Here it is. The time is nigh. The final chapter. Bella's gone through so much to get here. All she wants is to be happy again, like she was when she was with Edward. But for some reason, the whole goddamn world is against her. Her heart is rebroken at every turn, and any hope she ever manages to obtain just makes the pain that much worse. But she just can't take it anymore. For better, or for worse, things will end here:

A Capella Luctuoso

A Capella Luctuoso

My heart has stopped beating. I'm frozen. My blood, my brain, my emotions. Nothing can move, and yet I'm still trembling. Not cold, though.

I don't understand. I don't understand this at all. Everything was so clear… just one more snowdrift… together again… Water trickles down my cheeks, but it's snowing, not raining. Snowing, always, sleet and hail.

It doesn't make any sense. Just one more snowdrift. Happy reunions.

No. An empty home. No lived-in feel, but still lived-in. A room with a stereo, still turned on, and empty shelves for thousands of CDs. Edward. Three larger rooms. A sewing box and book shelves. Esme and Carlisle. A vanity and a dozen punching bags. Rosalie and Emmet. A walk-in closet larger that the room, empty. Alice, and Jasper.

They were here. So close. Closer than I've been for months. But all gone and an empty garage. So fast. But vampire speed or not, they couldn't have left that fast. They may have gotten some advance warning of my arrival. They were downwind of me. One fateful smell and they could all recognize me. But to have collected all of their things and left in a car. No. Even if they would have saved time by leaving their belongings, I still would have seen them. There's only one road here.

They must have known. Even before I arrived in Julianehab, they must have been packing. The clerk said Carlisle quit this morening. I scrambled for my watch: 1:48 pm. So close. I was so close. If the stupid plane had gone just a little faster, I could have met them, spied them in Julianehab's tiny airport! Missed by hours, minutes, seconds. So close. One more snowdrift.

And Edward, he must have carved that message, so dainty and perfect, it must have been with a finger nail. Don't follow me.

I can't. I can't NOT follow you! You were everything. You ARE everything to me! You're the only reason I exist, because I made you happy. Now that you hate me… What am I supposed to do now!?

It's still not raining.

Suddenly I was in Paris, sitting in a barely cushioned chair, waiting on a connecting flight to New York City. Hazy memories showed me stumbling, half-dead from cold, heart not beating, back into Julianehab. A short flight to Reykjavik, then another to France. First class all the way.

I probably would have passed through the City of Lights in the same daze except for one thing. A young girl sitting with a group of children in across the waiting area caught my eye. They must have been in some kind of program or tour, because they were all wearing nametags. For some unknown reason, I decided to look at this girl, to get a close up of her nametag.

My breath hitched, I slammed my eyes shut. Erasing from my memory what I'd just read: "Bonjour. Je m'appelle May Cullen." Forget. Forget. Forget. And it was gone. I was calm. My heart still wasn't beating. Nothing matters. I don't even remember what's-her-name.

My heart, metaphorical heart, was still. I can't feel anything. No sadness, nothing. All of the terrible emotions pressing against my body, trying to force their way in, I was keeping them out. I think my mouth twitched up in a smile. It's hard to tell, since my face felt numb. My whole body was numb. I can't feel anything, and I love it.

My flight is called. I'm in no hurry to board. The overweight woman in front of me was twirling an unlit cigarette in her mouth, tapping on her suitcase. The average-everything guy trying to cut me in line was making some annoying sound with his tongue, like calling a horse. Some of the children from what's-her-name's group are running circles around a frantic chaperone.

No pulse. No thought. No pain.

Now I'm in Seattle. I've nearly used up all of my cash, but I had just enough to get a rental car at the little place at the airport's entrance. It wasn't pretty, a blue Cadillac with most of the paint chipping. But its not like I was used to pretty cars. A buzzing in the back of my brain remembered my truck. On the way out, I checked where I'd parked it. It was gone, probably towed. Oh well. I'll go get it with Charlie tomorrow.

