AU. In 1942, Edward and Bella, both human, were already happily married, with a young daughter. Then she got the telegram everyone dreaded, the one from the National War Office. But who is Dr. Cullen, and is Edward really as dead she thought he was?
1. The Letter
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Dear Mrs. Masen,
This is no official Army letter, and I’m sure you already have the telegram from the war office. Consider this a letter between friends, with information I thought your husband would want you to know.
Bella (I hope it’s all right if I call you Bella. Your husband said that was what you preferred to called), I got to know Edward very well during his stay at the camp, or at least better than I did the others. He had a certain maturity, a quiet sadness that the other soldiers didn’t. The first time he was in the hospital for a minor injury, I had a chance to talk to him. He told me a little about you, about Maggie. I admit, I was surprised. He seemed more anxious about the two of you than himself, despite how much less danger you were in. It was clear how much love he had for both of you. I’m sorry if any of this is hard for you to hear, but I thought you would want to know everything.
It was unusual that that a man (or perhaps boy, really) of his age to have a wife and baby daughter, and confirmed what I had thought about his being different from the others. I dismissed him from the hospital a short while later, with a cast on his arm and no other serious injury. I saw him around the camp a few times more and we exchanged words, but I didn’t see him again until the end.
Foolish as it is to do so during a war, with death all around you, I’d grown an attachment to Edward, more so than the other soldiers, perhaps because of the devotion I saw that he had for you and your daughter Maggie. I sincerely wanted him to be able to go home to you and Maggie when the war ended.
Then he was admitted to the hospital again, a bomb had gone off next to him. He was severely injured, bleeding badly. It was clear he would not survive. He was unconscious, his face badly bruised. I can least tell you he went through no serious pain, and I hope it’s some condolence. He awoke just once and his words were all of you and Maggie. He made me promise to write to you, and I’m fulfilling that promise now and told me to tell you to try to move on, not to dwell over him. He was vehement about this. He also said to say that he loved you both more than anything. He passed out a moment later and died early in the morning. I can say I’m immensely sorry. I know he loved you very much, and I will never forget either of you.
With my sympathies,
Doctor Carlisle Cullen
I read over the letter again. I felt bad about lying to the woman, causing her undue agony, even though most of what I said was true, with the exception of the painlessness. I’d shown him the letter and he’d responded with a nod. I wished there was a way he could return to her, but he was far too young. He loved them both too much to take that risk. He locked himself away most of the time, his still burning red eyes mournful. He was taking it hard, but I couldn’t blame him. I folded the letter, sealed it, and sent it on it’s destination.