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A January Wedding

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A January Wedding

It had turned to dusk by the time we headed back towards the house slowly, walking arm in arm. "I suppose I should warn you." Edythe started.

"Please do."

"Archie has decorated the house while we were gone. That's part of why I insisted we go out and hunt today, of course. He wants to celebrate your birthday. We all do actually."

I groaned loudly. "Why? I'm no longer aging just like the rest of you."

"It's your first birthday with us, and besides, your the closest to human of all of us." She was quiet for a few seconds before she continued. "And when I say all, I do mean all."

I blinked several times. "But Eleanor and Royal are in Africa on a hone...vacation." I couldn't even force the word honeymoon out of my mouth, because even though part of me wanted that with her, the requirement to get us to that point – I thought about running away again.

"They should have arrived home a couple hours ago." Edythe laughed. "Eleanor wanted to be here."

"But Royal?" I hissed his name.

"Royal will be on his best behavior."

I shuddered. We hadn't gotten along since I'd been changed, and by hadn't gotten along, I meant we'd had to be forcibly separated several times.

Up ahead, I saw our house, someone had wrapped the house and garage with blue Christmas lights in the time we'd been gone. "Over the top much," I grumbled under my breath.

"Be nice," Edythe said before racing ahead and jumping over the creek.

I briefly glanced back into the forest, tempted to race off instead, but sighed and ran forward, jumping over the creek as well so that I could join Edythe. She took my hand again so that we walked up to the house together.

We went into the house through the huge sliding glass doors in the side, heading directly into the living room where our family was waiting.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY," Archie yelled. Most of the others said it as well at a far more reasonable octave. Archie rolled his eyes. "My family is the saddest lot of partiers. Ever." He raced over to a table where a handful of wrapped boxes were sat out, and quickly brought back a box that looked to be about ten inches by ten by about three high. He handed it to me.

It was, extremely, light. "It's clothes, isn't it?" I grumbled.

Archie's eyes glinted with a hint of steel. "Just open it, you'll love it, I promise."

"Fine." I carefully slid my finger under the paper and started to unwrap it. As soon as I finished unwrapping, I knew I was right, it was a plain white box designed to fit garments inside. I opened the lid and the first thing I saw was an envelope. I arched an eyebrow suspiciously. I picked up the envelope and underneath was a fold t-shirt with a Linkin Park logo on it. Underneath was a pair of faded jeans. "These the jeans you were looking for this morning?"

Archie laughed. "Inside the envelope are tickets for a concert to go see Linkin Park in early spring next year. Just one for you, and one for Edythe." I blinked once. "You're welcome."

Eleanor opened her mouth to speak but Archie grabbed the wrapping paper I'd so diligently pulled off perfectly, crumbling it into a ball and throwing it at Eleanor.

"Not yet," Archie said.

I looked at him suspiciously.

"I did not plan the perfect birthday party for it to be ruined by going out of order." He took the box out of my hand and set it down in a carefully cleared spot on the table before handing me another box of similar size wrapped in a gold and silver trim. It had From Archie on top.

I cautiously unwrapped it, not truly wanting to open it. Finally I pulled the box lid off of it and just about dropped it immediately. It was pink. Hot pink.

"I do not wear pink, Archie. Have you lost your mind?"

Archie grumbled something about it being all the rage in Milan but quickly placed it on the table before handing me another, much smaller, package. It was from Edythe.

I opened it in my same careful way. What I found inside was something so very simple, so very basic, that it almost shocked me. It was a necklace made up of a simple leather band. It was what was on the end that made it so important though. Because on the necklace was a plastic bottle cap with a hole drilled through the center – a bottle cap Edythe had stolen from me back in the school cafeteria when I'd still been human. I put the necklace on immediately.

The gifts continued being handed to me after that. Archie gave me box after box that had varying meaning and importance. A set of first edition Frankenstein books, a laptop, a picture from our cousins in Denali with two plane tickets so that Edythe and I could go visit, a set of pens, and much more... At one point Archie slid a small box in my pocket, muttering about it being for later.

