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Burn Beautiful

Summary:
Spoiler warning. Continuation of New Moon. Being a vampire comes with it's own problems: newfound bloodlust, untried strength, neverending fights between natural vampire will and human conscience. Edward and Bella's relationship takes a completely new turn as challenges fly their way. Namely, a pack of furious werewolves and a certain vampire named Victoria, who's still set on vengeance and, this time, gains some powerful followers determined to end Bella, vampire or not, and do as much damage to Forks as possible.


Notes:
I just finished New Moon and I know I SHOULD wait until Eclipse comes out, but I had to do something to pass the time! Especially since I had about a million ideas running through my head, mainly around how much could happen once Bella IS a vampire. What happens with Victoria, werewolves, Volturi? What's her special ability, if she has one at all? How does she go about realizing her ability? How does she deal with vampire instincts? What about her parents? AHH, idea overflow! I've outlined this entire story and it's turning up to be pretty much novel long, which is exciting. I'm not new to writing, I've just never done this particular "fandom" before and I hope I do it justice.


26. Chapter 26

Rating 3.7/5   Word Count 3751   Review this Chapter

Ch. 24: The Last Stance

A low, familiar voice broke me out of my trance.

"You really love him, don't you."

His slightly bitter scent drifted to my nose and I inhaled deeply. My eyes cracked open and I realized that I hadn't moved from my collapsed position on the front porch. The orange clouds had deepened slightly, nearly red…

"Jacob," I sighed, slowly rising to my feet.

"The one and only," he grinned tiredly, carelessly lifting his hands up in greeting. I squinted at his silhouette, hazy against the darkening sky.

"Before you know it, you're going to be twice my size," I noted, trying pathetically to smile as I looked up at him. He had gotten tanner, his dark hair was longer than ever and the warmth glowing from his body seemed to reach out and touch me.

"Yeah," he nodded, serious. "You must be shrinking."

I tried to laugh at his joke, but found myself incapable.

"Sorry," he shrugged apologetically. "Bad time for a lame joke, huh?"

A wry smile reached my lips and I stepped aside so he could walk through the door.

As I closed the door behind him, I caught the little wrinkle in his nose as he shivered his displeasure. His shoulders visibly stiffened as he looked around the parlor.

"I feel like I can get a cavity just by breathing in this house," he commented. "It smells so… sickly sweet. Can't be good for my health."

His eyes slid to the side to meet mine and the corner of his lip rose in an affectionate sneer.

I shoved him.

"Don't let me get started on the way you smell."

"Say whatever you want, B-"

He cut himself off when he saw Alice watching the two of us with a raised eyebrow.

"We should probably get going," he said instead, eyeing her suspiciously. Alice's chin lifted and her lips flattened into a tense line. His eyebrow rose as he turned to me, "Why do I get the distinct feeling that the bloodsucker doesn't welcome me…"

"Guys," I looked from Jacob to Alice, warily. "We're all friends here, remember?"

"Hardly," Rosalie's voice drifted down from the top of the stairs. She glided down to join us, giving Jacob a disgusted look that matched Alice's. "We're temporarily on the same team, working together to fight a common enemy. Friends? I think not."

With that, she breezily walked past us and headed out the door.

Alice stared at Jacob for another long moment before glancing at me and giving me an apologetic smile.

"You know she's right," she shrugged, then looked back at Jacob, "No offense."

"None taken," he rolled his eyes before straightening. "Sam and the pack are by the cliff. They're expecting you."

She nodded and was gone, following Rosalie out into the deadly night that was almost upon us.

I stared at her rapidly vanishing figure and swallowed, thickly.

"Ready?" Jake's voice was gentle and he tenderly pressed a large hand to the small of my back.

I nodded. "Just let me get Esme."

"I'll wait here."

I found Esme in the room she shared with Carlisle, sitting in a chair and staring out the window. The dimming light cast shadows across her pale skin and her usually kind and smiling face seemed forlorn. Her lips were moving rapidly, soundlessly.