Everything was so beautiful. I never really stopped to appreciate all the natural beauty Washington had. I had always been so busy. Bust hating Forks, busy loving… busy crying over…

Name, name. It's beating against my mind, it wants me to let it in. No. No pulse, no thought, no pain. And there was no pain.

Now that I'm driving down the highway toward Forks, with absolutely nothing on my mind, I can really notice how beautiful everything is. I'm not blinded by love or hurt anymore. No pulse, no thought, no pain. Am I smiling? It's hard to tell. I checked in the rear view mirror, yes, I am. My face feels numb, but it's okay. Better to be numb that in pain. That seems like a good moral. Or at least, I hope so. It's how I'm going to be living my life from now on.

But I'm not happy. Why am I smiling when I'm not happy? Names want to get in my head, want to make me cry. But I won't let them. I won't let names or memories or… regret. I won't let anything hurt me again. Thirty-five miles from Forks. From my NEW, new life. A life without love, or happiness. It sounds pathetic. But It's also a life without that terrible feeling, like drowning in ink. Gasping for breath when you're already under. No more knives buried in my heart. Nothing matters to me now. Nothing can hurt me now. But then, it's not like anything could ever hurt me as much as when Edward left.

My hands were trembling on the steering wheel. Stupid. When did I let my guard down? One casual, offhanded thought had so easily shattered my defenses. My hands were getting clammy. Ba-dump. My breath got heavy, I was shaking, my whole body. Ba-dump. Edward, my Edward, my life. Just thinking of him was like a defibrillator to my chest. My figurative heart was beating again, dammit, pumping all the unwanted metaphorical blood through my whole body. I could feel again. The numbness was gone. All the hurt, the betrayal, the hopelessness, I could feel it all, and it was all surging through me, fighting to be considered the dominant emotion.

"Ah!" I whimpered, I was hyperventilating, and I was shaking so hard, I was afraid I'd lose my grip on the wheel. I tried to put the break on, but I was so unstable, I ended up slamming my foot down on it. I jolted forward and slowly guided the Cadillac to the shoulder, tears already slipping from my eyes.

"It's okay. Calm down." I told myself through sniffles. "Forget about it. Forget about Edward and-" That threw me over the edge. I broke off in midsentence with a wail. "No!" I covered my eyes, but the tears slipped out under my hands. Sad, horrible sounds were all around me, they were coming from my own mouth.

I was sobbing full force. Somehow I tucked my knees under my chin and started rocking back and forth. My breaths were short and rapid, at least until I started coughing. Then I hand to take big long breath just to keep from suffocating.

My weeping was the only thing I could hear, and it just made me feel worse. It was like having a bee sting, but I'm still locked in a room filled with bees. It hurt. Being so surrounded by my own despair made me want to choke. It had to go away. I reached out and hit the horn. It blared and I kept hitting it until my hand was sore and numb. Then I fumbled with the car's radio, trying to guide my fingers with tear-blinded eyes. But, wouldn't you know, the damn thing was busted. I screamed, in anger and in misery. Edward was never coming back to me! He hates me! He went to Greenland to get away from me, and when I stalked him there, he escaped and told me to leave him alone!

I want to die. Edward is the only reason I exist, the only reason I'm alive. God made me for him, to make him happy when nothing else would. And I failed. I made him sad. I shouldn't be allowed to stay alive after that terrible sin. My one and only love and life is gone. Why should I be here anymore?

Still, still. All I can hear is my own mournful cries. There was nothing else, no dull roar of cars passing by, where was all the damn traffic? Where's a thunderstorm when you need one? I need something, anything to make the sound go away, to make my feelings go away.

I don't want to die. I'm not going to. Edward didn't want me to die. It's terrible, that's my only reason.

