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Heaven at Last
Bella has fashioned a life with Jacob, and now, with him and her grandson, returns to the meadow for memories.
I am not Stephenie Meyer, and I do not own the Twilight Saga or any of its characters.
1. Chapter 1
Word Count 2025
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"Come on, Gran! I think I found it!"
I sighed, then slowly walked over to Anthony. He grabbed my hand and started to tow me through the trees.
"Jeez, Gran, can't you move a little faster?"
I laughed, a shaky sound. Anthony was so like his grandfather. They both had the same russet skin, the same long, black hair, and the same tendency to explode – literally – when they lost their tempers.
"You grandma is old," Jacob said from beside me. "You should be patient."
Jacob, who had thankfully stopped bursting into a giant wolf years ago, tenderly took my other hand. "I remember us looking for this place. Spring of '06, wasn't it?"
"Ugh." Anthony wrinkled his nose. "So long ago! It's a wonder you two aren't dead yet."
I smiled fondly at my seventeen-year-old grandson. "I'd say I'm pretty close, Anthony. You know that. Jake's right. I am old."
His face was a comical sight, half amused, half ashamed. "What do you think will happen when you die? Will you go to heaven? What will be there for you?"
I couldn't answer. For it to be heaven, it would need just one thing. Anthony knew about his namesake, of course, but only Jacob knew that I had never moved on – and would never move on.
"Gran," Anthony said softly, trying to fix my sudden silence. "You ready?"
Taking a deep breath, I nodded.
He pointed to the light flowing between the trees. "It's right through there. Don't trip, okay?"
"Thank you Anthony, and I'll try not to. I'll see you in a while."
Before he'd led me into the forest, searching for my magical place, I'd made them both agree to let me go by myself.
Jacob leaned against a tree, putting a hand on his back. "I'm way too old for this. Go on, Bells, yell if you need anything. I love you."
I smiled at him before turning away from them, cautiously picking my way toward the small clearing. It was amazing this place had stood the test of time – almost as if someone had been keeping the trees from ruining its perfect circular shape. It had been sixty-seven years since I'd last been here, but I remembered the first time I'd laid eyes on the meadow as if it were yesterday.
As I broke through the last trees, I couldn't help but gasp at the beauty of the brilliant sunlight illuminating the grass and wildflowers. My eyes had dimmed with old age, but my memories projected the image out of my mind, so that it was almost as if I was seventeen again.
But the meadow couldn't be complete without him. I sank to the ground in the middle of the clearing, easing my aching body down, lying in the cool grass. Closing my eyes, I could feel the wind rustling my hair – long ago turned white – and the sun shining strongly from a halo of Washington clouds.
I could almost feel his fingers lightly stroking my face, his cool, sweet breath on my forehead. The memory of his voice was so strong I could hear it... you are the most important thing to me now... the most important thing to me ever...
I sighed in contentment. I remembered the exact shape of his face, the exact tone of his voice, the exact shade of his lovely golden eyes... I remembered perfectly the way his hands had felt on my face as he listened to my heart.
My heart beat faster as I thought about it. My memories of Edward and the times we were together were the few things I hadn't lost to time. They were imprinted in my skull, and there was no way I could have let them go.
I rarely let myself think of him. It did no good to dwell on the past, to obsess over dreams that couldn't possibly come true, that would only hurt Jacob. However, I couldn't stop myself from relating almost everything to him. For example, hinting to my daughter – who I'd name, ironically, Rose – that I loved the name Anthony. It was Edward's middle name. So she tried to make me happy by naming her son that, not knowing that every time I looked at him, I was immersed in memories.
Now, as I rested in the meadow that held so much for me, I tried to relive it. I would give myself these few hours to just be with him again. I promise... I swear not to hurt you...
But he had hurt me. He'd nearly killed me. I'd never even had the chance to tell Alice goodbye. And when he never came back, the only person I could turn to was Jacob.
A tear fell down my cheek and into the grass. I would give anything to see him again. I still loved him, with all my heart. The love I felt for Jacob, my husband, was only a weak shadow of what I had once been capable of.
My breathing slowed, and my closed lids grew heavy, and I wondered why I would fall asleep now. I didn't want to fall asleep, not when I had all these lovely recollections to watch. I snapped my eyes open and fought against the overwhelming exhaustion. Please, I begged. Just let me remember him again before I sleep.
My tired eyes fell shut again, unable to resist any longer, but I could still see the meadow through my eyelids. How odd. And I was standing up, on the edge of the forest. I felt young and fresh, like I could run for however long I wanted to. Unless I tripped, of course. I looked down at my hands, and was surprised to see no wrinkles or blemishes, just a shimmery, crescent-shaped scar. I examined the rest of myself and realized that I had my seventeen-year-old body again.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brilliant glow. I whirled around, my heart accelerating, because I knew who approached me now.