In her hands, she clutched a long chain with a gold-rimmed cross dangling down. Her knuckles shook.

"It's time," I spoke softly and listened to the quiver in my own voice.

For a split second, it seemed as if she hadn't heard me. Then suddenly, she was the Esme I was accustom to.

"Time to go, then?" her smile was back and her amber eyes were soft as they settled upon me.

"Jacob's downstairs," I told her.

"Then we shouldn't keep him waiting."

Swiftly, she stood and set the chain and cross she was holding on the windowsill.

The moment we stepped foot into the forest, it became clear that a battle was brewing. The ground vibrated excitedly, thrumming with the tension and the power exuded from ten full-grown vampires in such close proximity with each other. I felt it through my body, current after current of pure power. It was like an adrenaline rush.

The tallest branches of the tallest trees waved back and forth violently, a warning Do Not Enter. There would be no mortals in the forests tonight.

There were no sounds - no crickets, birds, squirrels leaping between bushes and trees. The bears and lions and foxes and deer had all gone hiding.

Jake had already transformed and was running beside me and Esme on all fours, silently, swiftly.

A full breeze blew my hair back and I nearly sighed, relieved. Fortune was with us - the wind was blowing my scent away from the fight.

Thunder was suddenly rumbling from overhead and as a streak of lightening viciously lit the sky and struck down a distant tree, I realized that we had stumbled upon the fight. Or the beginning of the fight.

The weather forecast had predicted clear nights. Dorian's power seeped through my mind, darkening the night sky. The moon had disappeared and along with it, the stars. Winds howled and thick branches from tall trees tumbled to the ground with ear-shattering crashes.

Suddenly, I felt Jacob slow down beside me. We were getting close. I could tell by the way he thrust his nose in the air, sniffing, by the way his ears perked straight up, alert, the way his tail tensed up behind him.

He glanced at me with dark eyes that only I could see. In the shining orbs, there was excited anticipation, but at the same time, there was a message meant for me and me alone.

Be careful.

Edward's voice echoed in my mind.

Be safe.

I swallowed and looked away. I'll try, I tried to tell them, knowing that neither of them could hear me.

"We're here," a deep voice suddenly whispered in my ear and I nearly jumped. Jacob had transformed again and was crouching low to the ground.

Esme and I followed his suit, kneeling behind a rather tall bush. The clearing was about fifty or so meters away. I pushed some leaves aside and felt a rush of relief pour through my body as I made out Edward's rigid form standing next to Jasper's.

They were all there, standing firm and together. Tanya's golden hair blew in the wind and I saw her lift her chin proudly as Dorian gazed at her.

The battle hadn't started yet. Not really. It seemed as if nobody had moved a muscle - a clear line of separation still divided them.

Leaves rustled beside me and I turned to see Jacob leaning forward. My eyes accidentally wandered a little too far south and received a shock when I realized that he hadn't thought to bring extra clothing along with him for his change…

I nearly blushed - if this were a month ago, I would've been beet red - and almost snapped my neck as I looked away.

"What's the matter?" he asked, his mouth too close to my ear for comfort.

"Nothing," I hissed back. He must've realized what was bothering me; I heard a low chuckle from him and felt him shift so he was more covered. I rolled my eyes.

Dorian's voice rang out in the darkness.

"So you will not give us the girl?"

Carlisle's voice was grave: "We will not."

"Very well."

I could almost here the slow smile in Dorian's voice and shuddered involuntarily.

"There is only one rule," he said, his velvety voice thick and ringing. "As to leave out ambiguity, there will be only one outcome to this battle… the last one standing wins."

"Then you want to fight to the death," Carlisle's voice was deceptively calm.

"Correct."

"Then what are we standing around for?"

With that, an uncharacteristically feral roar escaped Carlisle's throat and with one fluid, graceful motion, he leapt at Dorian.