I made it home eventually. Once I'd clamed down, I carefully worked my way back onto the highway and made it back to Forks. Charlie wasn't home when I arrived, thankfully. I still felt sick and miserable. An imaginary memory kept replaying itself in my head. Edward, glaring at me in disgust. He whirls around and leaves me. "Don't follow me." I can't run fast enough. Even though he's only walking, and at a human speed, I'm falling behind. He's so far away, I can't see him anymore.

I haven't showered or brushed my teeth r eaten a decent meal in the two weeks since I'd left. I took a human moment that lasted two hours before I just sat down on the couch and waited. Around six, I heard Charlie pull into the driveway and braced myself.

Ten minutes later, he'd finally stopped hugging me and demanded an explanation while he dialed Renee. I sighed and tried to tell him it was nothing important, but I never even tried to think that it would satisfy him. And once he had Mom on speakerphone it was like an interrogation. I gave them some carefully spun crap story about checking out colleges abroad. I told them that I thought they wouldn't have agreed to me going to university out of the country, so I took matters into my own hands.

Renee nearly strangled me through the phone, but after a while, they both calmed down and assured me that going to college in Europe was fine with them. I got another speech about responsibility, and then a play-by-play of how worried they were before I was allowed to go to my room.

Ba-dump. A dull sting washed through my body, but I shrugged it off. I lifted up my mattress and took out the scrapbook. I opened it, memorizing every curve and feature. I raced his smiles with my finger. Hollow and empty, they weren't happy smiles. They weren't the smiles he used to give me, the ones I love. After I'd examined and removed all seven pictures, I carefully stacked them on top of one another. A wave of nostalgia swept through me, and I hugged the pictures to my chest. The crinkled, but his face was still intact.

I smiled back at him, one sad smile at another. Then I took the stack between my thumb and forefingers, and ripped them all in half. Then I ripped the halves in half. Then I threw the shredded remains out the window.

"Goodbye, Edward." I whispered. He came in through my window so many times, and now he goes out for the last. I can't take this anymore. I give up. Edward doesn't want me anymore, and I only want to make him happy. So I'll leave him alone, until I die. One stupid tear escaped my eye, and I wiped it away. Then I shut my window, and locked it.

It's been six weeks since I returned from Greenland. My life is still nowhere near normal, but I think it's getting closer everyday. I'm not totally cut off from my classmates, but I'm still being ostracized. But as weeks and days passed, people have started to accept me again. I still eat lunch alone, but some people are civil enough to say "Good morning," at least. I had a minute long conversation with a boy I'd dumped; I couldn't remember his name so I just avoided saying it. All we talked about was studying for a big test in Pre-Calculus, but it was pretty much the first human contact I'd had since Emile.

That was kind of exciting, but the best thing was, when Jessica 'accidently' pushed me down in the hallway, Angela stopped to help me pick up my books. She didn't talk, but just that act gave me hope. I found out that she'd taken Ben back after he'd apologized to her nonstop for three days. That made me feel a little better.

I worked up the courage one day to stop her after school and talk. She was reluctant, but I managed to convince her. I explained everything, at least as much as I could. I told her how I felt after Edward left (I can say his name now. It doesn't affect me anymore.) and how I waited as long as I could before I took Ben away from her. She was quiet the whole time. When I finally ran out of excuses for my actions, I just bowed my head and said, "I'm so sorry. You don't have to forgive me, but I want you to know that I felt terrible for doing it. Sorry."

I left after that, shame flooding through me. All the guilt was still there, but at least I'd tried to make up for it, even if she hates me. I almost cried the next day when she said, "Hi, Bella." She avoided eye contact, but she was smiling.

"Hi." I managed out huskily, surprised. I hope that maybe she might forgive me, but I didn't expect it, especially not this soon.

She sat down next to me in front of the school as we waited for the bell to ring. "I'm still mad at you." She said, and I deflated quickly. Only, then she said, "But… I kind of understand. When you and Ben got together," she paused and took a breath, "I felt really bad. I guess not as bad as you must have felt, but still bad." Another pause. I didn't push her, I know how hard it can be to talk about this kind of stuff. She brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear before she continued. "So I forgive you. But I'm still mad."

