I WAS PRETTY SURE I WAS DREAMING.
How else could I explain the fact that I was sitting in the throne next to Marcus? The one that was always empty. I stared out at the gilded room and then turned to left and saw Marcus looking back at me. Aro, Caius, and their wives weren’t there. It was just me and Marcus. He reached out his hand and caressed my cheek with his fingers. I cringed away from his touch but he did not move his fingers.
“Don’t go.” He whispered, and then suddenly the scene warped. I was standing facing Aro, and his face was terrifying. For once his anger and cruelty had sunk to the surface. I tried to back away but I tripped over something and then stumbled to the ground. Aro reached down for me, his fingers hooked into claws. I screamed and turned my head. I had to escape. It was then that I saw what I had tripped over.
It was Jacob.
Then the strangest thing happened….I could feel myself waking up….could see the cell taking shape around me….but then I saw someone I hadn’t thought about it a long time. It was Benjamin. The vampire who could control the elements….his head was poking from a hole in the ground and he was grinning at me. He put his finger to his lips and then disappeared. Three minutes later I was completely awake. I ran my hands over the place where Benjamin’s head had been, my heart pounding. I felt nothing at first…then a small seam brushed my fingertips and I snapped my hand back. Dream. Dream. Dream. It was a dream. I told myself as I rested back against the cold wall. Another art of my dream swirled through my mind and I felt the odd flip in my stomach that I got whenever I realized something strange was going on.
I vowed then that I would find out about Marcus’s wife.
“Morning, Ness.” Seth mumbled sleepily. I smiled at him and squeezed his hand.
“Morning, sleepy head.” I teased. He yawned and stretched.
“Not much else to do here.” He said groggily. I sighed, he was right. If our lives weren’t already in danger from the Volturi, I’d think we’d die of boredom.
“Seth?” I asked slowly. He looked up. “Yeah?”
“Do you….do you know anything about Marcus?” I asked, trying to sound casual. Seth looked at me with a confused expression.
“Uh….not really…I mean he doesn’t do much…and I’m just the inviso-pawn in this whole thing….but...” He paused as something flickered across his face. “Although….there was this time…remember how I told you the two times I tried to escape I got beat pretty bad?” I nodded, my hands clenching automatically. “Well….the second time I actually was able to rip a finger offa one of the guards. Too bad it wasn’t Felix right?.....anyway, they seemed like they weren’t going to hold back as much…sure was the worst beating I’ve ever taken. Aro was pretty mad about it too, he’s allot less friendly with a ‘dog’ like me. But anyway, I thought they might not you know..stop this time. But then Marcus told them that the plan wouldn’t work if I was dead. Aro agreed and then the rest stopped. And you know by that time I really didn’t know what the hell was goin’ on, ya know? But it seemed like Marcus….was trying to help me.” He stopped and looked out the cell doors, his boyish face troubled. I nodded. I knew it. Out of three Ancients Marcus had a conscious.
And if one of them had a conscious then I wouldn’t give up hope.
I was so bored. Seth was snoring quietly in the corner. I started singing every song I knew in my head. Starting with all my favorite classical composers, then Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, and Muse. I wished I had some kind of CD or MP3, but instead I contented myself with signing the lyrics or humming the tune as loud as I could in my head. The Volturi may be trying to actually kill me. I was that freaking bored. I sighed and leaned my head against the cell wall. I wondered why they hadn’t come for me….I had thought that they would want to indoctrinate me into their “family” by taking me out for a walk every day and showing me around this prison they called a home. But no had come today. When we had woken up there was a scrap of bread for Seth, but otherwise nothing. Suddenly a creaking noise interrupted my thoughts. I sprang up and looked around wildly. A dark figure was moving towards the cell, the door already closing. As the sliver of light got smaller and smaller the figure got closer. The first thing I recognized sent a jolt down my spine.
Pale blond hair.
My heart started racing. It could be two people, and since his head as bowed I couldn’t see which one. If it was Marcus I might be able to get the answers I wanted…if it was Caius then Aro might have changed his mind.
Perhaps boredom wasn’t going to be my killer.
Whoever it was got closer and closer, I straightened up and faced the cell door. Head high. Slowly the figure raised their head. I instantly recognized the smooth bored features. Relief washed through me and my shoulders relaxed a little. Marcus just looked at me for a long second before I bowed my head respectfully. Marcus would be the only ancient to which I showed respect.
“To what do I owe this visit, Marcus?” I asked. He seemed momentarily taken aback by my polite demeanor. Yeah, I had to inherit some personality traits from my dad. His face slipped back into blankness once again though in a second.
“I decided to check on you. I know you must be getting very thirsty.” Ah, kindness. Such an underdeveloped practice in this hell.
“Thank you for your concern. But I am fine….I will in no way hunt humans. I would rather die.” Not that the thought of human blood wasn’t making my throat burn like crazy. But I wouldn’t let that change who I was. Marcus nodded and then took a step back as if he was going to leave. I held out my hand, only meaning to make a “stop” gesture, but instead I brushed my hand against his cloak.
Absolute quite followed.
Marcus seemed stunned. I was shocked. Partially because of his reaction, I mean I had just touched his cloak. But his eyes were showing sparks of emotions. Something I’d never seen before in him. I decided the best thing to do was apologize.
“Er…sorry. I only meant for you to stop….I wanted to say something.” He composed himself quickly and then stilled.
“Yes?” His voice didn’t even make it seem like a question. All his words sounded the same.
“I wanted to thank you. I remember the fight that happened six years ago…you….you were the only one who voted for me to live because you felt I actually should. Aro was forced into it. Caius probably wanted to kill me himself…so thank you. I remember.” Marcus seemed surprised, even though the only way I could tell was the slight raise of his left eyebrow.
“Truly a long memory for a Dhampir. Do not thank me though. It was the right thing to do obviously, as I can see before me that you are not dangerous. It was merely a choice based on my opinion.” I raised my eyebrows. This was a tough nut to crack.
“I think that perhaps it was a little bit of empathy on your part, Marcus. Do not write off your kindness as a state of facts….also…what did you call me?” Dhampir. I hadn’t heard that one before. Marcus seemed almost confused by my words. That was good. Confusion made for a slip of tongue. And that’s exactly what I needed.
“It is what the mortals call half-vampires. Apparently they are quite popular in human fantasy stories.” I laughed softly. “How would you know?” I asked.
“I often read mortal works. It’s interesting to see through their weak eyes.” It almost seemed like a joke. I smiled.
“That’s very interesting, Marcus. I wouldn’t have thought that about you.” Already learning new things. This was exactly what I needed. Marcus blinked and then took another step back. I took a deep breath. This was my chance. Good luck, Renesmee. I reached out through the bars and snagged his cold shale-textured hand.
“Please stay. It’s so boring here, and if I’m going to be part of the Volturi I’d like to learn more about you.” Lie. Huge lie. Dear god do not him see through me. Marcus still did not react. Nothing. I counted my heart beats. One-hundred and forty beats later Marcus took a shuddering breath and then slipped his hand out of mine. That was alright. He did not step away and that was what mattered. He looked at me with his dull red eyes, more black then red now.
“What….do you want to know?” I could bet you this was the most he talked in half a century. I sat down slowly and crossed my skinny-jean encased legs, staring up sweetly at Marcus. He stared down at me, surprised yet again.
“Well…..how did the Volturi start?” I asked. A tiny part of me actually wanted to know. Marcus sighed and then looked out into the dark gloom of the dungeon.
“Aro was changed over ten centuries ago…..when he realized he had such a powerful ability he decided to build a coven. He changed me first. We found Caius, and then slowly started to build members. Now we are the largest and most powerful coven in Europe.” I sighed inwardly. That was the fact-fact-the end version of the story. I wanted details. Oh well, I needed to take my time. I nodded.
“That’s interesting. My grandfather Carlisle once told me about his journey to your coven. I’m sure you heard that one, but did you ever hear about how he created my family? Here, I’ll tell you.” I set into the story, making it rich with details. Marcus almost seemed…interested. That was good.
When I finished my story Marcus nodded politely, thanked me for my story, and then back out of the dungeon. I sighed, triumphed, and sat against the wall.
“What the hell was that about, Ness?” Seth’s voice startled me.
“AH! Oh, Seth…your awake….” I took a deep breath. “I can’t tell you. It’s bad enough I know my motives. I’m trying not to think about it.” I said quickly. Seth nodded in understanding and then grinned at me.
“I trust you, Ness. I won’t think about it either.”
The next day Marcus did not come and I got worried. But then the next day he once again arrived at the door. And the next day, and the one after that, and the one after that. Soon he came every day.