Lightning cackled and then everybody was a blur. Dorian had rolled to the side and snarled, viciously. Felix lunged at Jasper, throwing him to the ground so powerfully that the earth shook. Tanya and Victoria were hissing and circling and Emmett had charged at Iris.

But the only figure my eyes were tracking was Edward's lithe form, running towards Adrien. His movements were smoother than a cat's, his growl was low, his eyes sharp and narrowed. Adrien swung his arm out and Edward bent low, hitting him in the stomach with his shoulder, flinging him against a tree near the side of the clearing.

Adrien's shocked yelp lasted for less than a second before he pushed Edward off and rolled to his feet.

"Bella!" Esme hissed at me, snapping my attention away from my other half. "Emmett! Look at Emmett!"

My gaze shifted and I gaped in horror as Iris froze him. He was in a mid-air attack when she struck and his entire body had iced over. Time seemed to stop completely as his body hovered for one millionth of a second and dropped to the ground heavily.

My mind blanked.

Was I supposed to do something? What was it?

Panic overtook me until Esme pinched my upper arm.

"Use your ability, Bella, please!"

My mind snapped back to focus. Right. My ability - my ability that was so untried that I had no trust in at all. That ability.

Iris took a step back and I saw the wicked, giddy smile on her face as she took a moment to inspect her work.

Focus.

Emmett, stand up.

His body was suddenly stirring and before Iris could turn around to find somebody else to attack, he was on his feet.

Charge her.

She didn't know what hit her.

Pin her.

Emmett's robotic arms were pushing Iris's shoulders deeper and deeper into the ground. Her screams overtook the meadow.

It was only then when I dared to look away.

Tanya's teeth gleamed as she hissed at Victoria. Then there was a blur of blonde and red as the two ran at each other at full speed.

Just two meters away, Edward pulled back his fist and punched Adrien across the cheek with enough force to breath through a wall.

Victoria screamed as Tanya sank her sharp teeth into her shoulder. The redhead brought her knee up into Tanya's gut until she fell over backwards.

Adrien bounded back up from his position on the floor and head-butted Edward's side. They stumbled down and this time, it was Adrien who got the upper hand.

Tanya struggled against Victoria's choke hold around her neck.

Edward jerked back, but Adrien kicked his side, sending him flying across half the clearing and skidding against a boulder.

Tanya punched Victoria off, then sneered, "Can't kill me that way. Forget that I don't need to breathe?" before grabbing a fistful of red hair and yanking so hard to the side that there was a loud snapping sound that overpowered Iris's screams.

Victoria's head was flung to the side and, with her free hand, Tanya twisted her head completely around and let go. Her head teetered for what seemed like eternity until it rolled off her shoulders and came flying to the ground, closely followed by the body.

Then, two things happened at once.

Iris broke free of Emmett and kicked him to the side where he fell, limp, once again.

And Adrien grabbed the boulder that Edward had landed on, positioning it right over his head.

It came crashing down on Edward's face.

My body was trembling and I couldn't stop my legs from straightening themselves. I couldn't stop my feet from running to him…

But Jacob held me back.

"Don't," he shouted, voice hoarse.

Adrien was picking the boulder up again and pounding it on Edward's body once again. My heart was slowly shattering and I couldn't even comprehend Jacob's word.

"I need to - I have to - " my hand reached out and I snarled at Jake when he pulled me against him. "Let me go!"

"No, I wont," he growled into my ear. "I wont let you get yourself killed. Sam's pack is coming right now and - "

"I'm dying," I screamed, snapping my head up to look him straight into the eyes. I was frenzied, not thinking clearly. I couldn't formulate my words, so instead, I said anything and everything that came to my mind, wishing that he would understand.

"Can't you see?" I panted, pleading. "I need to help him. I'm dying, he's dying, he's hurt, can't live… need."

"You'll get yourself killed."

"What's the difference?" I screeched, looking out into the field again. Edward was slowly getting up and it seemed as if every inch of his body was bruised.

Then Adrien ruthlessly slammed the boulder on him again.

