The Twilight Saga

Edward and Carlisle are missing, the place they were seen last nothing but ash. Adding to the chaos are rumours of terrible creatures, which the Cullens are sure have taken their family members away from them.
It's time for answers, it's time to hunt.



OK guys, Equinox hasn’t left my thoughts at all and I still intend to complete it in due time. However, I also have another story bouncing around in my head and I want to drop it by you guys to see what you think of it.

It’s in Renesmee’s POV right now, but the story would also include Edward’s and Bella’s too. Enjoy!

XD :D XD

 

Riding the Firebenders

“This Is It”

    I ran through the forest, the wind howling in my ears and branches pulling at my hair, catching the curls that streamed out behind me as I flew on light feet. I wasn’t quite
as built for running as the rest of the family and my breath was coming in fast
gasps, but I held my own. My heart felt like it was going to explode out of my
chest, it was beating so fast, but my exertion wasn’t the only reason for its
increased rate. The nerves battered at me savagely, making my stomach twist and
turn as well as making my heart race.

    Looking to my left I saw my Mom running alongside me. She looked glorious; her lithe and graceful form reflecting the dangerous predator she was. As if she could feel my eyes on
her she turned to look at me, flashing me a smile that I didn’t believe for a
second. It was too strained, so I knew she felt the same as I did, this just
wasn’t natural.

    Next to her my Dad ran, his gait longer than hers but just as graceful. His facial expressions had changed so much that I couldn’t work out how he was feeling; his hard green
eyes only remained locked ahead of him as he ran.

    To my right was Esme. She ran just as gracefully as Mom did, however she always looked so much more human and right now she wore her worries plainly on her face. Carlisle was
running beside her, his gait slightly off due to his injured leg. When he
walked there was no obvious limp, but right now his running was clumsy at best
and I would imagine he was in pain. However, he had remained running with us
all to keep up a united family front. His facial expressions were now as hard
to read as my father’s, but his body language suggested that he felt the
complete opposite to me, which was an unsettling change.

    Finally, right behind me, his russet fur brushing against my side, was My Jakey. As I turned my head to face him, his infinite brown eyes met mine. Reflected in them I
could see all of his worry and concern, which caused my stomach to harden into
even tighter knots. However, there was also a light in his eyes: a light of determination.
I heard him growl lowly in his chest, not an aggressive growl towards anyone,
but growl of anticipation of what was to come.

    Taking a deep breath I pushed back my fear and tightened my resolve. This was the only way. They had to agree to this; the
Mythical World was at stake and we needed these ancient, pig-headed vampires on
our side. Despite the grief they had caused my family, we needed allies. And
strong ones too.

    Over the sound of the rushing wind, a voice called out:

    “This is it! I can smell them on the wind!”

    Carlisle growled and he was responded to in kind my most members of our family, as well as the packs.

    “There’s a clearing ahead!”

    Pressing forward, our group tightened formation. My Dad and Carlisle broke off in separate directions, no doubt to execute the plan and flank. Dropping back a little, I
felt myself surrounded by Jasper, Emmett, Seth and Jake – just as a precaution;
we didn’t think they would dare attack – as we finally burst out into the
sun-filled clearing.


Tags: Bella, Cullens, Edward, Nessie, Renesmee, Twilight, family

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Riding the Firebenders

Chapter 1: "Hellfire"

Edward

Letting the drained doe slump to the ground I sucked in a breath of air I didn't need and let it out in one long, contented sigh.

It's been eight years since my daughter Renesmee's birth and she is now fully grown. Her romance with Jacob Black blossomed nearly a year ago now and they are getting ready to get married in the spring. I'll be the first to admit that it took me a long while to accept my little girl had grown up; it seems that every time I look at her I see the small, vulnerable little cherub she once was. I'm also a little ashamed to concede that it took a heated discussion with Jacob for me to finally 'let her go' as it were. She is still my little girl, only now I have accepted that she doesn't need my constant protection anymore.

No father likes to hand off his little girl to another man, but when it comes down to it I would accept nobody else other than Jacob. After all if you don't have a vampire father for a bodyguard, what better replacement than a horse-sized wolf?

A trill of quiet laughter to my left caused me to turn.

"You sound like you enjoyed that son."

My adopted father, Carlisle, came out of the trees then, readjusting the collar of his shirt after having a similar run-in with another separate deer. Seeing this tousled version of Carlisle - with the top buttons of his shirt undone and hair almost as messy as mine - was extremely rare, it was almost funny. I chuckled in response to his question.

"Well I can't exactly enjoy anything other than blood can I?"

"No, I guess not." He conceded with a smile.

After living in Forks for most of Nessie's – Jacob's pet-name for my daughter, which stuck – short childhood years, we inevitably had to move. This time, we chose to move north into Canada, close enough to Forks that visits from Charlie and communications with the La Push pack weren't impossible, but far enough away to not be recognised by the public around us. We had taken up residence in British Columbia, on the outskirts of a town called Whistler. Whistler is near the Garibaldi Provincial Park, so there is no shortage of animals for us to hunt for our 'vegetarian' diet.

