoulder, a tentative touch. "Mother and father always knew that you would return. They cried for days after you were gone, but I can remember hearing them talk one night when they thought I'd gone to bed."

Hearing how hurt his parents had been, tore Edward up inside.

"Maemm wanted to go after you, to bring you home, but Dad told her that you needed time. He said that you would return when you were ready and they had to respect your wishes. He then promised her that they would tell the Elders that you went to stay with family in a different community so you wouldn't be ostracized."

Edward had no idea how to respond to her revelation. If he'd been in the city and driving his car, he was sure that he would have driven off the road with how shocked he was. His father, Carlisle Cullen, had lied to the Elders to protect him. He'd heard the words, and repeated them to himself over and over, but somehow he couldn't quite make himself believe them. Had his father really cared that much?

He appreciated that his sister let him absorb her words.

When they arrived at their parents' home, Edward got out of the buggy first and then helped his sister down. He moved to the back and began to unload the items he was able to get from Newtons when he called to Alice, "Who was that girl at the bakery?"

Alice paused and looked at her brother? "What girl?"

He hefted two bags of seeds onto his shoulder. "The one that was working in the back, behind the counter. She had brown hair and was a little bit taller than you."

Her eyes widened, and for a moment it didn't seem that she would answer, then she leaned forward and said in a near whisper. "That was Isabella Swan, but we can't talk about her," and with that she made her way inside the house.

Ooo~Ooo~Ooo

For the next couple of weeks, Edward worked steadily. He got the equipment and supplies he needed pretty quickly and was able to start his tasks. Most of his time was spent tilling the soil and then fixing a few odds and ends in the house. Once the soil was ready, he'd be able to begin planting.

When he could, he tried to find out information about Isabella Swan, but no one was willing to say anything. They all clammed up and changed the subject, or whispered to him that they couldn't discuss it.

He figured he'd just have to talk to her himself. The only thing he remembered about her was that she was the same age as his sister. She'd been a quiet girl with a few friends, but mostly kept to herself.

The only time he'd be able to get anywhere near her was at the spring gathering. So when the day came, Edward went with his siblings and their significant others into town and helped his father to a chair for him to rest.

Food was set up outside and he greeted the ladies that helped serve it. They smiled shyly at him, but quietly offered suggestions and scooped the food on the dish for him.

He sat at a wooden table near his siblings, but with enough room to separate them so that he still sat alone. They conversed with their friends, laughing and enjoying the time together, while Edward observed. He had always found it easier to watch those around him and listen, than to participate himself.

When they got up to dance and interact with the rest of the people around them, Edward pushed his plate to the side. He felt basically the same as he had six years ago. Being Amish was a part of him, how he'd grown up, but he just didn't feel a connection to those around him. Something was missing that he couldn't quite figure out.

Women, younger and older, huddled around the dance area. They smiled shyly at one another and glanced at the men in hopes they could coax them to ask for a dance.

Close to a large oak tree, Edward saw a group of younger guys gathered together. They seemed to be showing off amongst one another by proving who was the strongest. The younger girls not gathered by the music and dancing, watched as the guys flaunted their strength. One guy in particular seemed familiar to him, but Edward couldn't quite place him.

The guy flexed his muscles and flaunted his strength with each win. There was almost a cruelty to how he responded to the others. It wasn't outright, but seemed to linger in the air, dangerously.

Off in the distance, heading into the forest, Edward saw a familiar rush of brown curls dart through the trees. He glanced around him to see if anyone was paying attention. When it appeared that they were not, Edward quietly headed for the trees and followed after the sad girl.

He'd catch a glimpse of her hair every once in a while, thankful that he was headed in the right direction. The trees grew thicker and denser the further he walked, until eventually he came to a clearing. Rays of sunlight broke through the trees and he knew that he was coming to an opening in the forest.

Breaking through, it was clear to Edward that he'd come to a small meadow. Flowers covered the ground, birds chirped in the trees, and a brook off in the distance offered a comforting melody of music.

A few twigs snapped under his feet as he stepped further into the meadow.