I followed a pattern; I would take his hand (he would let go after a stunned silence) then I’d sit down, ask him something about the Volturi and then tell him story about my life.
On the third day he let go of my hand slower than usual.
On the fifth he held it for six-hundred heart beats.
And on the tenth he sat down with me.
It was on the thirteenth day that I asked him the question I had been saving for so long.
“Marcus…what happened to your wife?” I asked quietly. Marcus was still for a second, then he sprang to his feet in a blurred movement. His face was tight, emotions I had never seen on him flickering across his pale sharp face. Confusion. Pain. Denial. Sadness. Anger. Pain. I waited until each one had run its course before looked up at him with pleading eyes.
“Wait. Don’t go, please.” He had already taken three steps back. He shook his head and turned, walking all the way to the door. I felt sadness. I had started this routine with Marcus to try and help me and Seth. But I had found myself overwhelmed with pity for this broken man. And then, slowly, I started to like him. I felt as if he was my friend, however one-sided the friendship might be I found myself caring for him. I looked down at my clenched hands and felt another wave of guilt and grief. I would miss him. I would honestly miss one of the Ancients. I thought hate was the only thing I would ever feel for any of them. But here I was, sad to know that Marcus would never come back.
“Her name was Didyme.” Marcus’s quite voice shocked me. I gasped and my head whipped up to see him paused with his hand on the door. He hadn’t left.
“What happened?” I whispered. Marcus’s hand clenched into a fist. For some reason it seemed as if he was battling with himself.
“She…..was…killed….by a…..enemy coven…..she went out…to help Aro and some others with an errand…..he came back…said that she was….killed in a surprise attack…..he brought back…some of…her ashes….I killed…the coven….in vengeance….but it…didn’t help……me…..I….nothing...could help me.” Then he turned slowly, his face broken into a hundred facets of the shattered mask he’d worn for so long. He reached slowly to his neck and withdrew a satin pouch on an old black ribbon.
“Her ashes.” He whispered. I felt a lump rise in my throat. So this was why he was like this. Dead. Numb. Cold. His mate, his true love, and been killed. Her ancient ashes still treasured by the man who loved her so much.
“I’m so sorry.” I croaked. Marcus did nothing. Still and silent, not even breathing. After five minutes of this he dropped the bag and then walked closer to me. He reached his hand out and placed it on the top of my head. Then, something amazing happened.
It was a smile of someone who hadn’t felt happiness in years and years. Tentative and small, but still there on his white face. His clouded eyes softer then I had ever seen them.
“Do not be sorry, Renesmee. For after centuries of being dead, you have done something to me I cannot explain. I have not smiled in over six hundred years. You….the prisoner of my brothers, have become a light in this darkness. I should be sorry. Sorry that you are here. Sorry that I did not realize before what you are……who you remind me of.” He took a deep breath. “You remind me of Didyme. Her gift was happiness, and that is what she brought me. You too have brought me happiness. Small happiness. A flickering candle of warmth in the cold. But it is enough. So I thank you, Renesmee.” I couldn’t pinpoint my emotions anymore, so reeling and changing that I couldn’t choose one. So instead of saying anything I looked up at Marcus and smiled.
He smiled back.
Late that night, I felt something I had not felt in awhile. Change. A whisper of hope in the bleak darkness. I know Seth felt it too, for his head raised from where it had lay on the cold ground and his eyes were more alert then I had seen them if a long time. Far away I heard a sound that filled me with strength. A sound that I knew would change my fate. A sound that brought tears of joy to my eyes.
It was the sound of someone humming my mother’s lullaby.
16. Battle (Part 1)
THAT MORNING I WAS AWAKENED BY THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS AS SOMEONE DREW CLOSER TO MY CELL. I RAI-
sed my head and my eyes immediately met Marcus’s. I heard the clinking sound of something being unlocked and then my door swung open. Marcus stared down at me and held out his hand.
“Come with me.” He said, his voice low and sharp. I shrank against the wall, afraid of what might be happening. I trusted Marcus but none of the other Ancients. Marcus saw my hesitation and smiled another faint, small smile. I smiled back, reassured enough to reach out and take his hand. He pulled my swiftly to my feet and turned as if to walk away.
“Wait!” I said and turned back to the cell, Seth was watching us with raised eyebrows. “Seth. Please, let him come too.” I said, widening my eyes and making the expression that I always used on my dad when I wanted something. Marcus looked between Seth and me a few times before nodding curtly
“Whatever makes you happy.” He said before turning and starting to walk to the door. I smiled at his back and then turned and saw Seth was already standing behind me. I grabbed his hand and started walking after Marcus. I felt a churning nervous sensation in my stomach. What was going on? It had to be important because Marcus seemed on edge…and Seth was coming, he had allowed it, not said we were just going on a walk or something. I focused on the humming I had heard last night. If it meant what I thought it did, then perhaps I should stop worrying….
Or start panicking.
Marcus took us down the familiar bedecked hallway, but to my surprise instead of turning into the gilded throne room as I expected he continued down the hall.
“Marcus…where are we going?” I asked quietly.
“The receiving room.” He said bluntly, then he turned to look at me and his eyes softened. “Do not be afraid, Renesmee. I will not let any harm come to you or the wolf.” Then he turned back and started his swift pace up again. It still amazed me to see emotion on his gaunt face. For so long he looked dead….but now sparks of life and flickers of smiles danced across his shadowed face when he spoke. It was amazing. I bit my lip as Seth and I followed Marcus down a dark hall and then around a sharp corner; if I was able to escape this place….I didn’t….I didn’t want to leave him. I couldn’t….he had told me that I made him happy…..how would I leave knowing that he could turn back into the dead man again? My thoughts were cut short however when Marcus stopped in front of two large ornate doors. On the other side I could hear murmuring voices, I recognized Jane’s snide tenor and Aro’s almost manic-laughter. I tensed and Seth squeezed my hands.
“Don’t worry about it, Nessie.” He whispered. Marcus turned to me, and the look in his eyes was almost exasperated. I cracked a smile at that and his whispery smile spread across his face. He reached over and patted my cheek gently, I had always been afraid of the powdery touch of the Ancients….but I didn’t flinch away this time. All I felt was comforted by the familiar cool touch, surprised at how soft it was. Marcus turned back to the door and then pushed it open with a swift flick of his wrist.
The inside room was huge, like a slightly smaller football field. On one end there were the three wooden thrones that littered any room Aro decided to grace with his presence, otherwise the only furniture in the room was a long ornate purple-black carpet that ran the length of the room. I was instantly reminded of the times Alice and I would hole up in front of the TV and watch the red-carpet coverage while rating the celebrities’ outfits (Alice always gave them low marks). I shook away the thought and focused on the group by the thrones that had fallen silent. Demitri, Felix, Jane, Alec, Gianna, a woman who I think was named Heidi, and a few other dark grey-cloaked guards I recognized, and then a few lighter grey pawns, and of course Caius and Aro and their ghostly wives. Caius looked furious and Aro looked amused. Marcus started walking down the long hall, I followed cautiously with Seth at my heels. I could hear his heart accelerate out of nervousness or fear I wasn’t sure. Once we were within five feet of the thrones Aro stood and held out his hands in a friendly gesture.
“Ah, hello, dear ones! What a pleasant surprise! And Seth too! Oh how delightful!” He cried. Seth’s expression mirrored my thoughts; what a weirdo. Marcus bowed his head politely and then looked up directly into Aro’s eyes.
“Aro…I have come here to ask for a vote on Renesmee’s behalf. I believe that letting her out of the dungeon would be acceptable now, as we have kept her imprisoned for over three weeks. I know this is no time at all to us, but I’m sure it seems longer to her and the shapeshifter. I doubt that we are in danger from her family, regardless of whether they suspect us or not.” The stunned silence that followed was almost unbearable. Of course I felt warmed by the fact that Marcus was standing in front of his brethren asking for me to be released. But the icy glares we were getting from ninety-nine percent of the people here were not heartening. Aro smiled a Marcus, as if he was understanding and caring. But his eyes burned with an emotion that made me shudder. I was afraid of two Aro’s. One of them was the greedy side of him, the other the dangerous vampire-ruler…that one he kept under wraps, his smiles always kind, his words always soft. But there was the dangerous side of him.
And his eyes showed just how close that side was.
I’m sure Marcus could see it too but he didn’t move, didn’t wave away his request, didn’t send me away. It touched me how much he seemed to care for me. I could tell that behind me Seth was about ready to phase, he hated being near the Ancients. But I couldn’t pay much attention or try to sooth him, because Aro was starting to speak.