"I can't live if he's dead!"

Jake held me still. Still. Still not understanding. He clutched my face with one large hand.

"And I can't live if you die!" he shouted at me.

His words were loud but they were still muted by the rolling thunders created by the darkness of Dorian's mind.

I looked at his face. His pleading face, begging me to not be foolish, not be rash.

Oh, Jacob.

Hours, years, and lifetimes passed that I stared into his eyes. But my lover was out there, dying.

I reached up and held my best friend's face in my hands. He bent his head and I tiptoed up, pressing an urgent kiss to his forehead, his nose, his cheek.

"I'll love you always," I whispered into his ear, "but I gotta go. He needs me."

And with that, I broke free of his hold and rushed into the meadow. Rushed into the middle of the burning pits in Hell. Rushed to my other half.

"Bella, no!" I heard my Edward gasp out as he caught a glimpse of me, but I paid him no heed as I lunged at Adrien.

The boulder dropped from his hands and onto the ground as I leapt onto him. His eyes barely got the chance to widen in surprise before I grabbed his head in my hands and twisted as quickly and as fiercely as I could.

The strength of my old human blood and my newness aided me and right there, right in my hands, right in front of me… Adrien's head twisted clean off his shoulders, just as neatly as Victoria's had when Tanya beheaded her.

I stared.

Shock froze me and I kept staring and staring in horror.

Two strong arms enveloped me and I collapsed into Edward as he held me right there in the middle of battle.

Before I got to revel in the feeling that he was there, alive, or as alive as he could be, a voice reverberated violently through the meadows.

"DON'T!"

All fighting stop and turned to stare at the owner of the voice.

Dorian.

He was staring at Iris and Tanya, the latter crouched down and the former holding her index finger out, her mouth open, curled up into an almost smile that didn't completely form.

Iris turned to Dorian and a look of disbelief clouded her features.

"What?" she hissed.

Dorian took a step closer to them.

"Don't do it," he ordered, a threat dripping from every syllable.

Iris stared at Tanya, who's eyes were widened and fixed on Dorian's approaching form.

"But she's the enemy," Iris protested.

"And I'm telling you to lower your arm," Dorian hissed, his voice soft and deadly.

"Dorian, what are you doing?" Felix asked, walking towards him.

"Don't question me."

"Dorian - "

Iris interrupted Felix with a callous laugh. "I know what this is about," she said, cruelly, lowering her arm to rest both hands on her hips. "She's your little lover, isn't she?"

"You will not harm her," he said, not answering her question.

For a few seconds, all was quiet. Then, with a quick scan of the surroundings - Adrien and Victoria dead, the rest of us tired, some limping - Dorian nodded and announced, "This battle is over."

"No," Iris laughed, shaking her head. "This battle is to the death. I see some still standing."

"You - "

"No, don't interrupt me," she cut Dorian off. His eyes narrowed and his back straightened up. Every so often, I caught him casting worried glances at Tanya, who was still crouched down in a vulnerable position.

"You're either with us or against us," Iris continued. "I know you have the power in you to strike every single vampire right now dead. We do not need Adrien or Victoria to win this battle. You have the strength and the ability to end it all right now."

"And you know that - "

"Oh, you will," Iris cut him off, then with a swift motion, pointed her index finger at Tanya once more. "Or she's frozen for life."

Dorian's face tensed up as her words dawned on him.

"It's your decision," she smirked, her arm unwavering. "It's her… or us."

A hushed silence fell upon us all as we all turned our eyes to Dorian. He only had eyes for Tanya.

"If I do what you're asking me to do," he said slowly, never taking his gaze off of his love. "We will take Tanya with us - keep her safe."

Before Iris could respond, Tanya snapped her head up.

"Don't be a fool," she hissed at him. "Just walk away. Let her freeze me and just walk away."

"Tanya - "

"You think I'll be happy if you spare me?" she spat out. Thunder rumbled all around, deafening us.