His lips were curled up into that perfect, crooked smile, his eyes a disconcertingly exquisite golden color, the sunlight shattering off his pale skin. He was more beautiful than I'd remembered; my memories had not done him justice.
He walked toward me, still smiling as if I were his favorite person in the world, like it was his dream come true to see me. His cold, marble arms wrapped around my waist, and it seemed perfectly natural for me to twine my arms around his neck and lay my head on his shoulder.
I was sure Jacob and Anthony were waiting for me, and I had the decency to feel guilty for letting Edward – even if he was a figment of my imagination, a delusion come back to haunt me – hold me. His cool fingers stroked my hair, then, and I forgot about everything else.
"Bella," he whispered, and his voice, too, I'd gotten wrong. It was softer than velvet, flowing through the air like a subtle breeze.
I stared into his eyes, and I was utterly, blissfully happy, in a way I hadn't been in years.
I didn't understand what was happening, why I'd be dreaming about me, back as a seventeen-year-old, and him, even more beautiful than in my usual dreams. I didn't understand, but I would take it.
"Will you come with me?" he asked me, tracing the line of my jaw, then down my collarbone. My heart raced.
"Where?" I breathed. What about Jacob? Anthony? My family?
"Wherever you want to go," he murmured, bending to run his lips over my cheek.
Wasn't this what I wanted? Hadn't I always told Jake that if Edward came back, and if he still wanted me, I would go with Edward?
Still lost in his intent gaze, I slowly nodded.
His smiled widened. "Then let's go," he said, excitement flaring in his eyes.
"Wait," I muttered, turning away from him for a second. I wanted to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.
My eyes fell on a still, white form lying in the grass. Recognition hit me, and I stumbled forward to look more closely at the body.
It was me. It was unmistakably me. The wispy white hair, the full lips, the faintly shining scar on my wrist – it couldn't have not been me. I cried out on horror. What kind of a dream was this? How could I be seeing myself lying there, my chest not rising or falling, through my former, teenaged eyes?
Edward's steel arms held me back before I could go any closer to my dead body. I looked at him frantically.
"What's wrong, Bella?"
I gaped at him. "What's wrong? What the hell do you mean by that? I'm dead over there!"
He smiled patiently. "Yes, Bella, you are," he agreed, sounding as if he were trying to explain something to a toddler. "Your body can no longer provide residence for your soul, so you are now your soul."
I struggled to understand. "But if I'm a... a soul, if I'm dead, then what are you doing here? You're not dead, too, are you?"
"I am whatever you want me to be."
I understood then. This was my form of heaven. The real Edward was still chasing after his distractions, very much in existence. This Edward was what heaven had conjured up for me. Hadn't I always said that my only heaven would involve Edward?
I smiled slowly, then gasped in anguish. "What about Jacob?"
Edward frowned. "If he truly loves you, he will let you go. If you'd like, you can tell him you are happy... if you are happy."
He suddenly looked anxious, as if there was any way I couldn't be happy with him.
So I reached up to hug him, erasing all his doubts. "I'd like that. And I am happy. I'm with you."
I heard the smile in his voice. "Then let's go."
He led me out of the clearing, walking at my pace, until we reached the place where I'd left Jacob and Anthony.
" – need to chill," Jacob was saying to Anthony. "Jeez, Anthony. I said it before. Be patient."
Edward looked at me with an unfathomable expression. "Your grandson is named after me?"
I nodded. "I never could let you go."
He pulled me against his stone chest, one arm wrapped tight around me.
I was abruptly overwhelmed with sadness. What would Jacob do without me? From the end of the world and onward, he'd been the one keeping me safe. He'd been the one putting all the effort into our relationship. Would he believe me when I told him I was happy now?
"What do I do?" I whispered.
"Go talk to him. You'll find that people listen best when they don't know what they're listening to."
He gently pushed me in my husband's direction. I flitted to his side, marveling again at how able my teenage body was.
I stood right next to Jacob; he didn't see me – couldn't see me. But he could feel something. He shivered and looked around himself, as if expecting to see a ghost. I supposed that was exactly what I was: a ghost.
"Jacob," I breathed, and he shivered again. I didn't know what to say. I especially didn't want to say anything that would hurt Edward, who I knew could hear me.
"Thank you," I murmured simply. "Thank you for saving me from myself. I'm happy now. I'm where I was meant to be."
Jacob went very still, as if he had sensed something he shouldn't have. Suddenly his head snapped up, and he started to run for the clearing. "Bella?" he called, an agonized suspicion in his voice. Anthony chased after him.
I turned away, not wanting to know their reactions when they found my lying in the grass. Edward held out his hand, and I gratefully took it. Two piercing howls echoed from the meadow, but neither of us turned. He gently led me in the opposite direction, away from our meadow, and together we faded into the trees and the coming twilight.