“Dear brother, I am so happy to see you have taken a fondness for our Renesmee! I haven’t seen you like this in so long, and I must say it brings me great joy to see you happy! But…” and here he shook his head sadly as if what he was going to say next caused him great pain. The faker. “But….I just don’t know…..for you see, Marcus, I would cringe to think that it was possible in any way for our dear Renesmee to be taken from us. I just want to make absolutely sure that the Cullen coven will not come for Renesmee dear….just a little while longer, and then I will be able to let her go with a clean conscious….” He trailed off and I could see his motives clear as day.
He wanted to break me.
I was about to speak, tired of being quite and small. Damn politeness in front of Marcus! But then Aro opened his mouth again, his eyes taking on the look of phony-grief. What else could he do?
“Marcus….a thought has just occurred to me….what if, and I mean no offensive to dear Renesmee and our wolf…..but what if, perhaps while you were visiting Renesmee, my brother, that you were attacked? Now I know Renesmee wouldn’t want to hurt you, but what if the wolf became volatile?” He shook his head slowly as dread started to seep deep into my bones.
“Now, dear one, I don’t want to have to force you into anything. But I really think it would be better if you didn’t visit Renesmee every day. I fear for you, brother. If anything were to happen to you I don’t know what I would do! Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I just think it would be better if you stayed in safety. I’m sure Caius would agree” The cold set in completely now. So this is what he could do.
He could take Marcus away from me.
My heart was beating faster and faster, my throat swelling. No, no, no, no! He can’t take away Marcus! NO! Marcus seemed almost at a loss for words, his eyes were confused, searching Aro’s face, his features were rigid, his hands half way raised. Aro seemed pleased, and Caius was smirking at me as if to say “And you thought we were finished with you.” Red tinted my vision as anger swarmed down my body like rushing water. I hated him. I hated all of them. They had taken everything away from me. My hands curled into claws and I took a step forward. Marcus’s hand whipped around and grabbed my shoulder as if he could guess my intentions. Seth’s heart was beating like crazy behind me, I’m sure he wasn’t sure what to do at this point. Then, in the time it took for my heart to beat once, everything changed. Every single person in the room froze. I closed my eyes and opened them again. No, no dream. I could still hear it. Everyone was still statutes. I turned to face the direction from which the sound was coming from. Every nerve in my body was alive, every vein in my body pounding.
It was the sound of running.
But it wasn’t just the running that alerted me. No, it was the sound of huge padded feet hitting the ground. I would know that sound anywhere. I looked over at Seth and saw his expression was a mix between elated and stunned. That’s how I felt too. Aro and Caius were talking furiously, but I didn’t even care. They were about to get exactly what was coming to them. A nagging voice in mead started protesting as the footsteps grew louder. What if they got hurt? Suddenly my faded a little, replaced by worry. But it was too late for that now.
They were here.
The large doors flew open. Time seemed to slow as the figures entered the room. Everything blurred then became extremely sharp. There they were.
So consumed was I in my happiness I barely registered the other faces. But they were there, behind the front line other allies stood with their faces cold and emotionless. Siobhan, Maggie, Liam, Tia and Benjamin, the two Romanians, Zafrina, Senna, Kachirir, and the entire Denali coven, all of them were looking into the large room, their body’s coiled and ready for a fight, their eyes glittering.
But I couldn’t focus on any of them.
Because in front of them all was the faces that had never let, the people who I had dreamed about since the first day I had been kidnapped. Emmet, Rosalie, Esme, Carlisle, Jasper, Alice. My mom holding hands with my dad. Seth whooped “Oh, Hell yeah!!” and then exploded into a wolf. But I didn’t even focus on it. Because the thing I was looking at was like a blow; the emotions hit me so strongly.
The huge red-brown wolf.
Jacob. My Jacob. He was so close, I felt tears pinch my eyes and the outraged hisses and snarls behind me became little more the humming. I started to run, I needed to touch him, to make sure this was real. That he was real. But I felt something constricting on my shoulder. I turned and saw Marcus’s hand clamped on my shoulder still. His face was torn, emotions conflicting with each other on his pale face; relief. Sadness. Pain. Anger. Confusion. I was about to say something when I heard a deafening snarl. Oh no. I turned and saw Jacob running towards us, his wolf-face furious.
“Jacob, no!” My dad yelled, but Jacob ignored him. He must have come to the conclusion that Marcus was holding me against my will. Okay, he was, but I think he was confused, wanting to let me be happy with my family, and yet knowing that these were his enemies. Jacob was still charging, and no one behind us was doing anything. Why? I couldn’t let Jacob hurt Marcus!
“No!” I yelled and I flung my arms around Marcus’s torso. I heard Jacobs kid to a halt in front of us, but his shock was nothing compared to Marcus’s. Marcus had frozen, he wasn’t even breathing. His right hand was hovering in the air where my shoulder had been, and his other hand was in held out in front of him as if he was going to try and stop Jacob. I wondered if he could. Were the Ancients fighters? I turned my head to look at Jacob, half my face still buried in Marcus’s soft billowing black cloak. I looked Jacob directly in his huge black eyes.
“Not him.” I whispered. Jacob stared at me for a long second before bowing his huge head. Relief surged through me and I stumbled forward and threw my arms around Jacob’s neck, sobs wracking my body. I buried my face in his neck and sobbed wordlessly. He was here. Jacob. I could touch him, feel the soft fur of his wolf-form, feel his hot breath on my neck as he curled his giant head around to rest on my back, could feel the hot tears that ran down his face into my hair.
“I love you.” I whispered into chest. Up until this point I was lost in my own little word. Nothing could penetrate this bubble I had created around me and the person who mattered most to me in the entire world….but now I could hear it, the snarls, hisses, growls, and furious whispering was issuing from behind me.
We had invoked the Volturi’s wrath.
I heard a growl begin to grow deep in Jacob’s chest, I was so tightly pressed against him that I could even feel his throat starting to vibrate. I turned my head slowly and looked at the Volturi side of the room. Aro was standing up, looking at Carlisle, his face was composed but again I could see the burning enraged fire in his eyes, I squeezed Jacob’s neck tighter. What if I lost him today? What if him coming to save me led to his death?
It would be my fault.
The thought clawed at my mind and shot knifes raking across my skin. I tried to focus on Aro, tried to keep away the tainted thoughts. Stay strong. Stay strong. I had been able to keep my head up this whole time and I wasn’t going to stop now. Aro took a step forward, and I noticed a small cowering vampire behind him, touching his cloak.
“Carlisle, I’m surprised….coming here to kill me and my dear ones?” He held out his hands as if heartbroken. I peeked at my family. Carlisle was stepping forward, flanked by Emmet, Jasper, and my dad.
“Aro, do not play innocent. We are not here to play games. You had kidnapped two of our family members and we have come here to bring them back. We will not harm you or your coven if you give them to us peacefully.” I was surprised; Carlisle’s face and voice held one of the calm, peaceful demeanor he usually had. He looked angrier then I had ever seen. I peeked over and saw Marcus was looking down at his hands, his face twisting with emotions that wouldn’t agree with each other. Part of me wanted to go over to him and comfort him….but my arms wouldn’t even budge from around Jacob’s neck. I bit my lip and another sob rolled through me, this one wasn’t because of hysterical grief though. No, it was because no matter what happened today I was going to lose Marcus. Aro laughed softly and shook his head at Carlisle’s acquisition.
“Ah, old friend, surely you know we meant no harm you dear Renesmee!” He laughed again at the seeming absurdity of this. “Now, I know my friend that you oppose the way me and my coven live….and sometimes I’m sure you see us as the enemies. But that’s not who we are, Carlisle.” Here his voice grew soft. I wasn’t sure what to think about this…my only thoughts were scrambled and disjointed.
“My friends, all of you, who we are here and what we are….we are the protectors of all vampire kind. We see to it and the peace and balance of our way of life is protected. It is us who keep you all safe.
So can’t you see, my friends, that at times we must take back from those we give so much to? Sometimes it is necessary if we wish to keep building our defenses, to keep protecting all of the vampires of the world? We mean no harm and no ill feelings on to any of you, and I know that sometimes the separation of loved ones is hard….but you should consider it a sacrifice for the greater good.” I felt numb. He was saying that my abduction was….was for the good of vampires?
No. He couldn’t. No.
Jacob was snarling quietly in my ear and I pressed my cheek to his forehead.
“Shhh…it’ll be okay.” I murmured. Then, suddenly, it hit me. It will be okay. For them. I could do something.