"Make your choice!" Iris yelled. "A, kill them and spare your little girlfriend. B, walk away and your girlfriend will live her life as an ice cube."

In the distance, a wolf howled and suddenly, a maniacal smile spread across Dorian's lips.

"I choose C, none of the above," he sang out and then, the skies opened up and hell came crashing down.

Overhead, the clouds swirled and the wind howled and down fell rain, hail, pebbles as sharp as knives. Teltale signs of a tornado rapidly came together.

Dorian rushed at Iris and knocked her to the ground before she could do anything at all.

"Run!" he shouted.

Edward's arms were suddenly pulling at my armpits and I felt myself being propelled from the ground. From the far end of the field, I saw Rosalie and Alice along with the werewolves appear - they had caught the tail end of the battle. Rosalie was running towards Emmett, who was still lying on the ground, still as a statue.

Run, Emmett, I commanded as Edward pulled me away. Run.

And Emmett ran next to Rosalie as we made a mad dash out of the forest.

As I reached the edge of the clearing I looked back to see Tanya still standing there. Her hair flowed back behind her, glorious, and she made no motion to escape.

"What the bloody hell are you doing?" Dorian growled at her when he realized that she hadn't left. "Run, damnit. Run!"

"Dorian, what - "

"It's the only way," he said, his eyes bright as they stared into hers. "It has to be this way."

"Why - "

"I can't explain, there's no time. Love, you need to get out of here."

Bolts of lightening after bolts of lightening seemed to strike the earth at once and the tornado forming in the sky screeched and roared its triumph, threatening the world.

"We need to go," Edward shouted. "If we don't, we'll be destroyed by that."

He pointed at the monster in the clouds. Black dust poured down and slammed into our faces. The trees surrounding us suddenly caught fire, quickly setting ablaze the entire night. The wolf pack howled as they stormed out of the clearing, blazes upon blazes of angry fire chasing them into the darkness.

"Isn't it all in the mind?" I asked, my voice choking, not wanting to leave Tanya behind. From above, a flaming tree branch cracked and plunged to the ground. Edward pushed me out of the way as it landed between us, too close for comfort. He jumped over it and grabbed my hand.

"Yes, it is, but if you die in your mind, then you're really not living at all," he shouted, pulling me away. "That's why we need to leave. Now."

Yet I still hesitated, staring out into the clearing at the only three vampires who remained - Tanya, Dorian, and Iris who was screaming her lungs out, pinned under Dorian's strong hold. Felix had already made a run for it.

Tanya stared at Dorian for a fraction of a second, then rushed to him and pressed a long, burning kiss to his mouth. He stumbled back, surprised, still managing to hold Iris down as he kissed her back.

"I love you," Tanya whispered, her voice intense and sorrowful. Her hands held on to the back of his neck. "I always have."

"I love you too," he smiled weakly. The tornado faltered and he looked up at the sky. Suddenly, it was going at full force again, even stronger than before. He brought his eyes back to Tanya's face before swallowing and whispering, "Goodbye, love."

"This isn't goodbye," she shouted at him, holding him tighter.

He looked at her long and hard, then nodded.

"Fine," he leaned forward to capture her lips again. When they parted, he pressed his forehead against hers. "This wont be goodbye."

"This is just hello, right?" Tanya's voice was pleading as she hugged him fully. Over her shoulder, I saw the pained look in his eyes. A pained, heartbroken expression that Tanya would never see, because when she pulled back, his lips were smiling again.

Rosalie ran back into the clearing and yanked Tanya's arm, pulling her away from her lover.

"Let's go!"

And then we all raced back to the edge of the forest where sanity promised us sanctuary.

Author's Note: Whew. A lot more can be put into this chapter, but I'm completely wiped. I changed their battle sequence a million times before I finally decided on this.

So I lied - this isn't the last chapter. There's going to be another chapter to wrap things up and put in some explanations (i.e. Dorian's actions, etc), then an epilogue which might surprise some people.