I returned the smile before setting about burying the carcass in the loamy ground, Carlisle had already buried his and waited patiently for me to finish.

Carlisle was the father of our family in more ways than just being a 'father-figure', in actual fact he was the creator of myself, Esme, Rosalie and Emmett and then I had changed my wife Bella: we are connected through venom. Alice and Jasper aren't 'related' to us in that way, but they are as much a part of the family as any of us.

One thing which has gotten less common in recent years was the opportunity for Carlisle and me to just spend time in each other's company, noone else's. If there was one thing I miss from those early years where it was only he and I, it is those hunts we had together. We both have mates now, as well as Carlisle's job as a doctor and Renesmee, which kept us busy in one way or another to prevent us from reliving those times. Time on our own is rare now, so we had seized the chance when it came up.

Carlisle had just finished his shift and was in his study reading some book or other while I was in the living room, curled up with Bella on the couch. The rest of the family had gone out on a brief hunting trip before Carlisle returned and Renesmee and Jacob were getting ready to go out for dinner. It was purely by chance, as Bella shifted slightly to place her head against my chest, that I caught a wisp of Carlisle's thoughts I had otherwise not been paying attention to. In a rare twist, he had been reading a fiction book as opposed to his usual medical journals – one of the Sherlock Holmes books I believe – and Watson and Holmes were just discussing that they were 'brothers in bond but not in blood'. Inspiration had hit me and we had soon set out on a weekend hunting trip.

I hated to leave Bella and my body screamed at me to remain with her in my arms, but I wanted to prove something to myself. Even Emmett and Rosalie managed to find the restraint needed to not be constantly in each other's pants throughout the day after a few years, though admittedly their physical relationship is still quite mind-boggling at times. After eight years of still being hopelessly in love, my brothers have started to take to teasing me about my 'clinginess' to Bella and vice-versa for Bella with Alice and Rosalie. At first we stoically ignored them all, but after a rather lustful incident in history class the previous semester, Bella and I agreed that learning to un-stick ourselves from each other was a bit of a must for during the day. After all, Carlisle and Esme spend hours at a time away from each other and are still very much in love, so it clearly wasn't as impossible as it felt.

Sometimes it is hard to describe my relationship with Carlisle. I would like to say that Bella is the one who knows me better than anybody, but that isn't exactly true in all cases. There are some parts of my past nature that I prefer to remain hidden, and only Carlisle knows of them; he understands some things about me that I would never and have never willingly revealed to anyone else. For that reason, he is my confidant of sorts. He also has the calmest mind I know, and one of the kindest. His thoughts are measured and calculated, as a result of being much older than the other minds I am always in the company of. His mind seems to have found a sort of balance, he generally thinks about the same things, but knows how to prioritise them, hence his calm outer demeanour. Outwardly, Carlisle only has a mild English accent, dragging out 'oh' and 'ah' sounds slightly. But in his mind his original accent rings true, as is to be expected. It may be more due to the period I was born in, but English is a lot nicer to listen to than American English. All this means he acts as a kind of calming influence to me, despite his lack of unique powers like Jasper.

I couldn't think of a better man than Carlisle and I am proud to call him my father, but sometimes I just enjoy his company more as a best friend or an older brother. This was the entire point of this trip together.

Straightening up I nodded towards Carlisle and we set off running again. We weren't actively hunting on this trip, but if we ran across anything we took the chance to take it. We did a lot of talking about meaningless subjects, but the main thing we did was run.

Vampires are made for running, I more so than others. I can easily outpace the rest of my family by quite a large margin, but Carlisle, Jasper and Alice are the only ones who can run at a pace that isn't too uncomfortably slow for me while being too uncomfortably fast for them.

We've been gone for two days now and were often out of the range of cell service at times. However, we were now heading in the general direction of home and I had recently managed to call Bella and tell her of that fact. Both of us were beginning to crave the company of our mates and Carlisle was also back on shift tomorrow.

Did you enjoy yourself, Edward?

"I did, we really should do this more often."

Clearly Carlisle's thoughts were similar to mine. I had the ability to hear the thoughts that anyone around me was currently thinking, when we were alone it was Carlisle's preferred method of talking to me.

I agree. We all should make more time for each other; you should do this with your mother sometime.

Spending time alone with Esme again would be nice, but it wouldn't quite be the same as this. Still, I nodded slightly anyway.

We continued running, eager to be home but in no real rush. At one point we came to a small ravine. It wasn't particularly deep, but it was too far to jump and I paused on the edge to contemplate the best way across it. I only just caught Carlisle's thoughts and barely managed to turn and grasp onto his left forearm as he deliberately ran into me. There was a loud clap – as if two large boulders had just collided – and we both tumbled the twenty feet or so to the bottom of the ravine. Somehow I ended up back-to-back with Carlisle, with my face towards the sky and Carlisle's face half-buried in the loam. I howled with laughter and Carlisle had a hard time holding back his own so that he didn't end up snorting pine needles.

"That backfired on you didn't it?" I said smugly when I regained some semblance of control over my laughter, though I continued to giggle.