None of them had to die.
The idea blossomed quickly and my heart started to accelerate. I could do it. My family, my friends, my Jacob…I could protect them. No one would have to die today. Although, I thought with a sickening jerk of my stomach, I would have to die. My heart wouldn’t stop beating, but still part of me would have to die to do this. I would have to be like Marcus had been, numb and unfeeling. I bit my lip, I would have to do this at the right moment…maybe it would work out…maybe I could go home…..
“Aro as I told you before we will not leave without Renesmee. If it comes to a fight then so be it.” Carlisle said, his voice cool. My heart dropped. No, it wasn’t going to work out. I had to do it now. I turned my face and pressed my mouth to Jacob’s ear, lowering my voice so that I couldn’t be overheard. I didn’t have much time.
“Jacob, I love you so much. I will love you for as long as I live and I promise that no matter what happens that will never change. And-“ here I had to swallow a sob. “And I ….I will always…you will always be my husband…..so….so please promise me that you won’t try and stop what I’m about to do. Please. For me. Don’t stop me and don’t’ get hurt. Tell my family I love them, alright? I’m sorry.” I took a shaky breath and then stood up and looked into his eyes. They were torn, confused, but I knew that he wouldn’t resent me my last wish. Our bond made denying each other anything hard, but I knew Jacob would be able to if he really wanted do. I just hoped he wouldn’t.
“I love you.” I whispered. Then I turned and faced Aro. This was the right thing to do. Everyone but me could be safe, and even I, though I’d have to live my own personal hell, would be relatively unharmed. I would make sure my family wouldn’t come back.
Too bad they were all so damn stubborn.
I sighed and then clenched my fists. I had to try. I would try. I would do my best to save them.
“Wait, Aro.” I called out, my voice cold and inflectionless already. A whine escaped Jacob and pain clenched at my chest. I heard my family gasp. Aro turned to me and smiled.
“Yes, dear Renesmee?” He asked with false sweetness, the anger still smoldering in his eyes. I took a deep breath and focused on Aro’s face. If I looked at Jacob or my family my resolve might waver.
“I’ll make you a deal.” I said quietly. Aro’s eyebrows raised, I could tell he was intrigued, the greed in his sparking.
“And what might that be, dear Renesmee?” He asked. I could hear murmurs coming from my family’s side. I bit my lip and fought the urge to look at them.
“I…I will join you. I will become a member of the Volturi. I will be loyal and do whatever you ask me to. I will become the perfect guard member. But...” And here I paused. Aro was staring at as someone would stare at a prize to win. Hisses and cries erupted from my family. But I ignored them. “But you will let my family go. You won’t harm them at all. They will be able to leave peacefully. If that happens then you will never be so pleased with a guard then you are with me.” I took another step forward and then held out my hands to Aro.
“Here. See. I mean every word.” I waited as Aro smiled and took a step forward he placed his hands on mine and closed his eyes. I took a deep breath and looked over at my family. My dad was staring at me, his eyes pained and probing at the same time. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
[i]DAD![i] I whispered in my head. I had to say it now, and it was fine that Aro was listening, that would solidify the truth of my deal even more. My dad’s eyes widened and he nodded slightly to show he was listening.
[i]Dad, I’m sorry about this. I’m sorry that you had to come here and try to rescue me for nothing….but it has to be this way. I was happy when I thought I might be rescued….but I can see now that if any of you fight for me you could die. I can’t let that happen, dad. Please. I love all of you so much…so this is the better way. Aro has what he wants, he won’t come to hurt you….and, dad….don’t…try to come back for me, please. I…I think probably Chelsea will make me loyal to the Volturi, I mean really loyal. I might not be the same….I might be like Marcus so don’t-[i]
My long winded mind-speech was cutoff when my dad’s eyes flew open and his head whipped over to Aro. What? What was going on? I glanced at Aro and saw that his expression was focused…almost like…almost like he was trying not to think of something. Was that it?
“Marcus!” Edward shouted. I gasped, what was he [i]doing[/i]? All the vampires, and I mean all of them, seemed to be thinking along those lines too, because their heads swiveled to look at my dad. My mom was looking at him as if he was half crazy. He might be. I turned my head swiftly to see Marcus looking at my dad with a confused expression on his face.
“Marcus he’s lying to you! About Didyme. It was him. He killed her.” My dad cried. My body went limp. Didyme? Aro…..killed….Didyme? I whipped my hands out of his and scrutinized Aro’s expression. His face was clear and surprised, but I detected a hidden emotion buried deep in his eyes.
“My dear brother, I do not know what our young friend Edward means! I would never want anything to happen to Didyme. She was my sister and I loved her dearly, you know that.” My body, which was just thawing out, turned completely numb once again.
Didyme…was Aro’s sister? Marcus blinked slowly and then shook his head as if trapped in slow motion.
“I don’t know what you are talking about, young one.” Marcus said finally, his voice tight. My dad gritted his teeth.
16. Battle (Part 2)
“He’s not thinking about it right now so I can’t see the exact story….but it was there….the lies, the motives….he’s lying to you! It was all a lie. Didyme…she…was…a….liability...or...no….something about you too going…away?” My dad seemed to picking as many minds as possible to find the story. My mind was reeling. I believe my dad…of course I did. He wouldn’t lie about something that could kill us all. But that was only part of my thoughts. The other was the fact that Aro had killed Didyme. It was Aro’s fault.
“Edward, I am ashamed that you would talk about something so painful. You are hurting my dear brother, and it pains me to see that. Please stop or I will have to have someone stop you.” Aro’s voice turned icy at the end. I bit my lip. I had two options; one, I finish my deal with Aro and watch my family walk away forever. Two, I pick at this Marcus thread and hope for a miracle.
Unreliable. But so tempting.
“Marcus, please. Believe us…Maggie!” My dad turned to the red-haired vampire and motioned her forward. “Maggie can tell if someone is lying or not. Am. I. Lying?” He said directly at Maggie. Maggie stared into his eyes for a long second before shaking her head.
“No. He’s telling the truth. The lie is from the Ancient.” Maggie said, and then cringed as if this would cause her to be immediately burned. Caius snorted.
“Oh, of course. Edward’s ally is saying that he’s telling the truth….how believable.” I looked over at Marcus, his face was torn, half defiant, half confused.
“Why should I believe an enemy?” He finally said, his voice harsh and cold. I flinched. There had to be a way to make him believe…..what had triggered the thoughts in Aro in the first place? I had said his name…and…..
Of course! Chelsea…the one who could knit alliances together would the the perfect key for Aro’s plot. If Marcus was shattered by Didyme’s death then how easy would it be for Aro to force him into absolute loyalty. That’s why Marcus had been so dead. He lost his reason for life and yet this...force drove him to follow Aro.
To follow his love’s killer.
I cut my eyes at my dad. He nodded when he read my idea and then tilted his head at Marcus. [i]Believe an enemy [/i] he mouthed. I raised an eyebrow…then it hit me. Marcus wouldn’t even try to believe my dad.
But he would listen to me.
“Marcus. Don’t believe an enemy if you don’t want to. But believe me. It fits, Marcus! It all fits! Aro couldn’t lose you! So he took out Didyme! If he cared so much for her then why would she die at an attack? The Volturi always conquer their foes….why would she be the only casualty?” I called out. Marcus’s head snapped to me and his expression shifted through unreadable emotions as I spoke. Finally he looked away from me.
“Don’t get involved, Renesmee. All of this is a lie.” I made a frustrated growl and I frantically scrambled for an idea. Suddenly this wasn’t just about me and my family. This was about Marcus. He deserved the truth. I glanced at the small brunette vampire that I knew to be Chelsea, she seemed timid and scared. A thought flashed across my mind. What if there was a way to break her bonds? Maybe….maybe…..I looked over at my dad and flashed through the plan. My dad nodded tersely. It was a very, very risky plan.
Could it work?
They would need a distraction. I closed my eyes for a second and tried to tune out the buzzing that had become the Volturi’s conversation. It sounded as if they were preparing for a fight. Dammit!! I should have just stuck with the deal….no. I had to think…distraction…distraction. Then it came to me and my eyes flew open. What was the best distraction for vampires?