Isabella's head darted in his direction and she looked ready to flee. Her doe-like eyes even wider and filled with fear. She backed away from him, nervously darting her eyes around, most likely searching for a means of escape. Her chest rose and fell quickly as she breathed frantically. The deep, haunted look in her eyes rocked him to his very foundation.

"It's okay, Isabella. I'm not going to hurt you." Edward held his hands up in surrender.

She eyed him cautiously, but halted her efforts to escape.

"You might not remember me, I've been gone for a long time." He tried to keep his voice soothing and gentle as he spoke. "I'm Edward Cullen."

Again, she didn't say anything, but continued to watch him carefully.

He ran a hand through his hair, tugging on the ends before lowering his arm back to his side. "Listen, I didn't mean to frighten you. I just… After how you reacted to me in the bakery, I was curious about you. You're just so sad." He waited to see if she'd respond, but when it appeared that she wouldn't, he turned to leave.

"Why do you care?"

Edward froze mid step.

Her voice. It was beautiful, soft. A little hoarse, but still beautiful.

Edward managed a shrug. "I'm not sure."

Isabella bit her lip, her eyes filling with tears. "No one has spoken to me in six months."

He didn't quite know how to respond to her statement. Her words so haunted. With a great effort, Edward turned to face the sad girl. "Why?"

She hiccupped through her tears, shaking her head. "Just… Just stay away."

Before he could say anything, she was gone. Leaving Edward even more confused than before.

Ooo~Ooo~Ooo

After their initial encounter, Edward tried to put her out of his mind. He knew what it was like to feel alone. But there was something about her, something that drew him in and he couldn't quite figure out what it was.

In a desperate attempt for any contact, Edward finally wrote her a letter and brought it to the meadow. He had no idea if she'd actually be there, but he figured that it would be his best chance. He didn't want to frighten her even more, so he tried to keep the letter simple. He told her why he had returned and how strange it had been to incorporate himself back into that society.

A couple of days later, he went back and found an envelope with his name on it. The grin that spread across his lips was wide. He could scarcely believe that she had responded to his letter. It wasn't long, or truly informative, but it was a step in the right direction.

Leading into the summer, they continued to write back and forth to one another. Opening up more and more the longer they progressed. Their biggest secrets still remained, but Edward was sure that they would eventually be shared. And the evening that they finally agreed to meet at their spot, Edward felt freer than he had in quite some time.

He excitedly joined in the conversation at the dinner table, hardly noticing his family's surprised expressions. For once, he decided to just be and it felt good, right.

Esme smiled teary-eyed at him from across the table, her expression filled with motherly affection. Even Emmett patted his brother on the back and told him it was good to see him so happy. The lightness of the atmosphere seemed to be just what everybody needed.

To Edward, it felt like days had passed before it was finally time for him to meet Isabella. He could hardly contain himself as he quietly left the house, feeling like a teenager having snuck out to go to a party. The lantern he carried to light his way in the dark, swayed back and forth with each step.

Isabella had settled herself against a fallen log when he arrived, her hair down as it had been both times he'd seen her, wild and beautiful. She curled her legs up to her chest, her cheek resting against her knees. She smiled sadly when Edward sat down beside her.

"Hello," I ground out, unsure of what else to say.

A tremor racked through Isabella's body, the movement painful to watch.

"Hello," she said, barely above a whisper.

Edward longed to offer her some form of comfort, anything to ease the obvious distress she endured, but he knew that he couldn't. The excitement he'd felt earlier that evening seemed a distant memory as he watched her struggle and fought back his desire to protect the already broken girl before him.

If he wanted her to open up to him, he knew that he had to let her do it on her own terms.

So they sat, their breathing the only sound.

Isabella pinched her eyes closed, her face contorted in pain before she finally parted her lips. "I… I… I was bringing some of my mother's sewing to one of the Elder's home when it all changed." She bit her lip as her face scrunched in pain again. "Didyme offered me a piece of pie, but I… but I said that I had to get home." A sorrowful cry bled through her words.

His body tensed as he listened to her story.

