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The Inevitable

Summary:
-Eclipse in Edward's Point if View- ~*~"It's more Inevitable than the sun rising in the East." -Alice Cullen Midnight Sun~*~


Notes:


22. Alliance

Rating 5/5   Word Count 7419   Review this Chapter

Chapter 21

Alliance

“Alice, please,” I ground out as I paced to the window. I understood what she was doing; she was searching the future from every conceivable angle she could, looking for any loop hole or change. So I understood why she kept hitting on the same vision again and again and I could handle watching our family’s demise, to an extent. Because it needed to be done. But if I had to watch one more round with Bella standing next to me I knew I would lose it.

“We both know that’s not going to happen,” I said firmly, not taking my eyes off the river.

“I’m sorry,” Alice said shortly. “It’s not my fault it’s hers…” ‘And well partly yours too.’

What?!” I spun around to meet her eyes. She was standing with her back to Jasper’s chest, his arms around her. He shot me a warning look but I ignored it. “You know I would never…it’s not even…”

Alice sighed cutting me off. “I know that, Edward.” ‘But you’re so wrapped up in each other that it’s naturally accepted…. as of now she is going to be wherever you are and vice versa.’

“I’ll send her away.” I said quickly, horrified at the truth in her words. “I’ll put her on the next plane to Florida…”

A flash of the airport terminal.

Bella screaming. Reaching for me as I slowly backed away.

No Please…..Edward…..Edward!”

I bit back a moan at the image, feeling my chest constrict.

I couldn’t do it.

The base ball clearing.

My family lined up.

Bella’s hand clutched in mine again.

Waiting.

“Enough.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Alice tried to push away the image before we had to watch it play out again. “See what I mean?” she said wearily, “You’re undecided, and until you are it will be like it always is: her with you.”

I turned away and ran my hand through my hair. “There shouldn’t be a decision to be made,” I muttered, mostly to myself. “I have no other choice.”

“I know that,” she said again. “I know it as well as you do.” ‘But think about it, right now could you make her leave? Could you say goodbye?’

I breathed out heavily, “No.” I whispered with hardly any sound. I had been battling that question all night. Both scenarios seemed impossible. But it shouldn’t be that way, I knew what I would do, what I had to do.

Well…” Emmett’s voice cut through the tension, reminding me that Alice and I were not the only ones in the room. They had all remained silent throughout our tense conversation….a conversation that was only half spoken out loud. “…as interesting as you half silent chat to each other is, could we please start talking in a language everyone can understand?”

Carlisle cleared his throat. “I’m unable to reach anyone else.” He said, giving in to Emmett’s annoyance. “I had hoped Eleazar would at least….” He paused and shook his head “It doesn’t matter,” he sighed and leaned back in his chair. “…it seems we are still on our own.”

Esme who was standing behind him placed her hands on his shoulders. Then her eyes moved to Jasper, “Peter and Charlotte?” she asked softly, though I’m sure she knew what his answer would be.

Jasper shook his head. “It will take some time to track them down….they move swiftly and frequently and it’s been over a year since I saw them last.”

“So how much time do we have exactly?” Rosalie asked, her voice was quite, but hard. She had yet to look at me, even to glare.

“I’m still looking,” Alice murmured. Her eyes were closed again, her fingers pressed into them. My feelings matched hers; I desperately wanted information….but I just as desperately wanted to block out the images.

“It will be sunny out,” I spoke for Alice knowing she was concentrating.

“Can you pin point….?” Jasper began, I held up a finger to silence him. Alice was already on it.

“This weekend the weather’s suppose to be clear,” Alice said distantly.

I clenched my teeth. This weekend. So soon. There’s was definitely no time to track down Charlotte and Peter. We would need Jasper in the short time we had.

Everyone in the room was frozen with anticipation, me included.

The news channel flashed through Alice’s mind, zeroing in on the numbers located in the top left corner.

“Saturday, Alice and I said at the same time. Her eyes snapped opened and locked with mine. ‘That’s only gives us four days.’

Everyone’s mind was blank in nearly identical states of realization and dread. I looked around at my silent family, trying to make myself realize we only had four more days. A few hours ago it was only a hanging treat and now we had been given a deadline.

I knew as well as Jasper did that we didn’t stand a chance. Even if the newborns numbers dropped more before they reached us, there would have to be a miracle for all of us to survive. There was no way we would all get through this. I took in a steadying breath when I realized who would most likely fall first. I didn’t want to think it, but I knew the truth.

