Rating: M for sexual content
Genre: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters/Pairings: Edward/Bella, other canon pairings, the Pack (minus Jacob)
Short summary: The repercussions of Bella's attempted transformation profoundly alter the course of Edward's life, while the arrival of the Volturi force the remaining Cullens into a decision they never expected to make-- to remain vampires or become human. Breaking Dawn AU.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer created them. I'm just writing my version of their story.
"Uncle Edward!" screeches the blur, as it comes barreling towards me, pink and ruffled stockinged feet sliding on the wood floor. The beauty leaps into my arms, clutching fierce hands to my neck in a death grip reminiscent of her father.
"Happy Birthday, Madison," I laugh into her blond curls before she sees Bella, and she squirms anxiously to be released. Torturing willing family members is a full-time job when one is four years old and afraid of nothing. Bella coos compliments about Madison's princess dress, and the little thing soaks them up like a sponge, gazing at Bella, utterly transfixed. Our niece, nephew and little brother like me, but they adore Bella. When they're with her, they are the most important people in the world.
Madison lets Bella hold her attention a few more moments, and then she has things to do. She hurries off to announce our arrival to the rest of the family.
I use the moment alone to pull Bella into my side, unable to resist the pull of her mouth, the taste of her. She kisses me back, very willingly, and we are lost in one another until I feel her smile against my lips, and I pull back to look at her.
"You're insatiable," she laughs, her eyes growing wide. "Not that I'm complaining, but it is a little risque, making out like teenagers with children present."
I pull her closer, feel the slight thickening of her stomach against mine. I resist snaking my hands under her shirt to roam across her belly. "They're not technically present. I'm sure everyone is out back."
Her breathy laugh is lovely as she brings her lips back to mine, kissing me fully, her mouth open and wonderful. My mind wanders to the warm, tangled sheets we left back home.
An exasperated sound that could only come from one person.
Bella pulls away sheepishly, fingertips pressed to her slightly swollen lips, her cheeks red.
"You'd think getting pregnant would make you two a little more, you know, presentable," Alice teases, her eyes bright and mischievous. "You're going to have to be role models. No making out and grossing out Edward junior."
"Alice..." Bella rolls her eyes, simultaneously jabbing her sister-in-law in the stomach with a finger.
"Bella..." Alice says mockingly, dramatically rolling her eyes before pulling Bella into a hug. The two women laugh as they begin walking into the house towards the backyard, arms around each other.
I remain in the entry way, listening to the tinkling of their laughter drift outside.
It was never easy, not for any of us. Everything changed in an instant, but we have traded easy for something real. We have built an existence grounded in life, not death. In change, not stasis. In future, not a constant present. And I would make that trade a million times over. We all would.
In the beginning, after our lives could finally return to some semblance of normal after Aro's death, I would wake up panicked, reeling from a nightmare I could never remember. I only know they left me terrified, and I would wake reaching for Bella, sometimes yelling for her. Bella would always soothe me after these dreams, curling her body against mine, sometimes making love to her trembling, grief-stricken husband if only to distract him.
It didn't take long for Bella to figure out what the nightmares meant.
"You're afraid we're running out of time," she had whispered into my ear one night after a particularly bad episode. I remember the breeze from the open window chilling my sweat-drenched body, making me shiver. I remember trying to clear the lump from my throat, embarrassed by the tears that were suddenly running down my temples at her revelation, soaking my hair. She kissed me then, her own cheeks wet and shimmering in the moonlight, telling me with a burning conviction that nothing could take her away from me, that we would never be apart, even after the inevitable.
I wanted to believe her. I wanted to believe anything that would keep her close to me for a while longer.
Strange that I had once begged her to remain human, completely aware I would be giving up an eternity with her if that was her choice. I did not expect the sudden loss of that forever to leave me terrified.
But our lives evolved; they grew into something infinitely better than forever, full of mundane things like going to work, writing music, curling up on the couch for a movie, her feet tangling with mine, inviting the neighbors over to eat Bella's delicious cooking, making friends, taking walks with her any time we wanted, wherever we wanted. And the nightmares vanished just as quickly as they had come.
This is our forever. It will last as long as it lasts, and afterwards, I will do everything in my power to never leave her.
The sounds of my family finally draw me out to Rosalie and Emmett's back porch. Reluctant as Madison is to share her birthday with her youngest uncle Lucas, Esme and Carlisle's six-year-old son, it does mean double the celebration, and so she tolerates it. Lucas is generous with his youngest niece, which is evident in the party's decorations--pink streamers and balloons tied to every railing, now glowing orange in the setting sun, bobbing in the late-summer breeze coming off the stretch of Pacific Ocean just beyond the porch. Twinkling lights wrap around the edge of the deck, making the approaching night feel magical. Perhaps it is.
"Hey there, bro." Emmett shakes my hand, pulls me into a one-armed hug.
"Hey," I respond warmly, "Good to see you."
"You, too," he says, his grin wide and honest. "Bella looks radiant. She's practically glowing."
I smile at him, very aware that my wife has never been more beautiful. "She's incredible."
"Any weird cravings yet? Rose's favorite was sauerkraut and pineapple. It can be surprisingly difficult to track down good sauerkraut at the three in the morning, let me tell you."
"No, not yet," I laugh, "although I'm looking forward to it."
"Yeah, I bet you are," he says smiling. "You kids are so happy."
My gaze drifts down to the beach, where I can just see the children running away from the waves, the forms of Alice, Esme, Rosalie and my Bella laughing with them, their feet bare in the sand.
"We all are."
Alice's phone call comes just as I'm finishing with my last student of the day. I know what she will say as soon as the shrill ringing fills our practice room.
She will tell me Bella is in labor.
The birth is fast. Bella lets a few curses about vampires past her filter, but none of the medical staff, besides Carlisle at my side, take notice of the strange words of a woman in labor. I am mesmerized by her--the effort, the strain, the strength. As our daughter's cry fills the room, I hold my my wife's exhausted, joyous face in my shaking hands. I cannot look anywhere but her. She is my lifeline in this strange new adventure of being a father, and I am suddenly struck with terror of the complete unknown.
How can a 128 year old man be a good father? I think. What if we lose her? What if I hurt her? What if she hates me? I'm too stuffy and overprotective and stuck in my ways. How will I ever change enough to be good for her? What if life cannot be born from death?
"Edward." Carlisle's soft voice pulls me from my own head, as he holds a small, squirming, crying bundle out to me. "Don't be afraid."
I make sure Bella is settled comfortably against the pillows before turning to my father, taking my daughter into my arms for the first time.
She is as light as feathers and warm. She begins to settle as I hold her, and I watch as her beautiful scrunched red face calms and becomes peaceful. Bella reaches up a hand to touch her and I lower our daughter into the crook of Bella's arms. Bella's face lights up and shimmers as I watch her cradle her daughter. She was willing to give up being a mother to be with me, but in this moment, I am so thankful she did not have to.
I want to crawl into bed with them, wrap my body around them, hold them for hours, but there is a hospital room full of people and beeping monitors watching over this intimate moment. Instead, I stay perched on the side of the bed, my arms as close around the two of them as I can manage. We don't speak as we watch our daughter. I am filled with love that no words can capture, and I see the same awe in Bella's eyes.
"Edward, she's incredible," Bella finally whispers, as our daughter shifts a little and cuddles deeper into Bella's chest.
I nod and swallow the lump in my throat. "Of course she is. She's from you."
My beautiful wife smiles up at me. "She's from us."