She sniffled and wiped at her face hastily. "He… he was waiting for me. On the porch. I thought nothing of his offer to see me home. Until he began to walk right past it. I tried to tell him, to turn around, but he… just grabbed my arm and forced me against something." She began hiccupping in her distress, the memories proving too much. "I cr-cried, begged… him to stop. But he wouldn't… listen. It wasn't until he fi-finished that we heard movement.

"I wanted to tell them what he'd done, I tried so hard, but no words came. He lied," she said, true venom behind those words. "He told them it had been me, that I'd led him astray with my feminine wiles. I tried. I tried so hard to tell somebody what happened, but it all fell on deaf ears. So when the Elders gathered, they agreed that I was to be shunned for one year for breaking the Ordnung. It's been six months."

Edward sat in silence, trying desperately to process Isabella's words. He knew it was all true, there wasn't a doubt in his mind about that. It just seemed so unbelievable. That something so horrific could happen in their community.

He fought to control his temper as he asked, "Who was it?"

Isabella shook her head and turned her attention away from him.

That angered Edward and he moved closer to her. Slowly, cautiously, he lifted a hand to her face and gently took her chin between his fingers and turned her face back to his. The tears threatening to fall made his stomach fall, but he held himself together for her. "What happened to you was wrong and I want to fight for you, Isabella. You deserve nothing less."

She titled her head to the side, her eyes filled with wonder. "Edward." His name sounded like silk on her lips. "Why do you care?"

He feared declaring himself so soon would only frighten her away, the girl reminding him of a skittish fawn. But he wanted, no needed, her to understand how important she'd become to him. That he would do anything for her.

"Because with you," he said, letting out a resolute sigh, "I sense a kindred spirit. Someone who knows the longing I've felt and who has a desire for something, anything. I feel protective of you. Something I've only ever felt for my family."

Her eyes widened, but not in fear, and her lips parted in a gasp.

"I hope that someday you'll allow me the chance to court you."

She ducked her head shyly, but not before Edward caught the flame of red across her cheeks. With her face hidden from him, she whispered the name of her attacker, a name that caused an immediate feeling of dread to course through Edward.

He didn't know exactly where things were left with them as they eventually parted ways, but he could only hope that they were headed in the right direction.

Ooo~Ooo~Ooo

The room was completely silent as Edward waited for a response to what he'd said. The men had gathered in the meeting hall, seeming to be at a loss for words as what they'd been told sank in.

After Isabella's revelation, Edward had gone to his father and brother to seek advice. The underlying tension that had been there since his return melted away and it felt as though he had his family back. They had helped him decide to ask for a council meeting with the Elders, allowing the men of age around town to convene with them.

So, as they stood gathered in the meeting hall, Edward waited for his accusations to be addressed by someone, anyone. His father and brother stood on either side of him, Carlisle with the help of a cane. Even Jasper had decided to stand with them in a show of support.

The man Edward had accused leaned back against the wall near where his father sat, nearly as large as Emmett in size. Though his face remained stoic, Edward could see the rage boiling beneath the surface, his muscles tensing as he held himself back.

"That is quite an assumption you've made, young Mr. Cullen. Tell me, do you have any proof to present?" Elder Marcus asked, sitting at the end of a long table.

With a deep breath, Edward stepped forward. "Sirs, I know that this must come as quite a shock, but I would not bring it forth if I did not feel a grievous injustice had been done." He glanced over toward the man in question, challenging him with their look. "As for proof, I have the clothes that she wore that day. They were ripped and have blood stains. There was a man who came upon them after the attack and has agreed to testify as to what he witnessed."

Voices of outrage filled the room, including the accused man. "This is ridiculous. What need would I have to force myself on a girl? I am set to be married this fall."

Emmett chuckled humorlessly. "That may be true, Felix. But something happened that day and I, for one, would like to find out what that was," he called out to the rest of the room.

Surprisingly, there was murmured agreement.

Marcus waved his hand for them to continue.

Edward lifted the flap of the bag he wore over one shoulder and pulled Isabella's dress out. She'd given it to him the night before, her body a trembling mess. Though the garment was black, the blood stains were visible, and the places up top where it had been ripped were shown to the men. He placed it on the table for the Elders to clearly see.

"Isabella Swan had this hidden in her room and allowed me to bring it here," he said, resignation behind his words.