When there were only three unopened items left on the table; a giant one from Royal and two from Eleanor. Archie gave me one of the items from Eleanor, which the instant I opened it and discovered the sex toy inside I slammed the lid shut and threw it as hard as I could at Eleanor. She caught it, of course.

"Okay, now we can go look at the big gift," Archie said as he looked at Eleanor maliciously. It wasn't half a second later that he pounced on my back. His hands covering my eyes.

"Hey!" I said in consternation, tempted to try and throw Archie off.

"I could have done that without any troubles," Edythe said.

"You might have let him cheat. Now take his hand and guide him.. err.. us out."

Edythe pulled me out of the house and across the grass in the general direction of the outbuildings and the garage. I knew everyone else was following behind by the sounds of their footsteps but couldn't understand why we were heading to the garage though it should have been obvious.

Finally we stopped a few feet into the garage and Archie jumped down. "You can look now."

I opened my eyes which I had closed instinctively when he'd covered them. In front of me was a fire engine red Chevy Camaro with a giant blue bow tied around it.

I blinked, counting backwards from ten in my head. It didn't really make me find the excitement that it was clear they wanted. Finally, I said, "Thank you, it's great."

Royal stepped forward, advising all of us about the car and the stereo he put in it earlier today while I'd been out hunting, advising me that I didn't have to open that box now.

When we got back inside, Archie tossed both of the unopened packages away. I took the stuff I liked upstairs to my room, deliberately leaving the hot pink shirt and the canary yellow tie on the table. After I set everything down, I turned to Edythe.

"I know some of things are a bit more expensive that what you'd probably get yourself, Beau, but we just want you to be happy here."

"I know." It was the only reason I hadn't thrown a fit over the items, particularly the car. "Thank you, especially for what you gave me." I stepped over to her, giving her a brief and very sweet kiss before pulling back, not wanting to test the careful boundaries we had set.

After she left my room, I pulled the small box out of my pocket, taking off the wrapping just as carefully as I had with all the rest. Inside the paper was a felt covered black box with hinges on the back. I opened it. Nestled in the bottom were three rings. Two of them were clearly wedding bands, one for a guy and one for a girl, while the third was an old fashioned engagement ring with a face that was a long oval, set with slanting rows of glittering round stones. The band was gold – delicate and narrow. The gold made a fragile web around the diamonds.

In the top of the box was a folded note. I pulled it out and unfolded it so I could read it.

Beau,

The rings in this box belonged to Edythe's parents. I am hoping that, with these, you might be able to find the closure you need to help move you to the place you need to get to.

Earnest

I stared at the box with the rings in my hand until the next day came.

It had been almost four months since my birthday and in that time, I'd forced myself to accept my place as Edythe's shadow. I no longer flinched when someone said the word marriage, no longer grimaced when Archie gave me some ridiculously expensive clothes, no longer tried to find myself, because at some point while opening the presents I'd been given, I'd finally figured it out. It wasn't me that they loved, so much as the idea of me. I was merely the second half of the perfect mold to four perfectly mated couples.

So, since my birthday, I let the parts of me that made me myself cease to exist.

It was a couple days after the new year while Edythe and I were hunting together that things came to a front. I smelled a scent and that scent wasn't what I associated with a normal human. It was a thousand times stronger, the pain the scent caused demanded to be clenched immediately, and I couldn't find the will inside myself to resist. So I chased the scent down and I drained the person dry.

Edythe stood by and did nothing.

"Why? Why didn't you stop me?" I demanded after she helped me to dispose of the body.

"It wasn't my place," she said softly.

"Why are you here then? If you were just going to stand by and do nothing then why am I not just just hunting alone? Wouldn't that be easier?"

She smiled softly. "I can't just let you hunt alone, Beau. I love you."

My brow furrowed. "I am... confused." I had no other word for it. If she loved me so much then why hadn't she stopped me? I didn't understand at all.

"We aren't mates, Beau. Not yet. It doesn't matter how much we love each other."