I listened to the steady beating of my heart. I had human blood. I could be a distraction. I glanced at Aro’s annoyed face. His eyes were black. Good. That would make this easier. I brushed my fingertips against my arms and grimaced. Of course. Vampire skin. Impenetrable as stone. I tapped my fingers against my thigh and tried to think. How to draw blood? I brushed my tongue against the inside of my cheek and smiled; the skin inside my mouth was soft. One of the genetic quirks I had. I took a deep breath and peeked at my dad. His expression was pained but he nodded. I took a deep breath and then darted in front of the Volturi. I steeled myself and then sucked in my cheeks so that they were sandwiched between my teeth. I counted to three and then bit down. Hard. It hurt. Tears sprang to my eyes and a whimper bubbled in my throat. I swallowed it and then opened my mouth. Blood dribbled to the floor, making patterns on the dull rug. There was a common intake of breath and I peeked up to see the Volturi watching me with hungry eyes. I spit out another glob of blood. Come on, dad….I saw Felix shift, his eyes torn between thirst and the desire to kill. Well come and get it, big boy. I shifted back on my heels and then bit down on my cheek again. More blood. Some guards shifted closer. Aro raised his hand, and I knew he was about to say something. But it was too late, because it was then that I felt the wind as someone passed me. I closed my eyes but I heard the scream, heard the snapping. When I opened my eyes my dad, Emmet, and Jasper were surrounded my guards, their arms full of Chelsea. But, suddenly, everyone froze. I watched as a strange look crossed each and every member of the Volturi’s (excluding Aro and Caius) eyes. Was this the effect of Chelsea’s death? Were the bonds severed? I turned my head and looked at Marcus. His eyes were unfocused. But before I could talk to him Aro snarled. I whipped my head around and saw that his face had finally broken into fury.
“How dare you?!” He cried. He stabbed a finger at my three family members who were now in a very compromising position. “Kill them.” He hissed. The guards were still frozen…but slowly they started to move. Felix was first. He lunged for my dad, but missed my inches as my dad blurred out of his line of attack. My heart stopped. No. A fight. My fault….my fault…my fault….I was broken from my half delirious thoughts when a harsh voice snapped through the room.
“Stop.” I turned and saw Marcus staring at us with a new fire in his eyes. My heart soared with hope. Maybe there was still hope.
“What are you talking about, Marcus?” Caius growled. Aro clenched his fists and then let his expression sink back into calmness. The group that had been attacking my dad, Emmet, and Jasper, had halted momentarily at the sound of Marcus’s voice once again turned back to my family.
“Aro! Call them off and speak to me.” Marcus hissed. I was stunned. I had never heard Marcus like this. His very voice rang with emotion….had Chelsea’s voice unlocked the vat of emotions? Could he see the truth? Aro had turned to face him.
“What is it you wish to speak of, dear brother?” Aro murmured. Marcus raked his eyes across the side of the room that the Volturi (and my three family members) converged. My breath slowed until it barely whispered from between my lips. I allowed myself to glance at Jacob and Seth. They were standing side by side and exchanging glances. I knew they were probably thinking along the lines of “what the hell?” I swallowed and turned back to Marcus. Please make this right.
“Chelsea did bond me. I can feel it. The weight lifted off my shoulders. The chains that tied me to you have melted away…..I can think clearly….” He cocked his head to the side as if examining me. “I haven’t felt this way since Didyme died.” He narrowed his eyes and I saw a shudder pass across his features. I could barely imagine what he must be thinking. After all these centuries his forced loyalty had fallen away. And now he was faced with a new fact that perhaps his greatest ally had killed his wife.
How much true loyalty remained?
“Marcus, how can you accuse us? Your coven, your brethren?” Aro had the perfect look of shock. I glanced at my dad, but he wasn’t there. Neither were Emmet and Jasper. I looked over at my family and saw them standing in the front, Chelsea’s body scattered at their feet. Wow. That was fast. I wonder if I could run to them…what would Aro do? What would the guard do? Although right now they seemed occupied with Marcus. My heart was beating crazily as I studied the situation that I had a feeling was really starting to get out of hand.
“I want to know the truth, Aro.” Was all Marcus said.
“Why would you believe such a horrid rumor, Marcus? And one that is so cruelly blamed on me. Really, Marcus, I am surprised.” Aro shook his head and then turned to Caius. “Please, dear Caius, tell him that he is mistaken in his claims.” Caius sighed and rolled his eyes.
“I agree with Aro, Marcus. I can’t believe you are considering challenging us. Just because of this rescue party. Why don’t we just kill them and then be rid of this whole mess?” Crap. This had gotten way out of hand. I needed to do [i]something[/i]…but what? I bit my lip and looked over at my family. My mom was in her classic legs-slightly-apart hands-spread-a-few-inches-from-her-side that meant she was shielding, my dad was reading everyone’s mind which I could determine by his glazed look, Emmet and Jasper were in defensive poses, ready to fight or run, and Alice, Rosalie, Carlisle, and Esme were flicking their gazes between Marcus, me, Aro, and Caius. The rest of the vampires behind them were very still. I swallowed and steeled myself for Marcus’s reply.
“I don’t know who to believe anymore, Caius. I just know I’m being lied too.” He narrowed his eyes as if he was questioning something, then his eyes flickered to me for a second. I smiled back. His lips twitched and then his glaze moved back to Aro. “For it is true that Edward would have reason to lie to me. But I can see some truth in his words….some holes in the story you told me about Didyme that I never was able to look at objectively because of Chelsea…” He trailed off and then sighed. “Tell. Me. The. Truth.” He finally said. Anxiety crawled across my skin and I looked over at Jacob, he was looking over at the other members of his pack, I was sure he was starting to make strategy plans. Suddenly I felt very small. Here in the no man’s land in between my family and the Volturi. Jacob and Seth converged in a corner closer to my family. The closest one to me was Marcus. An idea struck me then. I coiled my muscles, ready to make the greatest leap of speed I could, anything to get as far away from Aro without brining any kind of danger to my family. So who could I go to?
My muscles loosened and I soared through the air until my feet fit the carpet with a muted thud next to Marcus. I straightened up and looked at Aro’s face. I enjoyed the look I saw; his careful mask of calmness was starting to fade again. Maybe in anger he would break.
“Marcus, I will not tolerate this anymore. I cannot see why you are suddenly doubting us. I have told you of Didyme’s unfortunate demise.” I felt like I was in a giant game of ping-pong, the annoying human sport that Paul liked to play, the ball was ricocheting back and forth between Aro and Marcus. But who would finally drop it? I looked over at Marcus’s face, I could see deep in his eyes there was confusion. Over what? His loyalty? Didyme? I could feel that this game was coming to a deadly end, but who for? Maybe all they needed was a referee…
“Marcus. How could my dad know about Didyme? How could he know about the details of her death? Please, Marcus. Believe me. I’m not lying, I wouldn’t lie. Not to you.” I whispered, not even looking at him. I knew probably everyone could hear me. But whatever, that was fine.
“Marcus, decide now who you believe.” Aro said, his voice deadly soft. “Who you are going to fight with.” Marcus was quite for three-hundred heart beats, finally he spoke his voice was very soft.
“Why did you do it?” He murmured, his forehead creased as if he was trying to figure it out himself. My heart skipped a beat and I heard my family behind me talking amongst themselves. Aro’s eyes turned to steel and I flinched automatically.
“Does this mean you are siding with the enemy now, Marcus? That you are betraying your coven? I thought better of you.” Aro seemed almost beyond fury…or maybe that was just him. Cold fury. His entire presence seemed like ice. Caius rolled his eyes in disgust and then flicked his fingers in front of him. With a whoosh of wind the Volturi guard was in front of the two Ancients in a stony line. My breath snagged in my throat.
The battle was going to begin.
I shrank against Marcus and bit my lip. The only literate thought that came to mind at this moment was; crap.
“If this is all true, Aro. Then I have not betrayed you. You have betrayed me…betrayed all of vampire kind. Can’t you see? See what we’ve become…..we’re supposed to be peace-makers but instead we have become corrupt. What we do now is just power hungry. We’ve killed and taken because it benefited us. Not because it was right.” He shook his head and looked at Aro. “I’ve been so blind.” He murmured. I looked over at him and felt a smile spread across my face. He had done it. He had broken Aro’s chain. Suddenly I felt cold air blow on my back as if someone had opened the door and let in a draft. I turned and saw that all my friends and family had moved to stand behind Marcus and me. In one second I felt arms wrapped around me and I was sobbing into my mom’s hair. It was like another bubble had formed around me, I was enveloped by my family, their smells and familiar voices. But just as quick as it happened everyone was gone and back in fighting position. I wiped my tears and then turned to face the Volturi. I wanted to avoid this. Had tried to avoid this….but maybe some things are really inevitable.