Admittedly, yes... Would you mind getting off of me so that I can take my face out of the dirt now? I think I have half of the Park's forest soil embedded up my nose.

I fell into laughter again. Who wouldn't? Pranks like this had been common during this trip, though Carlisle was more on the receiving end as my gift gave me an advantage. I liked it when he 'let his hair down', messing around like this with Emmett and Jasper didn't ever get boring, but change like this occasionally was nice.

"Oh, I don't know. I'm quite comfy." I replied as I placed both hands behind my head and leaned right back, as if reclining on a couch.

Carlisle didn't think, he immediately sat up, effectively launching me off of his back. Still laughing I managed to catch myself before I ended up on the floor again, but I still staggered into the wall of the ravine before I could fully catch my balance. The wall shook on impact, dislodging loose dirt and pine needles which rained down onto me. Carlisle took his turn laughing at my expense and I turned to glare playfully at him just as he turned away slightly and blocked one of his nostrils with a finger on the side of his nose to blow out the dirt; he hadn't been exaggerating earlier, they were indeed blocked. I wisely kept another laugh to myself and set about picking pine needles out of my hair. I soon gave up – I needed a shower after the weekend anyway – and followed Carlisle in leaping up the side of the ravine after he had finished clearing out the other side of his nose.

"We look like a right pair now don't we?" Carlisle said as he tried in vain to brush off some of the mud on his pants.

"We do. You could have chosen to try throwing me in the lake instead, at least that would have gotten me clean."

I could have, but you would have expected that. That was a good a chance as any for me to get revenge on you for ripping the top buttons off of my shirt and throwing my jacket in the river.

"You virtually sent my shoe into orbit! I couldn't find it so I think it was fair payment." I wriggled the big toe on my right foot – which was sticking out of a hole in the sock - to emphasise my point.

He shrugged in response. Tie your shoelaces next time.

I opened my mouth to respond, about to tell him how Emmett-like his response just was, when I stopped.

What is it? Carlisle asked, immediately on alert for danger.

Honestly, I didn't know what it was. It was like I was catching wisps of thought, but they kept receding before I could interpret them and then coming back again, at their loudest they were only a weak whisper. It was almost as if something were circling us. I turned my head into the wind and inhaled deeply. Nothing. I tried again with my mouth slightly parted, as a cat would do, but there was still nothing. I hadn't answered Carlisle but he took the hint and remained vigilant, his mental-voice receded so that he was only thinking about his surroundings, allowing me to focus more on picking up strange thoughts.

Carlisle's cell phone rang, making both of us jump.

Before he could even think to answer it a wave of sweet vampire-scent hit our nostrils and, as if falling from the sky, the offending vampire landed in front of us twenty feet away. Carlisle and I growled in harmony as we both shifted into defensive crouches, the strange vampire merely stood up straight with his hands clasped in front of him nonchalantly, not reacting to us in the slightest.

He was clad in the strangest clothes. He wore a long trench coat, which was brown and frayed along the bottom edges and the sleeves; I could just make out the white collar of his shirt above the neckline of the coat. His pants were, strangely, quite smart; but they contrasted sharply with the thick black cargo boots with bright yellow laces that he was wearing. The hems of his pants were tucked neatly into them, which completed his odd image. His hair was just a plain medium brown and his ruby-red eyes immediately told us where his morals lay. Even stranger though was his mind, which I immediately started to probe.

Good, the blonde with golden eyes. Not sure who this other fellow is but he has the same eyes, so he'll do.

Do for what? I couldn't understand what he meant by that so I continued to sift through his current thoughts, waiting for him to think about it.

Is he a threat Edward?

I glanced at Carlisle and allowed my eyes to tighten slightly, the signal for 'I'm looking into it'. Unfortunately the stranger seemed to notice the exchange.

It's the mind-reader! Not quite who we were looking for but it'll be interesting to see how he turns out.

His thoughts became illegible as he started mentally chanting in a language I didn't recognise. I growled, what made him think he was going to have me? Or Carlisle for that matter? And how the hell did he know what my power was? The way he dropped from the sky was strange too, but maybe that was his power? I had seen stranger ones.

"Who are you?"

I demanded as I shifted my body towards him threateningly. He didn't even flinch, but we had an advantage here: two versus one. The constant ringing of Carlisle's phone was irritating me, but Carlisle wasn't going to answer it right now.

"You don't need to know that, but I'm interested to know who you both are. Are you part of the coven who feed exclusively on animals?"

He was up to something, I knew he was. I growled in response but Carlisle stayed me with a hand on my shoulder, he was stood straight now.

Easy Edward, maybe he's just curious? The more vampires we can educate on our lifestyle the better.

I highly doubted that he was 'just curious', but there seemed to be no harm in talking. If the guy tried anything I would be on him in a moment. I straightened up also and Carlisle took a step forward, though still keeping a sizable gap between us and the stranger.

"That's correct, we are. I am Carlisle and this is Edward," he indicated towards me over his shoulder. "We have a permanent residence with the rest of our family near here. What brings you to the area?"