Feeling Carlisle’s eyes on me I turned towards him. And looking into his eyes after my current appalling thought was extremely difficult. But I knew Carlisle…. he despised the destroying of any creature and I knew all too well what his reaction would be if a new born monster in a child’s body were coming at him. He would hesitate….and one small hesitation was all it took. I didn’t need Alice’s vision to tell me that.

Edward?’ I mentally shook myself and focused my eyes back on the familiar gentle gold. I nodded once letting him know I was paying attention now.

“They're still coming from the northeast?” he asked his voice strong and steady.

I nodded again.

At the sound of Carlisle’s voice everyone’s attention drew towards him. Like in any other time of trouble or threat we all gravitated towards him. And though we had never faced anything to this extreme before this time was no different in that respect. It was an unspoken understanding that everyone in this room would listen to his words and follow them.

“Alright then,” Carlisle stood up. “I think we should keep with our plan to coordinate in the morning.” He looked quickly and questioningly at Jasper who nodded once.

“I’ll teach you as much as I can,” Jasper said quietly.

“Good,” Carlisle sighed. “In the mean time,” he went on, “I think a few of us should make some quick runs, make sure there are no fresh trails leading into town and it wouldn’t hurt to double check Charlie’s either.”

“I’ll go,” I said immediately. I needed to get out. Jasper’s emotions, that were thickening the room, added to everyone’s rapidly moving thoughts were pressing in on me. For a second time today I felt like the walls were closing in. I hated being backed into a corner; I needed to run….needed to do something useful.

Trying to push away my thoughts of Carlisle and Bella –who was waiting for me downstairs- I moved towards the window. I already knew who would be coming with me, even without turning around. Emmett would move automatically to follow me and naturally Rosalie was would be hot on his heels.

I paused in the process of opening the window, “Alice?”

She knew what I was asking.

“I’ll stay with her,” she answered. ‘But Edward….’

I looked over my shoulder at her, ‘I’m going to answer her questions…. And, we need…well you need to decide.’

Right before I jumped to the ground below I murmured, “I know,” answering both statements.

Our run took only a few minutes. There was nothing new to find, not that we really expected anything, but the run felt good. As I leapt the river and closed in on the house, Rose and Emmett slightly behind, I could hear a few cars leaving down the drive. Maybe the party was finally drawing to a close.

Anxious to get to Bella I went straight through the kitchen and back into the crowd of bodies.

“It will be fine Bella…I promise.” Alice’s voice reached me over the music and seeing them by the stairs, surprisingly with a tense Jasper, I made my way over. The first thing that I noticed was Bella’s fast heart beat and the anger on her face. Alice had a hold of her wrist as she strained towards the front door. In the slight struggle I saw a small flash of silver reflect off the wrist in Alice’s hand. Before I could examine it further Bella’s voice rang across the room.

“It isn’t right Alice!” she was saying rapidly, as she spun around to face my sister. “I need to stop him…he…” at that moment she caught sight of me over Alice’s shoulder. The anger crumpled away and a look of utter defeat filled her features.

I moved forward at the same time she pulled away from Alice. She flew into my arms, turning her back on the room and burying her face in her hands. Something between a groan and a frustrated growl escaping her chest.

Rubbing her back gently I threw a questioning look at Alice. And I was shocked when she grinned at me. The blank fear that had been in her eyes when I left was gone, there’s was nothing but relief and excitement shinning through. I looked at Jasper and though he wasn’t smiling he looked just as relieved.

And then there was Bella, stiff as a board in my arms, clearly upset, but not saying anything.

“What…” I began…but then gasped.

Alice was showing me….well….nothing.

It had all disappeared.

Everything.

“Alice….what happened….”

We spoke to Jacob,’ she thought, clearly not wanting to say in out loud.

“And?” I asked somewhat impatiently. Hope was beginning to seep through my veins, but I was hesitant to trust it.

He’s going to talk Sam, but he made it pretty clear they were going to fight.’

Suddenly my face stretched into a grin that matched hers, and I was glad Bella couldn’t see it. Her actions made sense now.

I sighed, leaning down to kiss the top of her head. “It will be alright,” I murmured against her hair. And it was the truth this time.

She just pushed herself further into me, and shook her head. I could feel the brace on her right hand as it pressed further into my chest, but I could also feel something else on her left. It was smaller and much cooler than the heat coming off her skin.