I understood what she was implying. That we wouldn't be mates until we were married. It was what she wanted more than anything, and even though I'd been trying to find the perfect time to actually propose properly, I hadn't been able to yet.

I decided to change it now, stepping over to her, I pulled the engagement ring I'd been carrying with me for months out of my pocket, sliding it on her finger. "If it's a piece of paper that will make us mated then let's get it done. Today, tomorrow... the sooner the better." I was completely calm, completely resolute, as I said the words to her.

It took us over a week before we finally made our way to a courthouse in Seattle. I wore a suit that I felt suffocated in while Edythe wore a pretty white dress with and an elegant floral design on the front. The dress was simple enough that one could mistake it for everyday wear, and yet elegant enough to still be considered a wedding dress.

I'd asked her, if she'd wanted the whole wedding affair but she said she didn't need all that, which was why we were in Seattle today, marrying each other and ruining Archie's careful plans to have some sort of elaborate vampire wedding.

The blue contacts I wore were irritating as I couldn't see as clearly with them on, but I knew they were necessary. "This is what you need, right?" I asked, just to make sure she didn't want something else, something more.

"Yes," she replied.

"Then let's get this done and go back home."

We walked into the courthouse together and to the room with the justice of the peace.

"You're Beaufort Masen and Edythe Cullen?" the elderly official asked.

It was weird, hearing me called that, but we'd had to change my last name so that we could get married without any issues arising and it had been the one I'd decided on last minute when I'd asked Jessamine to get the documents for me from her business associate.

"Yes," we said together.

"You are both quite young. Are you sure this is what you want?" He looked between the two of us in suspicion.

"Yes," we said together, again.

"Very well." He looked down at a book. "Do you, Beaufort Masen, take this woman, Edythe Cullen, to be you wife in holy matrimony? Do you promise to honor and cherish her forevermore? Do you pledge to share your life with her, to speak the truth to her, to encourage and care for her? Will you love her, comfort her, honor her, and keep her in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?"

"I do," I murmured, loud enough that the justice could hear the words, but my eyes were on Edythe.

It was the last part of myself that I was giving up, I was hers completely now and I knew it. I was okay with it too... As long as we remained together.

The justice repeated the litany of questions to Edythe that he'd just said to me. I barely heard him.

"I do," Edythe agreed softly.

"You may now kiss the bride."

I stepped forward, kissing her softly in a promise, before pulling away. We both signed the wedding certificate dated for January 11, 2006.

I accepted it as the start of forever.

It was the next evening before we reached our honeymoon destination. It was an island with a small villa off the shores of Italy that was called Royal's Isle. I hadn't dared to ask what Edythe had promised him in order for us to to use it.

Once we'd arrived at the island, we took it slow, both of us uncertain for a whole new reason. In spite of both our desires for each other, it was new territory for us both, and unlike in the movies, it wasn't perfect.

As the layers came off and our flesh met for the first time, it was awkward and new. It was fresh and unknown, exciting and scary, and ultimately it was fulfilling. We found each other anew, and we were happy.

In fact, I was happy for years. It wasn't until I happened to overhear a conversation between Edythe, Archie and Jessamine after I got back from a hunt early about five years later that I realized how badly I'd been deceived. They didn't notice that I was there and listening in.

"I love him. I'll always love him no matter how he acts, but he's not the same Beau that I fell in love with originally."

"That's because all he knows, all he wants, anymore is to be what he thinks we want him to be," Jessamine said.

"You had a chance to fix this years ago, Edythe. He was going to marry you on his own, and eventually get over whatever made him feel like he had to please us all. But you manipulated him into it instead of just telling him the truth," Archie snapped.

"I made a choice to make the best out of a bad situation."

"Really, then why didn't you explain to him that the reason you didn't try and stop him from killing that human was because I told you not to?"

"How was I supposed to explain to him that he found his own personal brand of heroin at a mere nine months to this life and that if I had stopped him at the time then he just would have gone off on his own later and hunted that person down? Most of our kind never happen across somebody that smells like that. He wouldn't have understood that I'd let him kill that person in front of me, because it was better than had he gone off on his own and did it. You know he wouldn't have understood it."