Carlisle's questions were rehearsed, ones he always asked to be polite. They also usually had the added effect of allowing me to scan the thoughts of those he asked for hostile intentions they weren't revealing, but unfortunately this individual seemed aware of that. The scenario screamed 'danger' at me, but there was only one of him so I was reluctant to call him out on his elusive thoughts.

"Carlisle... hmm..." He seemed to be thinking something over, but I was still only getting the gibberish opera. "Thank-you Carlisle that is all I needed to know."

Then, just like that, there was fire.

Fire is a vampire's bane, the only thing that kills us. Vampire venom is highly flammable, making fire our greatest physical fear. The fire came out of nowhere in a rush of wind; it didn't hit us, but the flames created a barrier on the other side of the ravine, blocking our backward escape route. Both of us yelled in surprise and skittered away from the heat slightly before realising that we were heading closer to the strange vampire and stopping.

"Did you do that?" Carlisle shouted over the roar of the flames.

His eyes were wide with fear and surprise – I'm sure mine mirrored his – but he was unmistakably angry; this attack was entirely unprovoked.

"No, I didn't." The vampire didn't seem to be afraid of the flames in the slightest. "But you will found out soon enough."

Several things happened at once. Carlisle reached into his pocket, no doubt to answer the phone. At the same time the strange vampire reached into his trench coat and in a blur of movement pulled something shiny out of an inside pocket. The bang that resounded took me by surprise but I was even more stunned when Carlisle was thrown violently backwards, once again falling to the bottom of the ravine behind us. I was astonished to find that the strange vampire was holding some sort of large handgun, the end of the barrel was smoking slightly and he had a wicked grin on his face.

Leaving Carlisle's cell ringing on the forest floor where it fell I leapt back into the ravine to my father. Turning him over I then immediately leapt backwards and yelled in horror.

There was a bullet-hole in his head.

I covered my mouth with my hand in disgust. The bullet had gone right between Carlisle's eyes and had then exited through the back of his skull, the offending bullet was buried in the wall of the ravine and Carlisle wasn't moving. The dancing light of the flames distorted the colours, but I could swear the bullet was white.

"Vampire-teeth bullets," I looked up to find the strange vampire stood on the edge of the ravine, casually reloading a new bullet into his weapon. "They easily penetrate a vampire's skin when fired and if you know where to hit them, the trauma can render them either incapacitated... or unconscious."

He grinned at me as he spun the reloaded cartridge cylinder of the gun with a flourish.

"You bastard!" I virtually shrieked at him.

Flinging Carlisle's limp form over my shoulder I started running along the bottom of the ravine, which was the only escape route left open to me. It didn't last long though because I had barely gone a hundred metres before more fire sprung into life, blocking my path. It seemed to have come from somewhere above me and I looked up to try and find the source but I saw nothing, only swirling smoke. I whirled about and tried running the other way, at the same time pulling out my own cell phone. More flames sprang up in front of me and this time I could swear a dark shape shot across the sky in a gap above the trees. The smoke from the spreading forest fire now rendered the sky almost black and I coughed slightly at the acrid smell of burning foliage.

I could feel myself trembling; we were surrounded on all sides but one by flames now. If there were ever an afterlife for vampires this is just what I imagined hell to be like. Darkfire. Hellfire. No escape.

I looked up as the strange vampire came into view through the smoke. He was leisurely walking along the very edge of the ravine while spinning the gun around on his finger; he had known all along that I wouldn't get away and was taking his time, despite the roaring fire I could still hear his boots crunching the pine needles under his feet as he approached.

I knew I was at his mercy. Even if I could dodge the next bullet he shot at me he was bound to have more and in order to dodge I would have to abandon Carlisle, no chance of that happening, I could never do it. He also obviously had someone backing him up, so if I tried attacking him it wouldn't do any good either; it was now I who was the one outnumbered... we had been all along.

"Tut-tut Edward, delaying the inevitable." I growled at him, despite the futility of it. But he ignored me. "Don't worry; you're furthering a good cause: the salvation of all humans. I thought that was what your coven always wanted?"

Thoughts of Bella streamed through my head: her eyes, her lips, her kiss, her body against mine... What was this vampire going to do to us? Would I ever see her again? Renesmee? My family?

Looking down at my cell I hit the first speed-dial number my finger came to, hoping to warn them; they had to stay away, this guy and whoever he was working with were much too powerful. However I had barely started to lift the device to my ear before I heard the bang. Then, the last thing that went through my head was agonising pain, which caused my eyesight flash white... and then fade to black.
oh....my....god....this is brilliant!
Thanks guys!

XD :D XD
this is AWESOME i LOVE it!!
lol loved their playtime haha great writing too and oooooooomg the drama!! I'd write a longer comment but it would turn into an essay coz i'd have to write a paragraph about everything! just know that this is AWESOME and YOU HAVE ME TOTALLY HOOKED!!!
Lol, I don't mind essays; I often find that's what I end up writing if I get around to adding comments to people's work, hence why I don't often comment. So if you want to write long comments in the future, don't be shy to.
Another thing I don't mind in the slightest is constructive criticism (about grammar and spelling mistakes especially, urgh I already spotted three in this chapter and I can't change it now), so don't be afraid to point out anything to improve either.
I'm babbling though (See? Essay), thanks a lot for the comment and I'll update as soon as I can: Bella's POV of the family's reaction next!