I’m going to tell the others,’ I looked up at Jasper and nodded.

“Rose and Emmett are in the kitchen,” I said quietly.

When they walked off I pulled Bella back some. She still had her face in her hands and I could now clearly see a bracelet around her left wrist. There was a fleeting second where I just stared at the silver ringlets….

I saw it too,’ in my peripheral vision I could see Alice lingering in the doorway of the kitchen her eyes still watching Bella worriedly.

‘My guess is it was a gift from the dog.' There was a quick flash of a small wolf charm in her mind.

I looked back at the bracelet but found the charm was hidden behind Bella’s wrist. I pushed back the feelings it rose inside me. Right now it didn’t matter. Lifting Bella’s face to mine I kissed her lips gently, lingering till she breathed out and relaxed.

”It will be fine now,” I whispered again, pulling back. I couldn’t disguise the relief in my voice, in less than an hour we had all gone from complete despair to full out hope. We had a chance now….with the wolves help all of us had a chance of making it through this.

Bella looked up at me, her eyes full of fear. I sighed and pulled her towards me again, because I realized in that moment, no words I said was going to make see the truth, or make her feel any better about the turn of events.

It wasn’t until around 11:20 that the last of the quests left.

The music was off as were the multi-colored lights, leaving behind only the regular house lights. The room was a mess and Alice was already darting back and forth with the clean up. It was amusing how she was enjoying every aspect of this party.

The whole family was downstairs, all of them basking in the same relief I was feeling. Jasper and Alice had filled us in on the whole conversation. Apparently the pack would be meeting us in the baseball clearing in a few hours. It made sense; we would have to try to work together before we could fight together.

It should definitely be interesting.

Bella remained silent through it all, the opposite affect seeming to take place with her. Somehow I knew I shouldn’t be surprised, she was more upset now than she had been after the graduation ceremony.

Everyone else seemed to see this too. As I helped her into her jacket by the door, Esme came over and pulled her into a hug. “It will be fine sweetheart,” she promised, before kissing her lightly on the forehead

Alice had also stopped her rapid movements and patted Bella’s hair. “Everything will work out now Bella, you’ll see.”

Bella just mutter a quite “sure, sure” as she zipped up her jacket. Alice threw a look at Jasper over her shoulder and I immediately felt the calming waves wash over us. Bella sighed and relaxed some, but it was clear she knew where it came from because in the next second she threw a glare in Jasper’s direction.

I held back a smirk as Jasper tried not to laugh, it seemed he found ‘a Bella trying to intimidate a vampire’ just as amusing as I did. Emmett however either didn’t have the restraint or didn’t bother. His loud laughter filled the room and due to the fact that he always spoke what first came into his mind I had no chance of stopping his next words.

“Why are you the only one who’s allowed to fight with werewolves?!”

Bella opened her mouth, clearly wanting to say something back, but quickly closed it. Instead she turned on her heal and walked out the door towards the car.

I heard a loud smack followed by two female voices. “Emmett!”

“What?”

Throwing a dark look at my clueless brother I quickly followed after Bella, Carlisle’s disapproving voice echoing quietly behind me, “Was that really necessary?”

Bella was already in the car with her seat belt buckled when I climbed into the driver’s seat. As we made our way down the driveway and out onto the main road I reached over and pulled her hand into mine.

“I’m sorry,” I said, quietly. “Emmett’s just….”

“An idiot, I know,” Bella interrupted. She didn’t sound angry just tired. She sighed and leaned her head against the window. “That had to be the longest party in the history of the world,” she grumbled.

“I know,” I agreed. “It’s over now.”

So much was over now, not just the party. The dead end questions, the endless wait, and now the looming deadline we all knew was over our heads, but never voiced. I just wished she could see that. With the wolves help this fight will almost be simple.

I knew a little about how the pack fought. The first time we came into contact with them I learned that they shared their thoughts….and with that they moved together, forming separate fighting limbs that worked together as one whole body. It was very effective, and it had only been three wolves at the time….this new pack was much larger. I could only imagine the damage they could do when they were all thrown together.

Of course adding seven vampires to the mix might be a different story.

“You’re taking me with you tonight,” Bella’s whisper broke through the silence.

I suppressed a sigh and glanced over, she still had her head on the window, her eyes facing forward.

“Bella, you're worn out.” It was already past midnight and we wouldn’t be meeting the pack till around three.