"I don't know that. All I know is because you manipulated the situation to your advantage, he's accepted that this is how he should act. You made him believe that a piece of paper is being mated. You made him think that the emotional bond had nothing to do with mating. He became this way because of what you made him," Archie said angrily.

I spun and raced away, not able to hear anymore.

Time passed and I never told her what I'd overheard, accepting that I was untrustworthy and that it was what I deserved. The more time that passed, the less time I was able to spend with any of them. I hunted regularly, keeping myself sated to the extreme.

After all, if I'd learned one thing, it was that I couldn't trust them to be there for me. I also couldn't trust myself anymore, because clearly I had misjudged the people that I loved.

And while I never told anyone what I'd discovered, they slowly figured out that I knew and it became the giant elephant in the room.

Still... I stayed... because of her.

Eventually, about thirty years after we were married, we'd moved into a new town in Nova Scotia. It was our first day of school and we were all in line for lunch.

"I'm going to sit by myself," I murmured softly. "It draws too much attention when we all sit together."

It was true, but it wasn't the real reason and we all knew it. Still, Edythe touched my shoulder and let me go. I sat at a table not too far from where the rest of them sat, watching them carefully. If it weren't for the fact that I loved Edythe, I knew I wouldn't be here.

I'd had a chance at a fresh start with the Denalis a few years back. Kirill had offered me the chance to stay, to become a brother, but in spite of how much I didn't trust my family, I couldn't imagine walking away from Edythe, so I had stayed.

As that day came to a close I let them know that I was going out to hunt.

I saw the flash of pain my decision caused Edythe so I kissed her briefly, trying to tell her in the only way I still could that I was sorry... but I still went to hunt.

More years passed and eventually we ended up in a town in France, while the rest of my siblings and Edythe went to school every day, I stayed at home. I was trying to appease Edythe, trying to be better and not hunt so often, trying to find my way back into the fold, but even as I tried, it made me trust myself even less.

Eventually, Edythe confronted me about it. "Why do you stay if you hate it here so much?"

"You know why."

"No, I don't."

"Because I love you, Edythe. I'll always love you. That's never going to change. Just like it's never going to change that I belong to you. Mind, body, heart, and soul."

She knew then that I was talking about the paper. I'd promised to be with her as long we both would live. I'd promised. I'd signed my name on that line. That was why I stayed.

"But you hate me for that."

I didn't deny it. "Yes."

"I don't want your love for me to be tinged with hatred and regret."

"Maybe you should have thought of that back then." Maybe you should have let our marriage been one decided based on trust and respect instead of a lie. I didn't say it, but we both knew it.

"Beau, what will it take to fix this, to fix us?"

I shrugged. "I honestly don't know. I want to be the person you want me to be. I want to be able to forget the past and move forward with the future. I'm trying, Edythe. I really am."

"I know."

It was another twenty years before I left, promising Edythe I'd come back once I found myself. I had tried to stay, but after a little over seventy years, I'd finally broke. I couldn't be the person I'd promised to be to her and so I decided to take myself out of the picture until I could be.

I ended up finding a coven in Michigan who took me in. There were nine of them in the coven, all males. They called themselves the brotherhood...

Actually, they found me, or one of them did, a male that never told me his name, but always called himself Jormungandr was the one that found me. He told me a tale about the female founder of their coven and a boy in an insane asylum, telling me a story I'd never expected to hear.

Him and the others in the brotherhood showed me how to live again. They taught me how to let go, how to fight, how to kill, and how to die. They taught me forgiveness, helped me to learn the natural order, and showed me how to be a vampire.

With them, I barely realized the passage of time, but in spite of all the freedom I found with them, I missed Edythe. I missed my mate. So, eventually, I left.

Almost ninety years after I was originally changed, I caught up with my family, with my Edythe, back in Forks where I sat down in the seat next to her in biology. I reached for her hand.

I was finally home.