XD :D XD

Oh, whoops. I totally forgot about this story... well, writing in general to be honest. That's what University does to you! XD

In case you didn't get an alert, I've added the next chapter - though it may be the only one for a while now. But on saying that, after reading through the chapters I've got a slight urge to write again... but I'm not gonna start tonight.

 

XD :D XD

Whoops... Sorry guys! XD

I'm at University now, so that means I haven't done any writing whatsoever for a long time and it doesn't look like I will for a while yet unless the fancy takes me there. However, Ashley asked me when I was going to update and I remembered that I had written the next chapter before I put this on on hiatus. So, without further ado, here it is.

 

Riding the Firebenders

Chapter 2: "Poses and 9B Pencils"

Bella

Moving had been hard.

Deep down, I knew it was the only way and that it was necessary. Heck, if we hadn't moved eventually people would realise that we weren't aging and then we'd be in a whole heap of trouble. This way, we at least remained close enough to Forks that Charlie could still visit, instead of having to disappear off of the face of the earth due to unwanted investigations that could uncover more than we were willing to reveal.

My darling Renesmee had taken moving away the hardest. She loved her grandfather immensely, even if he didn't know that she truly was his biologically. He loved her back, doted on her even; it was impossible not to fall in love with Renesmee, which had proved to be a very good thing. But it made goodbyes all the more difficult.

In fact, if I'm being honest, I didn't take it too well at the time either.

Edward was my rock in those few months around moving time. He had moved many times in his lifetime and I daresay he's used to it by now. It was my first time, so it was more than a little bit of a shock. He assured me that what I was feeling was normal; considering that I actually was leaving people from my human life behind whereas most of the Cullens hadn't. He also said it would get easier. The prospect of forever scared me at times – it still does – but if I am sharing it with him, I don't care.

Settling in hadn't been as hard as I feared it would be. Esme – bless her heart – took meticulous care in making sure that the new house was as much like the one back home as possible. On the one hand it made things worse by reminding me what we had left behind, but at the same time it reminded me that it had been just a house, that all being together counted for so much more.

I was still in contact with Charlie wasn't I? I still had my family didn't I?

Yes I did, and that helped me through it.

Edward had left with barely a quick kiss, which had made me feel slightly cheated. However, I know how much his time with Carlisle means to him so I held back my selfish thoughts and plastered a smile on my face until he left. I had scowled like I were a kicked puppy afterward though and never was I gladder for my shield covering my thoughts from his mind-reading powers than I was then. The need and longing burned into my gut like it was an acid and I had to fight to keep from running after him.

I felt shallow; shallow and selfish. I wanted nothing more than for Edward to be back in my arms again... I always did have trouble letting go.

The rest of the family – including Renesmee and Jake - arrived home a few hours later and I immediately told them where Edward and Carlisle had gone. Alice had already told them of course and she had given me a knowing look immediately.

If anything else, that only made me feel even dirtier for my feelings and I quickly sought to bury them.

I had thought about spending the time with Renesmee, but I didn't want to be a third wheel between her and Jake and make them feel awkward, plus they were starting to settle down for the night anyway. So, I settled into a comfy armchair and started reading my favourite book; Wuthering Heights. Usually the familiar characters soothed me, but all it did was remind me of Edward more, which then started to irritate me. Why couldn't I let him go for a mere few days? Maybe it had something to do with the Volturi's visit and the constant worrying they caused, but I deliberately stopped myself from dwelling on that subject for long.

A quiet chuckle from Jasper on the couch opposite me drew my attention from the book I wasn't reading.

"You're almost as bad as he is you know." He said without looking away from the screen of his laptop.

"No, I bet I'm worse."

He gave me a reproachful look as he no doubt felt my emotions swirl. "OK, maybe you can be. Angst really doesn't suit you."

I groaned at that, this wasn't making me feel better. I looked at him hopefully but he laughed quietly again and shook his head, for once refusing to manipulate my emotions. I fought to hold back my disappointment but I knew he could feel it.

"There are no shortcuts in this one Bella; you have to complete the whole thing."

I sighed, and Jasper seemed to get more out of that sigh than I could ever have put into words.

"Don't worry darlin', you just have to come to terms with the feeling of separation. The fact that you're spending time apart from each other doesn't mean that you love each other less; it just means you are growing as individuals. It's a sad fact, but Edward can't be around you all of the time in this game we're playing. In fact, I'm extremely surprised that he's coping with it better than you are, usually he's such an ass to be around when he goes hunting with Emmett and me."

I couldn't imagine Edward being an 'ass', but then who knows what guys get up to when they're on their own? Besides, knowing that Edward had as hard a time dealing with it as I did was comforting in a way.