“You think I could sleep?” She said, finally looking at me. And I could see in her eyes that either way she wasn’t going to get any sleep. Not while I was gone.

By now we were at Charlie’s. I pulled into the driveway and parked, before I turned back to her.

“This is an experiment. I’m not sure if it will be possible for us all to….cooperate.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth I knew it was the wrong thing to say. This would only make her more eager to go, but it was too late to take them back. “I don’t want you in the middle of that,” I added. I knew dealing peacefully with seven wolves would be much harder than three. And this time around we would be learning to fight together not just agreeing to a treaty.

I watched as her face set into that willful stubbornness and I knew I would not win this argument.

“If you won’t take me then I’ll call Jacob.”

The words effectively took the fight out of me….in more ways than one.

It was like a physical blow and on instinct I froze.

I could tell by the way her brow furrowed slightly that she could see something on my face, but at the same time her eyes told me she’d meant what she said.

We both knew she would not be taking it back.

“See you upstairs,” she mumbled, and then she was climbing out of the car and heading towards the house.

I stared after her until the front door closed and then immediately pulled back out the driveway, taking the car to its usual parking spot down the street. Once it was parked the air I had been holding in my chest finally hissed out between my teeth.

Anger and frustration washed through me, dragging with it entirely too much hurt.

Bella had a large amount of power over me. I knew this, but I also knew she didn’t realize just how much.

Despite that she has always known the exact words to say that would affect me. I knew that it was always unconsciously, that she wasn’t aware of it when she did it, but this time was different. This time she was not only aware of the words, but she had used them purposely against me.

And it wasn’t so much what was said as they way it was said. The words were not spoken in a threat; they were simply spoken as the truth. She would have called Jacob and the mutt would have picked her up. For some irrational reason that made it worse.

As I ran back to the house I tried to push it away. If I really thought about it, I would see that regardless of what I wanted Bella would have been coming with me. I was accepting that fact before she even mentioned Jacob.

Once I climbed through the open window I sat in the rocking chair and waited as Bella brushed her teeth and changed in the bathroom. When she walked into the room wearing jeans instead of her usual sweat pants I wasn’t surprised, so it shouldn’t have aggravated me….but it did.

Because I could see how tired she was. She had already been through so much today; it was hard to believe she had actually graduated this afternoon.

Due to the fact she hadn’t looked at me once since entering the room I knew that she knew I was still upset. It wasn’t until she had hung up her new outfit and turned from the closet that she looked at me. Her tired features stood out strongly in the light of her bedroom….more than anything I wished she would stay and sleep. She needed the rest….and what made it worse was that I knew she wouldn’t be able to, even if she did stay. Not tonight.

“Come here,” she demanded softly, reaching down and grabbing my hand.

And though her words from earlier still ran hurtfully through my mind, I stood up and allowed her to guide me to the bed….and while her pale face and circled eyes made me want to insist again that she stay and at least try to sleep, I remained silent.

Hence the before mentioned power she had over me.

But as Bella pulled me down onto the mattress and curled up against my chest, I knew I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was hers and I was beyond relieved that she finally knew it.

If it wasn’t for the tension I could feel in her body as she tucked her legs up and leaned into my chest I would have laughed, because I knew there was a reason behind her actions. She had more or less imprisoned me, even if I had wanted to….I wouldn’t be able to leave without her, even if she somehow managed to fall asleep.

Instead, I pulled the quilt up from beside me and covered it around her. Once satisfied that every warm limb was securely protected by the blanket, I pulled her closer and tucked her head under my chin. She nestled willing into my chest, but I could tell she wouldn’t come close to sleeping.

“Please relax.” It felt like every muscle in her body was pulled tight, waiting for an invisible blow to strike.

“Sure.”

“This is going to work, Bella. I can feel it.”

My words seemed to be the opposite of helpful. I felt a soft pressure against the base of my neck when her jaw flexed and it was followed by an almost panicked leap of her heart. The fast beating filled the room and thudded heavily against my chest. I didn’t know what it was I had said to trigger this reaction, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t expect it to happen sooner or later. The wolves involvement in everything….Jacobs involvement, it must have been the end of her limit.

“Listen to me Bella” I all but pleaded, the words tumbling from my mouth automatically. I couldn’t take it; I had to make her understand. I couldn’t bear for her to be so terrified, even as I held her in my arms.

