A/N I never really intended to make this story very long, so this is the last chapter. However, once school is over, I might be able to do a sequel, if the time to do so appears. :o) I know I haven't answered all the questions, but that's for you, my readers, to handle! Continue the story in your own minds. :o)

I'm leaving what James and Victoria did to Bella ambiguous. Bella seems to think whatever happened was innocent or accidental. Was it? You decide.

If you would like to see some more of my writing that is not on this site, go to Blindingfirefly's page. We're publishing a story together called "Ivy Tree." It's a freakin' good story (even better than this one, I think), in my humble (yet accurate) opinion. I hope everyone will go see it. Please! :o)

I've tried to answer a few questions about Edward's background. I originally tried to keep to the book and have his parents die of illness, but it just didn't work. Medicine in 1918 is just too different from medicine in 2009.

I also realize that Edward is slightly out of character in this chapter in that he is absolutely focused on paying attention to the people around him, whereas in the books he has a tad bit of a selfish streak. I understand that in the books Bella catapults him (to some extent) out of that, but in this story, he's already moving beyond his focus on himself even before Bella arrives. It worked better this way for the purposes of my story though. I hope that the differences in his character are not too jarring (As I've said before OOCness really gets on my nerves, even when it emphasizes positive aspects of a character's personality. I would rather have them portrayed with their sins and leave their character intact).

I suppose, come to think of it, that all of my characters are a little OOC because they're responding to things that they never did in the books... I guess what I tried to do was take what I knew of them and have them react in my story within the parameter sets by SM. Alice is probably the most unlike the books, but again, I've tried to have her react in ways the would work within her essential character. I know some people who would say that Rosalie in this fic is the most different, but I've been championing Rosalie all along, so you know I'll disagree. :o)

This chapter is dedicated to a bunch of people...

To Jennie - May you have bright sunshine for the rest of your life (and the ability to handle very large cows...)

To Lil' Dinky - May your life with your family be blessed

To Katie - who could not be a better sister

And to my Mother.

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.

Chapter Eleven: Healing

Esme gasped when she saw Emmett carrying Bella into the house.

"What happened?" she said, her voice worried. Carlisle walked swiftly out of the study at the sound of Esme's voice. He looked at Bella in Emmett's arms.

"Does she need me?" he asked.

"We're not really sure, actually…" began Alice.

"What did James and Victoria do?" Edward asked Bella urgently.

Emmett settled her on the couch and Rosalie brought Bella her tablet from off the kitchen table. Jake came and laid his head beside Bella's lap.

"Nothing really... Victoria touched me when I was changing after gym… I don't know if it was an accident or not … but she started laughing when I flinched … and then James came in when she called him. I got scared. I was so stupid. I'm sorry for making everyone upset," she concluded simply.

"Oh Bella! Please don't apologize!" said Esme, hugging her.

"I think she did it on purpose," Rosalie muttered. Alice (shocking Edward slightly, since she wasn't usually vindictive) nodded in agreement. Of course, Bella would think it was an accident.

"I just wish you hadn't been scared," said Edward, pacing and pinching the bridge of his nose.

Bella was still for a moment, and then she wrote, "But I will get scared sometimes, Edward. You can't keep trying to keep everyone from being afraid."

"What do you mean?" asked Edward, stopping his agitated pacing.

"You worry constantly. I'm not stupid. I've seen it," she wrote slowly, meticulously trying to convey her thoughts in neat handwriting so that Edward would understand.

"What are you so worried about?" she persisted.

Edward glanced up in consternation and saw everyone looking at him intently.

"I just …. I don't know…." he said helplessly.

"So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another," says the author of Ephesians… And that is the heart of the matter….

"That's not good enough, Edward," wrote Bella, gently taking his hand.

"I just …. I just get so angry…. At everything that happened to all of us…. Rosalie … shouldn't have us watching her every bite at dinner … Emmett shouldn't watch the mail every day…. Jasper shouldn't be so silent …. Alice shouldn't have to wear costumes and masks … Esme shouldn't have scars … Carlisle shouldn't have been abandoned….You shouldn't be mute" he broke off, and took a deep breath.

"And your parents shouldn't have died?" guessed Bella.

"No, they shouldn't have!" Edward said harshly. He rubbed his nose again. "They should never have gotten in that car. Even at six I knew that ice and beer didn't mix..."

Edward was silent for a long time. He looked at Bella said in a painful, childklike whisper, "And then no one wanted me. I had no close relatives... No one who could take care of me... And then no one who would. And I never wanted to be like that. I never wanted to be so focused on my own life that I missed..." his voice trailed off.

Bella stood up next to him, and took his hand.

"And I'm so afraid, after everything that has happened to us, what if we become like the people who hurt us, abandoned us? What if we retreat into ourselves, never speaking, never sharing … never trusting…. What if that twists around in us and becomes something hideous … monstrous?" said Edward fiercely.

He looked at Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, Alice, Carlisle, Esme, Bella…

"I need you." "I need to be myself." "I am afraid." "I am angry." "I am in pain." "Hear me." "Help me." "Let me try to help you." "Let us love one another." If we would only speak the truth to one another – parents and children, friends and enemies, husbands and wives, strangers and lovers – we would no longer have to act out our deepest feelings in symbols that none of us understand…

"I'm not stupid, Edward," said Rosalie bluntly. "Do you honestly think I didn't know what you and Jasper and Carlisle were doing when you gave me the cars to take care of?"

Edward shook his head numbly.

"Edward, even though none of us admit sometimes what we are afraid of, we still reach out to each other in other ways," said Alice.

Edward was surprised she spoke up. She rarely contributed to these kinds of serious conversations.

"Jasper has showed me that he loves me even without speaking. So have Esme and Carlisle – we couldn't have come to a better place," she concluded.

She smiled up at Jasper and took his hand.

"Yeah, Carlisle and Esme have helped us in more ways than one," Emmett added, grinning. "Besides all the serious stuff, without them, I would never have met Rose!"

"And just in case you would like for us to say what we feel out loud," began Jasper softly, speaking to Edward. "I feel very … comfortable here at your house, Esme and Carlisle. Thank you," he said, looking at them. "I trust you, Edward … and Emmett. And I love you, Alice." He looked at each one.

Finally, he brought his eyes to Rosalie.

"And I'm … sorry, Rosalie," he said in a raspy voice.

"For what?" gasped Rosalie.

"For not keeping you safe," he said. The muscles tensed in his face, but it didn't work. The tears fell anyway.

"Jasper Hale," said Rosalie in a fierce voice. "I never, ever blamed you for what happened. And if you keep blaming yourself for it, I'm going to punch you into next week."

"And she could too," added Emmett helpfully.

"Are you hearing me clearly?" she asked.

Her words weren't the platitudes he was expecting, but it worked. Jasper gulped and nodded. Rosalie walked over and hugged Jasper. Edward almost missed her whisper, "I love you."

Edward never heard her brother's response, but the opaque shield in Jasper's eyes cleared. Jasper pulled back and took a deep breath. Alice took his hand again.

Bella wrote on her tablet, "Satisfied Edward?"

Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie and Edward all laughed. Just as they were calming down to breathe again, Emmett asked Esme what was for dinner, which just set everyone off again.

Edward collapsed on the couch next to Bella, chuckling.

Beneath the loud hilarity going on around him, he could just barely hear Bella humming in a thin, reedy voice, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…."

In our sickness, stubbornness, pride, we starve ourselves for what we hunger for above all else. "Speaking the truth in love" is another phrase from Ephesians… It is the only cure for the anorexia that afflicts us all.