“I am sorry that it has to this, Aro. But I have tied to your by false loyalty for so long I did not see what we had become. It is time for the Volturi to change.” At this point he eyes Jane, Alec, Felix, and Gianna significantly. A smile curled across my lips. Bye-bye, Felix. “If any of you wish to start a new Volturi, one who will help our vampire brethren then you can join us.” Marcus said, weighing each word. My smile turned into a frown; if I had to spend any time with Felix I’d kill myself. Although I saw that Marcus was not looking at Felix. He was looking at Demitri. My eyes widened. Of course. The vampire who was inexplicably in love with Kokoro. Demitri stared at Marcus for a long second before looking past him. I knew he was imagining Kokoro because my dad made a startled sound in the back of his throat. Yeah, tell me about it. Marcus held out his hands and Demitri closed his eyes for a second, then in blur of movement he was standing in front of us.
“Master.” He murmured before turning to face the people who were once his allies. I didn’t even want to look at Aro, but I heard his snarl.
“If this is how you want to end it, then it’s your wish.” Aro hissed. Suddenly I wasn’t on my feet anymore. One minute I was waiting for the attack and then the next minute I was streaking from the room on the back of…against wolf.
“What the hell, Jacob?!” I squealed as he hurtled through the large doors and then whipped around, pushing them closed before letting me slide off his back. I glared at him.
“Why did you do that?” I asked. He rolled his eyes as if it was obvious. Oh so I can’t fight for myself anymore? “What about your pack?” I blinked and then snickered as if my question amused me. I guess this should be interpretated as “they can handle it” I sighed and then shook my head, it was impossible to stay angry at him. Jacob stared at me for a second and then nodded his head as if he wanted me to step back. My eyes widened; he was going to phase. I tripped back a few steps and then closed my eyes, waiting for the shimmering warmth that happened whenever someone phased. I felt it blow across my cheek like a kiss. Every muscle in my body was tight, waiting. I heard a familiar deep chuckle that sent warmth oozing through my body. Suddenly I felt the large warm arms I had craved wrap around me, pulling me closer to his body. My eyes flickered open. His face was inches from mine, I traced every curve with my fingertips drinking in every second. I felt so safe. So whole. I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned my face closer to his. Our lips met. It felt like I was floating. All the sadness, pain, anger, confusion, and worry that had eaten away at me for the last three weeks was gone, replaced by the overwhelming sensation of kissing Jacob. I never wanted to break away. But all to soon Jacob pulled back just a little, our noses touching.
“I love you.” He whispered. I closed my eyes at the thrilling bliss of hearing his voice again.
“I love you too.” I breathed. Suddenly a lump rose in my throat and tears started spilling from my eyes. I wrapped my arms tighter around him and buried my head in his neck, sobbing wordlessly. Jacob stroked my hair and kissed my forehead.
“I’m so sorry, Nessie. I can’t believe I let them take you. I’m so sorry. I love you.” I shook my head and tried to stop crying.
“D-don’t’ blame y-yourself. I’m j-just glad that y-you’re here.” I blubbered into his shoulder. He laughed softly and then took my head between his hands, raising it from his neck to look in my eyes.
“Of course I’m here. Being without you was torture, Nessie. I went practically crazy….your dad had to actually restrain me from coming here as soon as we figured out what happened.”
“How did you find out?” I asked. Knowing that I’d get the whole story later.
“That J guy slipped a hint to your mom.” He said with a grin. I smiled; I knew it. The mention of my mom slapped reality back through my bubble. Jacob saw my face change into panic and he sighed.
“They’re going to be fine. Please don’t worry. I’m sorry I took your you of there, but I couldn’t handle having you in anymore danger. And….” He leaned down and kissed me again. When we broke apart Jacob grinned at me. “And I was kind of looking forward to that.” I smiled and then kissed his jaw.
“What do we do now? Wait? I’ll die of an anxiety attack.” I said. Jacob chuckled but held me closer; making it clear waiting was exactly what we were going to do. I sighed and laid my head on his shoulder.
The seconds ticked by with agonizing slowness. I could hear the battle through the thick door. The snapping, metallic noise. Hisses, snarls, gasps. And then the distinct sound of Emmet’s booming laugh. At least he was enjoying himself. I listened for twenty more minutes, clutching Jacob closer to me every time a snap reverberated through the doors. What would I do if I lost someone? No...no…I couldn’t even think about it. Suddenly, everything changed.
It was silent.
I stiffened and then tried to pry myself from Jacob’s arms and over to the door. He grabbed my wrist and tugged me back.
“No, Nessie. Wait.” I shook my head and pulled on his hand. “Please, can we just check? I can’t handle this.” Jacob sighed and then walked over to the door, keeping me behind him. He opened the door a crack and then peered in. I felt like I was going to vomit, I was so tightly wound. He opened the door wider and then pulled me closer to him. I looked into the room and gasped. Piles of vampire parts littered the room. My head whipped around, I saw all of my family. They seemed unharmed. Although with a sickening lurch I saw Emmet was missing a finger. I looked around more and saw that my friends were still standing as well. Zafrina was tall and straight, smiling vaguely. Her sisters wore similar expressions. The Denali’s, the Irish coven, Tia, Benjamin…all of them seemed unharmed.
Was this possible?
I stepped into the room and then gasped again. Aro, Caius, and their wives were standing by the thrones. Their expressions frozen with shock. Marcus stepped closer to them and then shook his head
“I will spare your lives. I have lived with you as my brothers too long to kill you right now. Yu can suffer with the knowledge that I spared you while you didn’t spare Didyme. And you can look out across the wreckage that was once your empire of lies.” Then he stepped back, done with them for once and all. I felt a bubble of home rise in my chest. We had won.
We were safe.
Suddenly an idea struck me and I ran across the room in a blink. I stood in front of Aro and smiled.
“You know I could pretend to feel sorry for you. But I’m not. You deserve this. You turned into a monster, Aro. Now you get to reap the rewards. I hope you have forever to think about this.” Then I held out my hand. “But before that, I think you have something that belongs to me.” Aro was numb for a second, then he reached into the folds of his cloak and withdrew my wedding ring. He dropped it into my palm. I was about the slip it on my finger when a warm hand pulled me back from the broken leader. I turned and saw Jacob smiling at me. He took the ring from my hand without words and then slipped it on my finger.
“Love you forever.” He whispered. I was about to reach up and kiss him when I was crushed in a hug from my entire family. I closed my eyes and let myself melt into my family.
I was finally home.
17. Going Home
FINALLY EVERYONE STEPPED BACK AND I WAS ABLE TO TAKE IN THEIR FACES. MY HEART SWELLED WITH JOY
as my eyes touched each of them.
“I can’t believe it.” I murmured. It was true, my family had stood up against the Volturi and won. I kept waiting to wake up and realize I was back in my cell waiting for Marcus to come so we would talk. Marcus….I peered through the crowd of my family and saw him staring at the wreckage around him. I decided to leave him be for the moment, he was obviously having some kind of epiphany.
“You know what I can’t believe? Your outfit.” Alice replied. Of course. My dad tried to elbow her in the ribs but she dodged and stuck her tongue out at him.
“Hey, you think I’m happy about his? Gianna picked out my outfit from some punk’s suitcase.” I grumbled. My dad looked up.
“So Gianna kidnapped you?”
“And Felix.” I shuddered at the memory. My dad growled sharply. Emmet took a step back and grinned at me.
“Happy as I am to see you, Ness, I have to go find my finger.” He loped off into the room and I blinked. Only in a family of vampires. My mom grabbed my face in between her hands and kissed my forehead.
“We’re so sorry, Renesmee. We should have been with you….if we had been there we could have killed them then instead of letting you go through this.” I smiled and rolled my eyes.
“Don’t beat yourself up, mom. I’m…well, I’m glad it worked out like this. We saved Seth. And the Volturi were overthrown.” My mom’s eyes flickered, and I knew that she too was shocked by the way things had happened. Esme reached out and put her cold hand on my cheek.
“Are you hurt at all?” She asked, her soft voice concerned.
“No. I’m fine…although Seth wasn’t…he was badly hurt.” I turned to see the wolf Seth sitting down while Leah was staring at him no doubt mind-lecturing. My dad glanced over at him and his eyes flickered the length of his body.
“I think he’ll be okay. Carlisle will be able to clean to clean out the worst of the wounds when we get home.” Home. The word sent shivers of excitement up my spine. I was going home. Back to Forks...it was almost too good to be true
“Well I hope we can get home soon because now that Nessie is safe I have allot of wedding work to do.” Alice said, her thin eyebrows crinkling together. My mom rolled her eyes and then took a step back.