“This is going to be easy. The newborns will be completely taken by surprise. They’ll have no more idea that werewolves exist than you did. I’ve seen how they act in a group, the way Jasper remembers. I truly believe that the wolves hunting techniques will work flawlessly against them. And with them divided and confused, there won’t be enough for the rest of us to do. Someone may have to sit out.” I added, trying to lightened my voice and make her see the truth of what I was saying.

“Piece of cake,” she muttered, pressing her face into my shirt.

“Shhh,” I soothed running my fingers lightly down the small part of her cheek that was exposed. “You’ll see. Don’t worry now.” And then, because it was the only option I had left, I let her song slip naturally through my lips, hoping that like it always did, the familiar tune would calm.

Her pulse did steady out but she never once relaxed.

Once again I realized that nothing I said or tried to do was going to do any good. And it was simply due to the fact that my Isabella was simply who she was.

When she looked at the pack she didn’t see strong capable beings, she saw only her friends….friends she cared deeply about. It was the same way she viewed me and my family. She didn’t see Vampires she saw people. It is that same part of her that makes her love me as unconditionally as she does. She’s able to look past so many faults and mistakes….she sees the most simple parts of the ones she loves and at the same time the very best.

It was one of the many things I loved most about her….

And yet didn’t seem fair somehow…. that something so good inside of her would make her hurt this much, again and again.

I watched the numbers on her bedside table changed after every minute and paced my breathing to match Bella’s, waiting for her to relax. It never happened. When it was 2:30 I sat up straight with her still in my arms.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay and sleep?” I’m nothing if not persistent.

The look she gave me when she pulled back from my chest was enough to silence me. With a sigh I stood up with her still cradled in my arms and stepped towards the window.

During the short fall Bella closed her eyes, but her heart stayed steady. I’m not sure why I noticed these small things but I did, and it never failed to amaze me the complete and udder trust she had in me.

In a quick but gentle motion I swooped Bella up and around me. It was a very familiar and natural move, something we had both perfected over time. Her arms wound around my neck and her chin rested lightly on my shoulder.

Her weight was always light, nearly nonexistent, but her presence overweighed everything. Over the decades running has been one of my favorite things to do. It was freeing and relaxing. Now however it was never complete without the steady thud against my back, the familiar soft cheek pressed into my neck, and warm breath whispering by my ear.

With an unconscious smile I took off, letting the much more enjoyable run wash over me. So much had changed and I couldn’t help the happiness that ran through me. Now we had a chance and if everything worked out tonight with the wolves it would be more than that….we would win.

And once it was taken care and everyone returned, Bella would see that. She would understand that us working with the wolves was the only way we could both win. If we didn’t then once the Cullens were taken care of there would be nothing to stop the newborns from entering town….the wolves being the only things left that could stop them. But like us they would be outnumbered….

Our only chances were working together.

When we reached the clearing I stopped and eased Bella to the ground. She reached for my hand with her good one and I took it, gently squeezing her fingers. Once more I tried to ignore the feather touch of the charm when it hit my own wrist. She hadn’t mentioned it yet, and I had no doubt it was because of everything going on, but I couldn’t find it in myself to question it either, not yet at least. I would wait for a time when things slowed down and steadied out.

We took our time walking across the large field towards my family. I was in no hurry and it seemed neither was Bella. She was glancing around, peering into the darkness. I knew that even with the moon’s white light illuminating the ground she wouldn’t be able to see much.

That thoughtful look, that was both frustrating and intriguing at the same time, came over her features. I was about to ask the familiar question that would sometimes ease my never-ending desire to know what she was thinking, when she spoke.

“You know what I think?”

I laughed, because of her timing of asking and the question itself. “No.”I answered truthfully, the amusement still clear in my voice. “What do you think?”

“I think it’s all connected,” she said looking up at me with a thoughtful furrow of her brow. “Not just the two, but all three.”

I stared at her for half a second; the desire to read her mind and solve my own confusion was strong. It’s what I would have done in any other situation. However since that wasn’t an option I quickly caved and admitted, “You’ve lost me.”

“Three bad things have happened since you came back.” She took her hand out of mine and pulled back her index finger. “The newborn’s in Seattle.” A second finger. “The stranger in my room,” A third finger. “And…” She hesitated, looking at me “…first of all—Victoria came looking for me.”

This new angle ran through my head. I wondered why I never thought of it. “Why would you think so?” I wanted to know her theories, as this was a possibility none of us had considered.