Putting the book on the stand next to me, I decided to get my wayward moods away from Jasper; God knows how uncomfortable it must be making him. We had bonded ever since I had been changed, during the few other times I was away from Edward, I often sat reading with him; he was never quick to judge and preferred silent companionship to words which was often nice when I wanted to get my thoughts in order. But stewing in my thoughts wasn't helping today so I wanted to talk to someone, and I knew just who to go to.

"Where's Esme?" I asked, and Jasper quickly nodded his head upwards.

"OK, thanks." I rose from my chair and made my way towards the stairs, though on the way I called back over my shoulder. "Oh and thanks for the pep-talk Jazz."

His musical laughter trilled once more. "Anytime Bella. Besides, your mood was really dragging my day down, so it was in my best interests."

"Gee, thanks. And here I was thinking that it was because you cared about my feelings." Though a genuine smile remained on my face as I made my way onto the upstairs landing, with Jasper's laughter once again in the background.

Hurrying along the corridor towards Esme and Carlisle's room I listened to the sounds of the house, pinpointing instantly where everybody else was with my excellent hearing. Rosalie was fiddling with the cars, adding some adjustment or other to their already prodigious engines while Emmett looked on; I didn't even want to know what was going through his mind. Alice was skipping about in her own room, probably planning something or other which I should probably be dreading. Renesmee and Jacob were asleep in their rooms, tired after their day out. I could hear Esme humming to herself, so I hoped I wasn't disturbing her. Her humming didn't stop as I got closer, yet I knew she could hear me approaching, so I was just thinking of turning around when she called out.

"Come on in Bella."

I did so, shutting the door quietly behind me.

Carlisle and Esme's room was about the simplest in the house, which I felt made it the most welcoming besides Edward's and my own. The walls were white, with natural coloured bed sheets and accessories. However, there was the odd brightly-coloured vase here-and-there with beautiful flowers in them, a selection of wildflowers which Esme picked from the surrounding area, giving the room pleasantly floral scent. Esme herself was lying on the bed propped up against the pillows, busily drawing something on a sketchpad at human pace while still humming a merry tune to herself.

Not wishing to intrude on her quiet-time but curious as to what she was drawing I walked across the room and perched on the end of the bed. She immediately stopped what she was doing and looked at me with a beautifully loving smile.

"Oh, please don't stop what you were doing for me Esme..."

"No it's alright, I was nearly done anyway." She put the sketchpad and pencil onto the pillow next to her and sat up straight, crossing her legs Indian-style and leaning on her knees. "You know you can come see me whenever you want."

I was going to reply but I was busy looking in awe at the picture she had drawn. It was a beautiful lily; magnificently detailed, almost looking like the real thing only in black-and-white. I didn't think I could ever produce something as beautiful as that, even with a vampire's memory and grace.

"That's beautiful." I murmured, indicating towards it.

"Thank-you dear, it's just something I do in my spare time."

"How long have you been working on it?"

She thought for a moment. "About five hours in total, though it's not all been in one sitting. I tend to draw a bit and then come back to it later, though I've been working on it for an hour now."

"Why don't you draw at vampire speed?" I had a vague idea why – it wouldn't be satisfying if she finished it in ten minutes flat. But I couldn't understand spending so long on one piece of work... then again that's probably why in the past mine all looked like they were drawn by somebody in kindergarten.

In answer, Esme picked up the pencil she had been using and handed it to me. I studied it closely and with my superior vision could see that the lead was very brittle, it reminded me of a smaller version of shale.

"That's a 9B pencil, the softest one besides using charcoal. It's brilliant for deeply contrasting shadows and highlights, but it can be a pain to work with."

She leaned back again and picked up her sketchpad, tearing out a clean sheet of paper from behind the picture before setting it on the bed between us and gesturing for the pencil. I gave it back to her and she gently ran it across the paper, holding it at a very flat angle and producing a very broad stroke. Watching the pencil move across the paper with my eyesight was fascinating; I could see the millions of little shards of graphite crumbling from the point and being left behind. She was only applying the minimal amount of force so I had no doubt that the tip wouldn't be as effective for drawing if she moved too quickly, it was too weak and would break. Once she had finished Esme then held up an index finger in demonstration before she lightly brushed it across the line of deposited graphite. She ran her finger back and forth a few times until the graphite was distributed into an equal layer, three times as wide now compared to what it was before.

"You have to be careful not to lean your hand against the paper you've already drawn on or you could end up smudging it and ruining the picture, either that or leave irritating fingerprints which never really fade fully even if you try and erase them." She held up the black pad of her index finger before wiping it clean on a cloth that was tucked into her pocket. "It takes practice, but its well worth it when you get the hang of it. Do you want to try?"

I blanched, I would just humiliate myself. Esme saw my reaction and laughed, always a lovely sound.

"Don't worry Bella, I'll teach you. I wasn't all that good at first, but you just have to keep at it."

Before I could protest Esme was leaning towards a bedside table. She pulled open a drawer and drew out a few more pencils – some slightly harder than the 9B she had been using – as well as another sketchpad, which she handed to me.

"Now, what you have to learn first is the different strokes to use..."