“I think we should try to get home soon too. I know our friends probably want to get home as well.” I looked up and saw most of our friends laughing and talking, probably reveling in the fact that they had destroyed the Volturi. I looked across the piles of bodies, my stomach twisted queasily when my eyes snagged on familiar pale brown hair. Looks like it was Jane’s turn to burn.
“I want to go thank them.” I said, my mom nodded and then took a step back, allowing me some room to move. I took step forward, feeling Jacob wrap his hand around mine as I started walking over to the group of our allies, that was good; I didn’t want to leave him either. When we neared my friends Carmen turned and cried out.
“Oh, Nessie!! Mi querida! I am so glad you are safe!” She ran up and gave me a hug, I squeezed her back, so happy to see my friend again. Tanya and Kate joined her in a minute and I blubbered thanks to all of them (of course I was crying again).
“Oh don’t thank us, we really enjoyed ripping up these maggots.” Kate said in an offhand manner. I grinned and then broke away from the hug to wave to Zafrina.
“It is good to see you again, child.” Zafrina said as she blurred to my side. I smiled at her and then gave her a quick hug. In a flash we were in the middle of a jungle. I smiled, enjoying our old game. I showed her the forest outside my house in the winter, the snow was glittering in the sun but it was outshined by my mom and dad. Zafrina responded with a desert landscape, this I replied back with a waterfall. I stepped back, out of the illusion to grin at Zafrina.
“It’s so good to see you, Zafrina.” I said. She smiled back and nodded. “It’s good to see you too, Nessie.” I thanked and hugged the rest of my saviors before turning to look at Marcus, he was standing next to Demitri and they were talking very fast, their lips forming the words as lighting fast speeds. Demitri seemed upset almost, his face drawn as if he was in pain.
“Why did he stay?” Jacob asked, following the direction I was looking at.
“The human secretary here….well, she fell in love with him...and he loves her too.” Jacob’s eyes bugged out.
“Seriously? I thought was something only Bella would do.” I elbowed his ribs and then cocked my head as I studied his face more closely. It really did look as if he was in pain.
“He was very close to Felix.” My dad murmured, having heard my thoughts and running over to where Jacob and I stood. I nodded, so that was it….poor Demitri.
“How could a Volturi member fall in love with a human? I mean doesn’t he drink human blood? That’s just crazy.” Jacob grumbled. My dad seemed thoughtful at this.
“From what I can read of his mind he wasn’t even conscious about falling in love with Kokoro. He had the job of watching over her in the first weeks to make sure she didn’t run away. Apparently this made him very protective of her…and also, whenever he’s around her, he feels very calm and peaceful. It’s like she’s a safe harbor for him.” I thought this was very sweet. But I think Jacob muttered something about “Hallmark card”.
“Still, he looks really upset….do you think he regrets fighting alongside us?” I asked my dad as we neared the side of the room where the four remaining Volturi members stood in statue-stillness while guarded by Emmet and Jasper. The wolves and the rest of my friends were picking up the pieces of the vampires and piling them up. I turned my head and then ran my tongue over the gashes in my mouth. They were still oozing a little and I winced, trying to clear my mouth of the tangy residue. The only thing weirder then drinking blood while it pumped through your veins, was drinking your own blood. My dad turned to me and caught my chin in his hand. Ah, right, he could hear what I was thinking. Probably even feel the pain I felt as my tongue snagged my wound’s rough edges.
“Open up.” He demanded, I sighed and then opened my mouth so he could peer in, Jacob joined him and I saw him shudder.
“Jeez, Ness, was this really necessary? I mean you could have just bit your cheek a little bit…or better yet not at all.” Jacob muttered as my dad examined the cuts. As I couldn’t say anything in this position I just rolled my eyes in Jacob’s direction. Finally my dad was done and he took a step back.
“They should heal up soon…you may want to treat them in case of infection when we get home.” I nodded along, but when he got to the end I got more alert.
“When are we going home, dad?” I asked. My dad was about to say something when my mom suddenly appeared at his side.
“Soon. Probably today, we should talk to Marcus first though.” She said, turning to look at the loan black cloaked figure. I nodded and started walking toward where Marcus stood, I wanted to talk to him too. What was he planning to do next? How was he feeling? Marcus turned when we were a few feet from his and his lips flickered into a small smile when his eyes met mine.
“I’m glad to see you are unharmed, Renesmee.” He said softly. I smiled back. “You too.”
“The Cullen family is eternally in your debt, Marcus. You saved us today, and helped Renesmee when we could not.” My dad said, bowing his head respectfully. Marcus waved away my dad’s words with a flick of his wrist.
“Your debt is already paid. Renesmee has given me back happiness. And you all helped free me from my false chains of loyalty.” He sighed. “It saddens me that the empire I worked so hard to build soured so….and dead as I was to the world I was able to do nothing to stop it. I have been locked in my head for centuries now, only doing anything when Aro needed me. Despair over Didyme’s death blinded me from the fact that it was Aro who had killed her.” He shook his head morosely.
“I never understood exactly why he did it.” My dad said quietly. Marcus looked over our heads, his eyes blank. I was sure he wasn’t seeing the room anymore, but a distant memory.
“I can only guess…for Aro will not answer any of my questions, as you saw. But I believe that when Didyme and I planned to leave the Volturi, to go off on our own, Aro decided to intervene…I remember…he gave us his blessing…that night…I proposed to Didyme….then one week later I lost her forever….I was more valuable to Aro then Didyme was. By removing her he was able to keep me…or my talent really…..” For one brief second deep, crushing, agonizing, grief flashed into Marcus’s black eyes. For one second I was able to see exactly how much pain Marcus was in, then just as vast as it had came, it vanished, his face once again composed.
“What are you going to do now, Marcus?” I asked.
“I am going to start the Volturi anew. Over time I will filter in more of the old guard, but only those I know can be trusted to change. For example, Jane will never be coming back. But perhaps Felix someday could be of use….I will have to keep them all under a close eye until I can be sure.” My eyebrows rose without me telling them too. What was he saying? Was that why no one had started to burn the bodies? Demitri must have told them while I was drinking in my family happiness….
“You mean….you’re going to bring some of them back?” I hissed. I couldn’t believe it…weren’t they call corrupt? They didn’t have any Kokoro to keep them good like Demitri. Marcus smiled briefly at my obvious discomfort at the idea.
“Only a few. Many, I know, will never be able to come back.” I nodded at this. Knowing there was no plan to put Jane back walking on this Earth was a huge relief.
“Do you plan to let anyone know of the change in power?” My dad asked. Marcus shook his head.
“I’m sure the vampire grapevine will take care of that for me.” He said, and then, much to my immense shock, he laughed. It was a soft sound, like rustling pages of a book instead of the usual bell tone. I glanced at my mom and dad and saw that both of them wore my expression of shock. Marcus seemed to realize this and he laughed again.
“Sorry. Did I startle you?” This time I laughed.
“Yes, you did.” I said. Marcus smiled back at me and then his gaze flickered over to my dad.
“I’m sure you are anxious to get your coven home. Please do not stay any longer then you need to. I will be able to handle everything here.” My dad nodded and then laced is fingers through my mom’s.
“We will be leaving as soon as possible. I just wanted to make sure that you needed nothing more from us. We wouldn’t you or Demitri to be in any danger.” Marcus shook his head.
“It will be fine.” Marcus said. My dad said something about going to talk to our friends about leaving, but I wasn’t really paying attention.
I was going to leave Marcus.
The thought brought a strange mixture of bitter sweet emotions. On the one hand, it meant I was going home. On the other it meant that I wasn’t going to see Marcus, probably for a long time. He seemed, once again, to sense what I was thinking, because he reached out his hand and patted my cheek.
“Don’t be sad, Renesmee, I’m sure we’ll meet again soon. And thank you. You have given me more then you will ever know.” I smiled back at him, trying to swallow the lump that had formed in my throat.
“Thank you Marcus, I wouldn’t be going home without you.” Then, on a sudden whim, I leaned in and gave him a hug. He smelled like the old books in Carlisle’s study. It was comforting smell. Marcus was frozen for three heartbeats, then, very slowly, he wrapped his arms around me. I smiled, letting a ear slip down my cheek. It dawned on my suddenly that I was leaving part of my family behind. By strange, unexpected circumstances, Marcus had become my family, too.
I loved him.
I pulled away from the hug and then let a grin spread across my face.
“And you’re right, we will be seeing each other again soon. If you think you’re not coming to my wedding you’re sadly mistaken.” Marcus seemed taken aback for a second, then a smile broke across his face.