“Because I agree with Jasper…” she answered immediately. Her eyes were locked on mine now and I realized we were no longer walking. “…the Volturi love their rules. They would probably do a better job anyway.” She paused again and it was clear she was thinking something over….something I would, of course, never hear.

Before I could become irritated with the silence, she asked softly, “Do you remember when you were tracking Victoria last year?”

I frowned, not liking the somewhat change in conversation. I didn’t like to think about that time, not even a little bit….no more than she did. “Yes,” I admitted. “I wasn’t very good at it.” Of course I wasn’t very good at anything then, but I didn’t say that.

“Alice said you were in Texas. Did you follow her there?”

“Yes.” I said slowly thinking over her words. When it was put together like that. “Hmm….”

“See….” Bella said quickly, “she could have gotten the idea there. But she doesn’t know what she’s doing, so the newborns are all out of control.”

By now everyone was listening to our conversation, though we were still yards apart.

She has a point,’ I heard Jasper’s thought.

I shook my head slightly. “Only Aro knows exactly how Alice’s visions work.” I said, pretty much addressing them both.

“Aro would know best, but wouldn’t Tanya and Irina and the rest of your friends in Denali know enough?”

I heard Alice’s small gasp, and more than one mind thinking of Laurent.

Bella’s voice continued without pause, unaware of the other’s reactions. “Laurent lived with them for so long. And if he was still friendly enough with Victoria to be doing favors for her, why wouldn’t he also tell her everything he knew?”

They do know Edward….’ Alice’s thoughts were fast, she was realizing all the facts and fitting them into place with what Bella was saying. ‘Tanya and Irina….they all knew, and now that I think about it, perhaps we told them too much….I just thought we could trust them….”

I shook my head; there was still one thing that didn’t fit. “It wasn’t Victoria in your room,” of that I was sure of.

“She can’t make new friends?” Bella asked raising her eyebrows. “Think about it Edward. If it is Victoria doing this in Seattle, she’s made a lot of new friends. She’s created them.”

She definitely has the motive,’ this was Carlisle’s thought, and it was followed quickly be Jaspers’, ‘It makes sense, whoever created this army doesn’t have a clue on what they are doing. It’s been fast and sloppy…completely mindless of the Volturi.’

What Bella was saying and what everyone else was thinking did make sense. But none of it explained why the Volturi hadn’t stepped in yet. I knew something about Aro that no one else understood. His jealousy and fear. Carlisle has ‘things’ he wants, and a certain amount of power he fears. Their apparent blindness to everything that had been going on in Seattle couldn’t be a mere mistake….there was a reason behind it. There had to be.

“Hmm, it’s possible,” I murmured, everything Bella had said fit perfectly with everything that had happened and everything I knew about Victoria, if the Volturi were being overlooked.

“I still think the Volturi are most likely…” I added, because, unfortunately, they couldn’t be over looked. “But your theory – there’s something there.” I went on acknowledging the truth in Bella’s words. “Victoria’s personality. Your theory suits her personality perfectly. She’s shown a remarkable gift for self- preservation from the start – maybe it’s a talent of hers.”

That would definitely explain how she has been able to, not only slip through our clutches again and again, but also the wolves. “In any case this plot would put her in no danger at all from us, if she sits safely behind and lets the newborns wreak their havoc here.” I spoke the words as my mind unraveled the possibilities, till I was nearly speaking to myself.

“And maybe little danger from the Volturi, either. Perhaps she’s counting on us to win, in the end, though certainly not without heavy casualties of our own. But no survivors from her little army to bear witness against her. In fact, if there were survivors I’d bet she’d be planning to destroy them herself….” And if it is Victoria then I doubt if Aro would be grieved to see heavy casualties on our side either, in a way he would be hoping for it as much as Victoria would be. Of course in his twisted mind I knew he would find that ‘wasteful.’

“….Hmm,” I said again drawing myself back. “Still she’d have at least one friend that was mature. No fresh-made newborn left you father alive…”

That would take someone with a few years of gained self control, or a very, very well tamed new born that had a good reason to do what they did, a reason to follow strict orders and go against something as tempting as fresh blood.

Could Victoria really gain a young one’s trust and obedience that way? And do so over such a short amount of time?

Of course I knew the Volturi would have plenty of connections and finding someone to carry out strict orders would be easy for them. And any one of them would go through the trouble of getting Bella’s scent for someone else, if it meant keeping themselves clean from any visible responsibility.