"I get it." I stammered with relief. "You don't need to explain… Thank you." She looked up, and finally let me see her eyes. The she smiled again.

"You know, it'll help me forgive you if we get an A on the Physics project. Can you be my partner?"

I looked at her, startled But then I smiled and nodded. "Sure. KE = mgh."

She laughed. "That's potential energy, not kinetic. Maybe I should go over to your house tonight. I'll bring my book."

"Sounds good." Ding, ding, ding.

"Oh, that's the warning bell. I gotta go to my locker, but I'll see you in class. Later!" I stood up and waved goodbye. Just as I was going to head to class, my back prickled. It felt like someone picked up a hedgehog and just barely rubbed the back across my neck. I touched the spot and turned around. No one there. I frowned, but it was probably just a side effect of this wool sweater I'm wearing. I shrugged it off and went to class.

I was walking to my car after school. Prickle. I rubbed my neck hard until the skin heated up. It wasn't raining, so I took off the sweater and got in my truck.

Angela and I were working on a project to explain the concept of 'hang time' and to prove or disprove it. Charlie came home a nearly grabbed his shotgun, seeing someone other than me in the house. He stared for a minute before saying hi. He already knew Angela, and he gave her a good welcome. It was embarrassing, how over the top he went. But it must have made him so happy, I was normal again. Angela laughed it off; she said all parents were like that.

I just rested my forehead against my hand and sighed. Charlie offered to cook, but I said I'd handle it. I made her some fried chicken while we memorized our lines. She ate dinner with us and left around nine o'clock. I helped her carry the poster we'd made out to her car and then waved goodbye as she drove away. I think we're friends again. Why, I have no idea. But thank God.

I turned around and headed back in, but I felt that prickle again. I was wearing a tank top; nothing was even near the spot on my neck. I touched it, then whirled around. Nothing. Creepy, I turned and dashed back to the door, shutting and locking it behind me. I peeked out the window for a second, but there was still nothing there.

I swear, it felt like someone was watching me. Immediately, a hundred scenarios ran through my head. Maybe a guy I dumped was obsessed with me, or maybe a girl I'd pissed off wanted to kill me. Or vice versa. I looked out the window one last time, then put a bottle of mace in my purse.

I've been getting that prickle a lot recently. It's really scary. I try to ignore it, but then I just keep imagining a guy coming up behind me with a hatchet and I have to look. Every single time, there's nothing unusual.

Maybe I'm getting paranoid. I hope that's all it is.

Angela and I got an A- on our project. I ate lunch with her and Ben. It was kind of awkward, but she was really encouraging, so I tried to talk to him. It wasn't much of a conversation, but I found out that he's going to see a new kung fu movie this weekend. I guess it kind of seems like I have a life.

Everyone else will barely look at me, and I may as well be the antichrist whenever Lauren or Jessica are present. But I think I'm slowly building myself a little niche in what my life used to be. I had friends (well only one and her boyfriend, but still…), I was working at the Newton's store again, I probably seem like a normal teenage girl.

But… I AM a normal teenage girl. And now, I'm going to stay what way. Normality has NEVER looked so appealing. Normal, because things like vampires don't exist in my life anymore.

My poor truck! I'd gotten it back with some of Charlie's schmoozing, but those stupid towers must have done something! When I tried to pull out of the school parking lot, on a Friday no less, I heard a loud pop. I was trying to keep from freaking out, but when I lifted the hood, there was so much smoke; I couldn't even tell what was wrong.

Nothing like this had ever happened before it got towed. If they did something, I'm gonna sue all their asses. Almost everyone was gone from the parking lot, and the people who were left definitely wouldn't help me out. I kicked one of the tires before accepting my only choice. I locked the doors and prepared to walk home.