Without any provocation, Carlisle made his way to the back of the room and opened the door. He stepped back to allow someone in. The tall figure ducked under the door frame and then straightened when he entered the room. He made his way to the front of the room, an air of authority exuding from his presence.

No one said a word as Jacob Black stopped before the Elders. If they thought that Emmett Cullen was a large man, then Jacob was a behemoth.

Finally Eleazar finally spoke up, clearing his throat and leaning forward. "Please, state your name and tell us what you saw that day."

"My name is Jacob Black. I do some work around the Swan home for Charles when he needs it." His voice rumbled throughout the room, clear and steady. "That day I was chopping firewood when I heard crying in the distance. I went to see what it was and found three people. Two men leaving the property and Miss Swan. She huddled against a boulder, trembling, her clothes disheveled."

Marcus spoke next. "If you bore witness to this, why didn't you come forward?"

"I had to take care of my father. He's been ill for quite some time and needed my constant care. The news of Miss Swan's punishment had not reached me until just recently." There were no signs of hesitation or uncertainty in his voice.

"Who were the two men that you saw leaving the Swan land?" Garrett asked.

Jacob took a second before he answered. "I'm not sure who the first one was, I could only see his back. But the other man was Felix Volturi."

Voices erupted all over the room. Some were angry and some were curious.

"I can't say exactly what happened that day," Jacob said over the others. "But I do know that Isabella was distraught and physically upset. She'd been through something."

"Thank you, Jacob Black." Eleazar nodded his head. "We will take into consideration everything that was presented to us today and will reconvene this evening to give our verdict. Please make sure that Miss Isabella Swan is in attendance as well."

Days, it felt as though days had passed before it was time to gather again.

More people piled into the meeting hall that evening than earlier, but Edward hoped that was a good sign. He sat beside Isabella on the first row of benches as a sign of support. His family took the row behind them and hers sat on her left.

Conversations rumbled throughout the room, keeping the silence at bay.

When the Elders finally took their seats at the head of the room, a hush settled over the group. Marcus reluctantly leaned forward to give their verdict. "It was brought to our attention earlier today that our judgment and punishment in regards to Isabella Swan might have been unfounded. The evidence were presented with today has caused us to question just what happened. Therefore, in regards to Isabella Swan, we have decided to revoke our initial ruling."

Eleazar took over for Marcus. "She is to no longer be shunned. As for Mr. Volturi, he is to be placed under house arrest until we can reach a decision as to his punishment. In the meantime," he said, turning his attention to Felix, "you are to have no contact with Miss Swan. If we find out that you have disregarded this, we will give this over to the English."

No one seemed to know how to respond.

The only thing that Edward could pay attention to was the feel of Isabella's hand in his. She'd grabbed a hold of it at their announcement and gave it a squeeze as she cried. The smile through her tears was enough of Edward.

He knew.

Ooo~Ooo~Ooo

Edward stared off into the horizon, the sun casting a brilliant glow as it began to set. From his spot in the meadow, it was the perfect ending to a long day. Off in the distance, footsteps patted toward him. Edward turned to peer over his shoulder and grinned at the person heading toward him.

Her hair loose and framing her face, just as it had the first time he'd seen her upon his return. Her eyes, that had once seemed so sad and broken, lit up when she caught sight of him.

"There you are," she said, her voice a soft trill.

He chuckled. "You know that you aren't supposed to be here, love. It's bad luck."

She laughed, a beautiful sound he never tired of hearing. "That's the day of, dear Edward. And I believe that we can chance it."

Edward tugged on her hand and pulled her to sit down beside him. "Oh really?"

"Yes." She curled into his side, shyly, but with a sense of familiarity. "We've been through enough bad things. I think, from now on, we're only going to have good."

He couldn't contain the joy that he felt. The complete and utter happiness that he'd finally found the piece that he'd been missing, the other half of his heart.

His home.

With his grin firmly in place, Edward leaned forward and pressed his lips against his fiancé's, soft and warm. He held her close and reveled in how right it felt to have her in his arms, how complete.

"I think you're right, my love. I think you're right."


Thank you to kyla713 for betaing as always. You are the best!