Whichever way it was looked at, that fact seemed to be true. Victoria or the Volturi would want to keep a safe distance and to keep their hands clean.

Both were very probable possibilities.

I glanced at Bella from the corner of my eye to see that she was watching me, waiting for me to speak. I smiled and took her hand again. “Definitely possible,” I said, voicing my thoughts. “Regardless, we’ve got to be prepared for anything until we know for sure.”

And it was good to have this prospective laid on the table. My smile widened as I looked at Bella, she never failed to amaze me. Once again her beautiful, perceptive human mind had picked up on something that seven well experienced and much older vampire minds had over looked.

“You’re very perceptive today,” I said proudly. She had even impressed Jasper’s military enhanced thought process. “It’s impressive.” I tugged lightly on her hand and we began making our way slowly across the field again.

I expected a light blush at the praise, but instead her face stayed the same pale color it had been since the party.

“Maybe I’m just reacting to this place,” she said with a sigh. She moved closer to me, seeming unconscious to the movement, until her side was pressing into mine. “It makes me feel like she’s close by…” she went on quietly, her eyes scanning the darkness. “…Like she sees me now.”

I pulled her even closer to me, hating the fear that that creature always brought on. But the simple mention of the thought that Victoria could be here had my eyes automatically taking in every shadow and every movement in the forest around us.

“She’ll never touch you Bella,” I vowed. Never again would she be touched by something like that. Victoria wouldn’t get close enough to touch even a single strand of loose hair on Bella’s head.

The thought had my body tensing; it made me furious but also disgustingly eager.

I dared that monster to even try while I was standing here…..to even think about taking a step towards what was mine.

“Yet, what I wouldn’t give to have her that close,” the words came before I could stop them, low and hard. “Victoria and anyone else who ever thought about hurting you."To have the chance to end this myself. To finish it with my bare hands this time.”

The memory of James’ painful screams and the ripping snap of his bones as he was pulled apart by my brothers was all too clear in my mind. Then later the disappointment that I had not had the chance to it myself. The chance to cause ten times the amount of pain he had inflicted on my Angel back on him, and then some. It would have been slow, torturous….and very, very satisfying.

The satisfaction that came with just the thought of Victoria going down by my hands had my mind and body ready for the fight right now…. beyond eager for it. I was ready for the day she showed her face again. And if I was lucky enough to be there at the time, my face would be the last thing she ever saw.

Bella’s warm fingers molding tightly around my cold ones pulled me back. We had finally made it to the rest of the family. My attention went back to Alice. Her glimpses of the future had been slowly shaved till they covered only what was going to happen in the next couple of minutes. Anything further than that was either a jumbled mess, or completely black.

Then suddenly I caught a quick flash of Emmett’s regular goofy grin and what looked like a quick greeting towards me cut off. Then it was gone and her mind was left blank, not clear but as if a black thick curtain had fallen. The wolves must be moving this way then.

I watched amusedly as Alice’s small features scrunched up as she tried in vain to catch something she could hold onto.

“Is something wrong with Alice?” Bella asked quietly. She was obviously close enough now to make the annoyance that was clear on my sister’s face.

Of course there’s something wrong…I can’t see anything…..I think maybe….maybe Emmett’s about to say something?’

I chuckled as her thought trailed off into a question. She hated guessing….it was something she was not used to doing and it had been happening a lot lately.

“The werewolves are on their way,” I explained for Bella’s benefit. “So she can’t see anything that going to happen now. It makes her uncomfortable to be blind.”

Suddenly Alice’s half finished vision began to play out. “Hey Edward, Hey Bella.” Emmett said loudly. His eyes moved to Bella and his grin widened. “Is he going to let you practice too?”

I groaned, leave to Emmett to suggest something that Bella would actually consider. She would do anything if she thought she was helping. “Please, Emmett, don’t give her any ideas.”

He turned his grin to me. ‘Soon brother…very soon’

I rolled my eyes, ignoring his thought of Bella being as strong as us and him showing her a few ‘pointers’. I knew he was eager for Bella to join us permanently…excited even. I just wished he would keep it to himself sometimes. Seeing him wrestle Bella, being a vampire or not, was not something I wanted planted in my head.

Edward?’ My head automatically snapped towards Carlisle. “When will our guests arrive?” he asked out loud, for everyone else.