Before I left school grounds, I double checked to make sure I still had my mace. The paranoid fear in my mind was showing me an image of some guy in a hockey mask screwing with my engine, then stalking me into a dark alley. Satisfied, I started walking home. It wasn't a really long walk, but I'd much rather have driven. That feeling quintupled about a quarter of the way there.


I shuddered, but managed to keep walking. It was nothing, just my imagination. I really wish I believed me. It was subtle, but my breathing got heavier and I got goosebumps. The invisible fear gripped my stomach and tied it in a few knots as I hugged my purse to my chest, carefully opening it, so not to draw any attention.

I reached inside and found the compact Angela lent me a few days ago. I practically sighed with relief; thank God I keep forgetting to return it. I came up to a crosswalk; I spotted a glowing red hand across the lane as cars rolled by. I took a deep breath and opened the compact, then positioned it so I could see over my shoulder.

Then I dropped the compact.

It clattered off the sidewalk and into the street before being neatly flattened by a Mustang. I didn't care, I'd buy Angela a new one. I closed my eyes, visibly shaking now. My breath wasn't just heavy, it was sporadic, coming out in sharp gasps as my eyes watered. An invisible knife sank its blade deep into my heart, skewering it like a shish kabob.

Standing there, right behind me, was Edward Cullen.

I wrapped my arms around me, but it didn't help. I opened my mouth and bit down on my fist. A few tears spilled over the edge. He wasn't a hallucination, he wasn't a dream. He's there. I know he is, I can feel it in my heart and in the pit of my stomach. I released my fist, but I couldn't steady my voice. After a few tries, I just whispered. I knew he'd hear me anyway. "Why?"

He didn't answer, but I could feel him behind me. Prickle.

The crosswalk was clear, but I didn't move. "Why are you here?" I managed out. "I don't understand."

"Bella…" My whole world shattered. His voice, speaking my name like it was some sacred prayer. So tender, so lucid, spoken just above a whisper, my heart nearly punched itself out of my chest.

"You left me."

"I know." My knees trembled; this must be what it feels like when you're high. It was just like I remember it. So clear and lovely, like a cello, it reverberated deep inside me.

"You told me not to follow."

"I'm sorry."

"You're-" I spun around. He was there, his face perfect stone, unreadable. "You're sorry?"

He took a step forward, I couldn't move. His eyes chained me to the ground. Beautiful gold. "Yes. I didn't want to hurt you."

I took a breath. He was exactly the same; he still hadn't changed at all. Not a hair out of place. My heart was beating so fast, I know he could hear it. "How did you know?" I asked bluntly, keeping my arms around me, afraid that if I let go, I'm melt and drip into the storm drain. "How did you know I was coming?" I'd pondered the question myself a lot. The only reasonable explanation I'd come up with was that Tanya had call them and warned them. That had to be the answer. I was longing to pay her a visit and maybe burn her freaking house down, but I didn't want to do anything rash to the bitch that plucked Edward out of my grasp without hard proof.

"Alice saw you coming. We needed to hurry and-"

"Alice was still Seeing me?" I cut in. I can't feel my body anymore. Alice sees people when they make decisions. I decided to change my life by dating other guys, I decided to go after Arnold, decided to go after Emile. Alice Saw all of that? She Saw me doing all those horrible things? I felt sick. Then I remembered. Edward can read Alice's mind. He knows. He's seen all those things. He knows everything.

I flinched, my whole body was shaking, it was like I was having a seizure. Edwards knows all the disgusting things I've done. He saw how I used all those boys, saw me destroy Arnold, and he… He saw what Emile did to me.

I want to throw up. I've never wanted anything more. Tears are coming down full force. I blinked them away to look at Edward's beautiful face, filled with concern for me. Lies! I was hyperventilating and I flinched again. Edward hates me! He hates everything about me! Is he here to kill me? No, just to laugh at me, at my life. I bet he's happy that he left. Now he isn't associated with me, this monster!