“I suppose I’ll be there, then.” Jacob took my hand in his and grinned and Marcus.
“Just don’t bring anyone else. One Volturi member is bad enough.” I elbowed him in the ribs and he chuckled. Marcus laugh too. I was struck by the oddness if the moment. Here I was, laughing with my shape shifter fiancée and a centuries old vampire who just a few months ago was my enemy. But I supposed that it was just the way my life was going to be. Full of surprises.
“Nessie! Jake!” I heard my mom call. I turned and saw her beckoning us over, I guess it was time to go. I turned and smiled one last time at Marcus before running with Jacob towards my family. I knew that Carlisle, Esme, and a few others would want to talk to Marcus, but I was ready to leave. To get into the sunlight. Jacob seemed to be thinking the same thing, because after a quick explanation to wolf-Sam, he let me keep running. I didn’t know if anyone followed us, I didn’t care. Jacob and I ran through the twisted maze that only hours ago had been my prison. But I was free now. My only goal was to make it out of this building, the sudden burning all consuming urge to breathe in fresh air and feel the sun’s warmth on my skin was intoxicating. But as we neared the lobby a new thought struck me. Kokoro.
“Wait.” I slowed down and Jacob matched my new stride. He looked towards me and raised one of his thick black eyebrows.
“What’s up?” He asked.
“Kokoro, I think we should talk to her about this, I mean I know Demitiri’s going to tell her but he could take awhile to work out everything down there and I want to let her know because she was so sad and-“ My hurried speech was cut off when Jacob put his large hand on my mouth.
“Okay, okay, I got it, Nessie. No need to blabber on.” He grinned at me. I kissed his pal and then started walking.
“Come on, slowpoke.” I teased. Jacob chuckled and then grabbed my hand in his, so fast that I didn’t have time to react he whirled me around to face him. In one swift moment he leaned down and pressed his lips against mine. Once again I was hit by the sheer magnitude of how much I had missed him. Now that I was here, pressed against him with my arms around his neck, I could tell just how much my heart had ached every second I was away. He pulled back a little and his warm breath caressed my face as he laughed softly.
“I never knew exactly how painful it would be to live without you, Ness. I never, ever want to do it again.” As he spoke his lips moved against mine.
“You’ll never have to.” I whispered, then I gently ran my wedding ring’s glittering gems along the back of his neck. “Remember?” He grinned and then kissed me again.
“Of course…it’s hard to forget. Especially when my fiancée brings it up as she’s about to sacrifice herself to the Volturi.” At the end of his speech his voice got a little harder. I blushed and ducked my head.
“Sorry about that. I just…couldn’t see any other way….I’m sorry I caused you pain.” I said. Jacob sighed and tilted my chin back up with his chin.
“Don’t apologize, Nessie. Just promise you won’t do something like that again. You make it so damn hard not to give you anything you want…even if it’s something I’d rather die the let happen. So just don’t do it again, alright?” I rested my head on his chest and smiled.
“Trust me, Jacob. I will never do that again. It wasn’t really all that pleasant for me.” Jacob sighed and then laughed. I stayed in the protective circle of his arms for a minute longer before sliding my hands down his arms and taking his hand.
“Let’s go, I want to see Kokoro and I need to get outside.”
“Sure, sure.” He replied offhandedly before starting to walk. I snorted and swung our hands in between us.
“It’s funny to think about getting married, isn’t it?” I asked, again struck by the oddness of discussing my future while surrounded by the dark walls of the Volturi’s palace.
“Yeah, I guess it is. Might be stranger if it was with someone else though…anything that involves being with you is easy, Ness. I’m really not overly concerned…although when Alice starts going nuts over the plans I might get worried.” I laughed and squeezed his hand.
“Don’t worry about it; hopefully she won’t go too nuts.”
“Did someone mess with your head while you were here?” He teased. I was about to reply when the familiar gilded hallway swum into focus. The familiar dread pierced my stomach and I shuddered lightly. Jacob let go of my hand and tucked me under his arm. I took a steadying breath and let myself melt into his side. We passed the secret entrance into the killing room. Passed the door that led into the throne room. Passed other doors that I had never entered, and I never planned too. We came to the end of the hall and I pushed lightly on the door. It swung open and I peered into the generically cheerful waiting room. Kokoro was sitting at her desk, her arms were crossed on the wooden surface and her face was nestled in them. Her long silken black hair was fanned out around her. At first I thought she might be sleeping but then her head snapped up and whipped around d to face us.
“S-s-orry, so sorry I was just….please, p-please don’t hurt me…oh.” Her half babbled speech was cut off when she realized it was me and not a member of the Guard. Her breathing slowly returned to normal as the panic leaked from her black eyes.
“Sorry we startled you.” I said with a soft smile. She scrutinized Jacob and her eyebrows knitted together.
“Who….what….is he?” She whispered. Jacob laughed under his breath beside me.
“His name is Jacob, and he’s my fiancée….and er…” I trailed off.
“I’m a shape shifter, but I usually go by the term werewolf.” Jacob finished casually. Kokoro’s eyes widened but then she shook her head and muttered something that sounded like “…why am I even surprised?” Jacob chuckled.
“What happened? I saw…vampires…and huge wolves…running…were they your family? Did something happen?” She asked, her already pale face turned white with fear. For Demitri I was sure. I took a step forward and laid my hand on her shoulder.
“It’s okay. He’s fine, and you are free.” Her eyebrows pulled together.
“What…do…you mean?” She whispered. I could see the sparks of hope in their black depths. She wanted to believe she was free, but I knew she couldn’t see a way.
“My family defeated The Volturi. Marcus is in charge now, and Demitri is safe. You can do whatever you want now. No one is going to hurt you.” Kokoro stared at me for a long second before shaking her head.
“That’s…not…possible...is it?” She seemed like she wasn’t allowing to herself to hope.
“Go see for yourself. “ I prompted. Kokoro’s eyes seemed unfocused, as if the truth was to absurd to comprehend. Then, suddenly, her face became determined.
“Thank you, Renesmee. Thank you so much.” Then she started running. I didn’t turn to see her disappear down the hall, but I could hear the door slam and feel the cool air blow a few curls over my shoulder.
“Well that was interesting.” Jacob said. I laughed and nodded, my focus already drifting to the outside again. My mind was so full of different emotions I was having a hard time focusing on anything for too long. Dad would have said I was acting like a Newborn.
“Let’s go, Jacob. I haven’t seen sunshine in so long!” Jacob’s eyes tightened but he smiled and pulled on my hand.
“Hey, you know the way out of this friggin’ place better than I do.” He said. I laughed and started running again. Sunlight. I needed sunlight.
I could smell the outdoors before I reached the heavy wooden door. It smelled fresh and the air was cold, mixed in I could smell some spicy human food and a flowery perfume. Adrenaline surged through my veins and I pushed myself even faster. I hurtled into the door, pushed it open with a flick of my wrist. Then I was outside. I came to an abrupt stop and closed my eyes. The sunlight warmed my skin and I inhaled the sweet, cold air. Freedom seemed tangible in this moment. I could feel it, taste it. I felt like a weight I hadn’t been aware of had suddenly been lifted of my shoulder, all my worries seemed small and insignificant this perfect moment. I would never have to fear the Volturi again. I could be with Jacob forever. I wouldn’t lose my family. They were all safe and unhurt. My eyes flew open and I saw Jacob staring at me, his black eyes soft. I curled my arms around his neck and kissed him. The kiss was long and sweet. When we broke apart for air I laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Jacob asked, smiling at me.
“I’m just…so happy.” I shrugged. “Maybe I’m a little delirious.” Jacob kissed my lips lightly.
“Well if you’re delirious then so am I. I thought I’d lost you, Nessie. This is one of the best days of my life, now anyway.” A new warmth spread through me, this one had nothing to do with the sun.
“You’ll never lose me, Jacob.” I whispered. Jacob grinned at me.
“You can bet on that, Ness.” I put my hand on his warm neck and pictured our home. I’m sure Jacob could feel my crushing desire for the picture. He chuckled and took my hand from my neck and turned to look as a few of my friends and family started to trickle from the building, melting into the shadows for fear of the sun’s ray’s revealing them.
“Well we have a hotel stop first so these vamps don’t give themselves away with their diamond skin.” He said. I sighed but nodded. Just a little longer….home would always be there. In the overcast town of Forks, Washington. Always waiting for me.
Thank you for your story. I got the warm fuzzy feeling at the end! I was wondering why Bella didnt use her "shield" when they were in the throne room? But, you made it all work out. Great Job. thanks for putting so much into this....cant wait to see what else you've got!