Esme then proceeded to show me the different methods of shading and smudging, patiently coaching me on the best ways to produce highlights and lowlights, as well as creating different textures such as hair and using pencils of varying hardness. Despite my initial trepidation, I eventually found myself engrossed in this new challenge set before me. What made it even better, was that my enhanced senses did little to improve what I was doing; in fact the increased strength actually made it more of a challenge. I made the right choice in coming to Esme, I lost almost all sense of time eventually and my nagging worries about Edward were pushed to the back of my mind where I could pay less attention to them. But I still wanted to voice them and get some advice, so eventually I plucked up the courage to do so.

"Is this what you do to take your mind off of things?" I asked tentatively as she watched me trying to make some windswept hair look believable on the page.

"Sometimes."

"Don't you get anxious?" My words finally spilled out and I paused in my drawing. "It's only been a day and already I find myself worrying incessantly about him, and I keep wondering if he's thinking the same about me too..."

Esme smiled pleasantly at me. "I almost always do, even if it's just for an hour."

Her revelation shocked me and I fight the urge to gasp, she hid it so well! My face betrayed my thoughts though, my mind was shielded but I always wore my emotions plain on my face.

"You forget Carlisle is gone every day, just about. Where he is I can't exactly follow without placing people in danger, so I learnt early on to busy myself during the long hours. Things have never changed and I doubt they ever will; you know as well as I how passionate Carlisle is about his work." I don't think my mind could imagine the feeling of having to sit and wait like Esme did, so I just nodded. "But eventually I learnt to push it back. Because, no matter what happens he always comes home to me; we're two halves of the same whole and nothing will change that. So, what are a few measly hours? We have eternity after all and when he does come home I am never in any doubt as to fact that he loves me just as much as I do him."

I nodded solemnly. Unless I was away from Edward and therefore taken out of my own little bubble, I never truly appreciated how much the other couples in this house loved each other. Edward always said that noone loved anyone as much as he loved me and I proclaimed the same, but we were honestly fools if we thought that was unique. Esme and Carlisle, Alice and Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett... Renesmee and Jacob, they all loved each other just as much; their love's were different to ours, but that didn't make them any less powerful in their own way.

Putting pencil to paper again I set about adding to my petrified doll's hair while Esme went back to her lily. I couldn't tell exactly how long went by – an hour maybe – but eventually Esme finished her picture and I then felt her lean over to see how I was doing. I tried to ignore her, fighting an urge to hide my poor excuse for art. Esme surprised me though.

"I think you're ready for drawing some still-life now..."

I watched as she cast her eyes about the room, looking for something we could sketch. While she was doing so I briefly thought about how romantic it would be if Edward would let me draw him, it would kind of be like Jack and Rose from Titanic... only reversed, I smirked to myself as a warm fuzzy feeling spreads through my body. I may just have to ask him if I can try when he gets back.

I had barely had the chance to get that thought through my head when the door to the room burst open and my pixie of a sister breezed in. Alice and knocking just didn't go together.

"Forget drawing him Bella, you can draw me." She explained without preamble as she pranced over to Esme's vanity and dragged out the bench. "I can be as still as a statue anyway and at least I won't distract you."

If I could blush I would have, as it was I just buried my face in my hands. Everyone knew her meaning and I could hear a ripple of quiet giggles from various places in the house before they controlled themselves. Esme was the only one who didn't laugh, but when I finally looked up at her, her lip twitched once or twice.

I was expecting any day now for Emmett to demand an arm-wrestling rematch, at the moment the original deal we had struck still stood. However, now that I was eight years old my newborn strength was completely spent, I had ended up as the weakest and the slowest vampire in the family. Emmett would beat me easily, and I just knew what he would demand as his spoils for winning; my sex life would be in constant threat.

Putting the bench a few feet from the end of the bed, Alice then daintily sat down on it before looking expectantly at Esme and me.

"How about a pose, Alice?" Esme asked as she lay down on her stomach on one side of the bed, her feet resting on the pillows and her sketchpad and pencils in front of her. I mirrored her position next to her so we could both get a good view of Alice.

"OK, how about this?"

Alice swung her legs so our view of her was side-on, wrapping one arm around her waist and resting her other elbow on her knee, before finally leaning her chin on her hand and looking contemplative. I fought back a laugh; she looked remarkably like a more petite version of The Thinker.

"No, that's not right... try something else."

Alice scowled at me before changing poses again. Standing up, she put one foot in front of the other and rested her left hand on her forward knee, then held her other arm straight behind her.

"Oh, I know that one! The Discus Thrower!"

Alice actually growled at me. Esme had her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking with the laughter she was trying to hold back. A bemused Jasper was stood in the open doorway; no doubt he had been wondering what all the amusement was about. Alice must know he's there, but was stoically ignoring him.

"I'm trying to pose so you can improve at drawing Bella, not play a game of charades." She sat down again with a humph. "Though I'm starting to think I should impersonate your personal statue instead, maybe then you'll stop snickering and start drawing."

Huh?