I turned around and ran, right in front of a Ford Focus. It slammed on the brakes just in time; I grabbed the hood to keep the slight impact for knocking me over, then kept running.

"Bella!" Edward yelled, and the Focus's driver honked the horn. I didn't see why, I just kept running. I knew that Edward could catch me easily, but I couldn't stop, I had to get away. "Bella, what's wrong? Are you okay?" The worry in his voice made me sick. I don't deserve it, I don't deserve anything!

I wheeled left into an alley and ran into the wall, falling to my knees as the wind got knocked out of me. Edward was by my side in a second and put a supportive arm around my shoulder. "No!" I screamed and flung myself away from him, scrambling on the ground as tears continued to blind me.

"Bella, Bella!" Edward grabbed me and stood me up, touching my hair. "What's wrong?"

"Sorry, sorry, sorry…" I cried, burying my face in my hands. "I'm so sorry."

"For what?" He gently removed my hands and wiped away my tears, his finger carefully tracing the bottom of my eye. "Why are YOU apologizing? I'm the one who's sorry."

I didn't listen to him, just shook my head. "I didn't mean to. I missed you so much, I was so miserable. I couldn't stop. I'm sorry, it's my fault!" I couldn't face him, I just wanted to throw up until I died. "Why did you come back now? I'd finally given up hope. But now I won't ever be able to go back… Why?"

"Bella…" He tilted my head backwards and leaned in. Our lips touched. I was so emotional, and it's been so long. The kiss was overpowering, it ripped through my senses and filled me with warmth. Then I passed out.

When I woke up, I was in my bed. Only, something was different. I was totally under the covers, wearing a jacket and sweat pants, but I was still cold. Edward was holding me against his chest, his arms loosely circled around me, but the grip was so firm I couldn't move an inch.

I looked up to find him looking down at me. It was so familiar, the scene resonated within me and I prayed that everything had just been a terrible dream. He leaned down and kissed my forehead, stealing away my breath and any coherent thought I might have once had.

"Bella." His voice helped to clear my head, and I reached up to wipe my eyes, but he beat me to it. He smiled and said my name again. "How I've missed you." Our lips touched once more, but I managed to stay conscious this time. "Why are you so ashamed of yourself? Why are you sorry?"

I looked at him, but he wasn't joking. Or, I don't think he was. He's had a century to perfect his acting skills. But maybe he really didn't know. "I'll trade." I whispered. I didn't want to tell him, but he'll find out anyway. As soon as he gets close enough to anyone from school, he'll be able to find out all about me. I'd rather he heard it from me, but I wanted something in return. "I'll tell you. Everything. But you have to tell me why you came back." He nodded, his expression some perfect mixture of innocence and seriousness.

And so I told him everything.

And then the room was silent.

"Bella." He spoke first. I closed my eyes and waited for what I knew was coming. "It's not your fault." My eyes shot open and I gave him an incredulous stare.

"What do you mean? Everything's my fault! I did all hat stuff, just because I missed you! I did those things with someone other than you, with lots of people other than you! Again and again!"

"But you wouldn't have done those things if I hadn't left you." I was already prepared for this argument.

"But it was your choice. You didn't want me anymore, that doesn't give me the right to-" I was cut off by another kiss.

"Bella, I've NEVER stopped wanting you!" I couldn't move. He seemed so sincere. He seemed sincere that night in the forest too. "I only wanted you to be safe. But as long as you were close to me, that couldn't happen! I love you."

It was like my heart broke all over again, everything froze. I wanted to believe him so badly. I was burning for it, but part of me still held back. It's always so easy for him to trick me, why should this time be any different? But I've been begging and wishing and praying to hear those words for months. Now that he's really saying them… What the hell am I waiting for!? I buried my face in his chest, slobbering out apologies and I-love-you's through tears and snot.