Relaxing I stopped listening with my ears and began listening with my mind. It took a few seconds but then I heard the faint buzzing of many voices. As I concentrated they became clearer and I began to hear different tones and voices, but I also realized they were not separated the way they should be. I frowned remembering what it had sounded like to hear wolves share their thoughts. This meant only one thing.

“A minute and a half,” I sighed, opening my eyes. “But I’m going to have to translate. They don’t trust us enough to use their human forms.”

“That’s understandable,” Carlisle nodded. “This is hard for them, I’m grateful they’re coming at all.” ‘We should all be grateful.’

“They’re coming as wolves?!” I looked down and met Bella’s wide eyes. I nodded cautiously, examining her reaction. I couldn’t tell if she was shocked or frightened at the idea. Maybe a little of both. I wondered how many times she had actually seen Jacob in his wolf form, or if that one time in the meadow with Laurent was all.

We’re getting close….’

‘….can you smell it?’

..Of course the wind is blowing right at us…’

Ugh…yeah….’

The thoughts began to clear out the closer they came and they were now very clear.

Never smelled it this strong before…’

‘…me either…’

You think this is bad you should have smelled their crypt….’

Does it always burn...?’

Yeah kid, get use to it…’

The males voices were all jumbled together, some deeper than others and one standing out that sounded much younger. I also caught snatches of a much different tenor and I knew immediately it was female. So Jacob’s slipped up thought the day he had come to receive the scent from Bella’s room had been true. Leah Clearwater had joined the pack.

Though it had been decades since I last heard it, the sound of one thought being repeated again through every other mind was familiar. But hearing it echoed through more than just three minds was completely different.

As I continued to listen, I began to separate the voices and recognize which belong with who, and who I could recognize and who I had never met before. As I mentally did the separating I realized there were more than just seven. Excitement and awe washed through me at what I had just discovered and what we all seconds away from seeing.

“Prepare yourselves,” I said quickly, looking at Carlisle again. “They’ve been holding out on us”.

“What do you mean?” Alice said shrilly, sounding somewhat panicked. ‘I can’t see….what did I miss….what can’t I see….Edward….Edward what…?’

“Shhh,” I said, trying to soothe her mental melt down. It was rare for Alice to be surprised; in fact I could count the number of times on one hand out of the near 50 years she’s been with us. There was no way I was going to ruin this experience for her. Even if she couldn’t fully appreciate it.

Besides she wouldn’t have to wait long. On top of hearing their mixed together thoughts I could now hear the soft thud of dozens of large padded paws hitting the forest floor.

I knew the others heard it as well as I did because in the next second everyone spread out.

As the family line was formed out I leaned forward automatically, realizing I was standing in the wrong place. I should be next to Emmett in the front, closer to Rosalie and Carlisle, and Esme should be slightly behind me, not the other way around.

That was where I had always belonged. Despite the fact that I was younger in human years, I was still older than the three of them, I had always been the one to watch over them. In the beginning it had always been Carlisle and I guiding them and helping them.

That responsibility-though probably no longer needed- had never fully went away and having what could possibly be a very large danger coming at us was making that old responsibility kick in again and the feeling was stronger than I thought it would be.

Bella’s warm fingers once again gripping mine was the only thing that kept my feet grounded in their spot.

I had changed completely in a short amount of time though. Especially since last year when my priorities had been crippled and zeroed in on one thing. Bella was my number one priority now, and always would be. And though I knew my place would always be next to her and that I wouldn’t move away for anything, a small part of my mind still felt torn.

Then as quickly as my inner battle had begun, it was over.

I could see them now.

Ten pairs of glittering eyes gazed at us through the trees. Then slowly, as one large mass, the large pack of wolves exited the forest.

Hearing the multiple thoughts and realizing there were more than I had expected still didn’t prepare me for what I saw. They were huge, built of pure muscle and strength. As they moved, their massive legs seemed to lift and fall to the ground in sequence with each other. And despite their size their movements were oddly graceful, sure and precise.

The image –the likes of which I had never seen before- was almost beautiful in a very intimidating way.

It took a lot for the Cullen family to be intimidated, and I knew I wasn’t the only one.

In that second the weight of the treaty made over 80 years ago suddenly felt much heavier….and I had also never been more glad of its existence.

“Damn.” Emmett breathed, more or less voicing the thought of every other vampire present. “Did you ever see anything like it?”