Then Alice did something I would never have expected. Putting both hands on her head she rubbed them back and forth rigorously, messing up her artfully spiked hairdo while I stared at her like she was the Ghost of Christmas Past. Jasper and Esme were similarly shell-shocked, what was she playing at?

Her hair now looking like she had been dragged through a bush backwards, Alice gave me a challenging look before closing her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose and then leaning her elbows on her knees.

Exasperated Edward. Hands down.

I didn't know what was funnier; that she had tried to mimic her brother in the first place, or the fact that she was actually pretty close. I could feel myself shaking; laughing with Alice was fine, but laughing at her was a death-trap. Jasper had his arms wrapped around his stomach and was leaning against the doorframe, he knew more than most the consequences of laughing at his wife and was holding it in for all he was worth; I didn't envy him having to fight off our feelings as well as his own. I buried my head in the comforter, my chest feeling as if it was going to burst.

Esme cracked first, a little flurry of laughter coming out as a snort as she still tried to hold it back. A snort from Esme, of all people, was what finally broke me. I dissolved into hysterical laughter, Esme immediately joining me. Jasper soon caved as well, sliding to the floor and burying his head into his knees. I knew we were likely waking up Jake and Renesmee with all this noise but I couldn't bring myself to care, or stop for that matter. Alice lifted her head up and tried to glare, but ended up joining the laughter too.

I had the feeling she had set that up for some reason, but I found I couldn't bring myself to care. Meaningless worries about Edward in the back of my mind, I remained laughing until my eyes pricked and my sides hurt.

o0o0o0o0o

Edward and Carlisle have been gone two days now. Edward called and told me they were on their general way back, but he couldn't tell me exactly when. I don't mind. I had spent most of my time with either Alice or Esme, practising my new-found hobby or just spending quality time with them.

It's a weekend, so we were all sat about the house; Jasper reading some sort of war novel and Jacob and Emmett playing a video game while we girls were building a pyramid of cards. We took it in turns to place two cards, the loser was the one whose addition caused the pyramid to topple and the beauty of it was because Renesmee was involved, Alice couldn't see the outcome.

It was Alice's turn, the massive pyramid now stretched along the entire length of the coffee table and was as high as her chest. However, just because she couldn't see what our moves would do, didn't mean we weren't going to fight dirty.

"Are you sure you want to put them there Alice?" I muttered, trying to throw her off with doubt. She didn't answer.

"You might be better off putting them at this end." Renesmee added, while gesturing to her side of the table. Again Alice ignored everyone, moving to place the cards.

"Careful... careful."

Alice's lip curled this time as Rosalie leaned towards her to mutter in her ear. She turned her head, about to give Rose a verbal thrashing, when she paused mid-way, dropping the cards in her hand and causing the whole pyramid to collapse in a whirlwind of laminated paper. We started laughing, but that soon dissolved when Jasper's head snapped up from the pages of his book and in a flurry of air had his arms wrapped around his wife's waist. Alice was having a vision.

Usually Alice had small, quick visions which didn't affect her day-to-day activity, 'like watching a movie on a transparent screen' she told me once. But sometimes she had more substantial visions which caused her whole body to freeze, and these were usually much more important.

We gathered around her, without Edward we would have no idea what she's seeing until it finishes and she tells us herself.

Edward.

I feel a brief flutter of unease, worrying about his safety. Jasper is frowning with his usual concern for his mate, but Alice doesn't seem to be in distress so it can't be a bad vision. Before I can think further Alice's eyes clear as her vision comes to an end.

"What is it Alice? What did you see?" Jasper asks as soon as he feels the tension of her vision-state leave her.

"I'm not sure," she replies as she pulls her cell from her pocket, she doesn't hesitate but there's no urgency to it. "I saw Carlisle and Edward meeting another vampire in the forest, not one I know and it didn't look like they did either."

"Was he a threat?" Esme asks, her face slightly worried regardless of Alice's relaxed tone.

"I don't think so. He was alone and there was nothing aggressive in his posturing. What I don't understand though is that he just seemed to appear; Carlisle and Edward looked startled, but they weren't frightened."

"What do you mean he appeared?" Emmett this time, air-quoting the word 'appeared'.

"I don't know, one minute there was nothing and the next he was there. It was as if he fell from the sky..."

She held the phone to her ear after punching in Carlisle's number. It rang once... twice... three times.

"Why isn't he answering?" Renesmee asks quietly. I look at Esme and she seems as concerned as I feel, though her eyes remain locked on Alice.

"The vision was quite concrete so they may have just met the vampire, Carlisle won't answer if they have."

Alice lowers the phone, about to cancel the call, when she gasps loudly. The phone falls from her hands, only to be caught by Esme before it hits the ground. It's still dialling.

"Alice? Alice!" Jasper exclaims as he tightens his grip around her. Her face is frightened and one hand covers her mouth. Her eyes clear as quickly as they clouded.

"What is it? Is it Edward? Carlisle?" I demand as I take a step towards her.

The dialling tone sounds twice more before she answers, meeting my eyes and allowing me to see the fear there that is no doubt reflected in mine.

"Fire, there was fire. And lots of it."

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