He held me close to him, whispering sweet words in my ear. I didn't make you half the words, drowned out by my sobbing, but his tone of voice filled me with warmth. He rolled on his side, laying my head on the pillow and hovered over me. He leaned down and kissed me, and then he kissed me again. And then again. "Bella… All I've ever wanted if for you to be safe and happy. That's why I've been watching over you the past few days." He leaned in for another kiss, but I pulled away.

"What did you say?" It can't be.

"Before today, I've been watching you from afar. Making sure you don't get into any trouble. Surprisingly, you didn't." He smiled at his joke, but I just stared back. He frowned. "What's wrong?"

"It was you? All that time…" That prickle on my back, ever since that first day as Angela's friend. It was him? He'd been there? Watching me? "You were there for all that time." I was still happy, but that got pushed to the side. I wasn't sad, or depressed, or even sick. I was pissed. "The past week!?"

I placed my hands on his chest and pushed him away. He let me moved him, I know, and his curious expression followed me as I threw the covers off and got out of bed. He just laid there, looking confused. "You mean for the past week, I was the only one!? I was the only one who was sad and lonely!? I dreamed about you every night! I wanted to see you SO much! And you didn't feel that way at all!?"

Tears were back. Edward reached out a hand. "Bella, you're-"

"I'm not sad!" I yelled and threw a small pillow at him. Even though I'm sure I aimed at him, it didn't land anywhere near him. "I'm just so mad! You were there all that time, but you left me all alone!? You- You- Jerk!" Oh, I wanted to call him so many other things. But at the same time, I didn't. It was all very confusing.

That continued for a few minutes. I'd start yelling, then try to quiet down before yelling some more. Edward just stayed on the bed and took it, until I exhausted myself and had to sit down on the bed. Then he appeared behind me and took me in his arms.

"…You know I didn't mean any of that, right?" I asked quietly as he smoothed my hair.

"It's alright. I deserved it." I really wanted to argue, but I was too tired. "I'm sorry, for everything, Bella. For leaving, for running away from you in Greenland, for not coming back to you right away. I'm so sorry."

"I forgive you." I whispered.

"I wish you wouldn't. "

I touched his hand and stroked his palm. Then I laced our fingers together and held them tight. "I love you."

"I love you too."

We stayed like that for a longer while. I was waiting to completely cool down, or at least at fist I was. But then it was just so comfortable, Edward's ice cold skin, and the fiery feeling he ignited inside me. It was a Kodak moment, and I wanted to enjoy it.

I eventually spoke up. "You still haven't told me why you came back."

"I haven't, have I?" I looked up at him and frowned. He laughed. "Calm down." He touched me comfortingly and I smiled. "Alice started Seeing you again, even after we left for Prince Edward's Island. She tried to hide it at first, but… I caught on eventually."

I lifted his hand and pressed it to my cheek, which was burning bright red. He was so close, all this happiness was bubbling inside me, I might just float away.

"It was too much. Seeing you every single day. I saw you trip and scrape your elbow a few weeks ago, and then I saw you slipping on a wet sidewalk. You still seem to be on gravity's hit list." He laughed again, and I could feel his chest rumble beneath my back. "I just couldn't take it anymore, seeing you without really seeing you. Not being able to touch you or talk to you or touch you." His grip tightened around me, but it was still so comfortable. "I didn't plan to show myself. I just wanted to admire you from afar, keep you out of danger. I don't normally follow you as closely as I did today, but I wanted to be near you, smell you. I saw your mirror, and I knew that you'd seen me. I didn't want to run away, I couldn't."

"I'm glad you didn't."

"I wish I had." I started to turn on him, but he held me still. "I'm afraid I won't ever be able to leave you again. No matter what." I had stiffened under his grip, but relaxed now. I carefully pushed away his arms and rotated to face him.

I touched his neck and slid my hand up to his cheek. "Good." And then we kissed.

Awww… How cute! Okay everybody, all that's left now is the epilogue. Go ahead and read that, and I'll talk to you all later.