It has been 17 years since Isabella Swan's death, and young Adora has moved to Forks igniting gossip everywhere she turns. As Adora slowly unravels the clues that lead her down a path riddled with even more questions, she begins to realize that it seems to be more than coincidence, drawing her farther away from the life she knows, and into a world, she does not understand. The closer she gets to the truth, the more her own destiny becomes irrevocably entwined with the girl that haunts the small town. She wonders why everything that's happening revolves around the mysterious Edward Cullen, and why he seems to hold the key to the answers she's spent a lifetime searching for.
I consider this story to be pretty much the unofficial 5th installment of the Twilight Series, it takes place after Breaking Dawn, it is 100% canon, which means that it does NOT deviate from the storyline of the books, although in the first few chapters it doesn't seem like it is anything close to being like the original Twilight series, but trust me, it is.
7. Love Endures All Things
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A/N: This Chapter was the one that I wrote originally, before the ones before it ever existed, I wrote this back in 2008. 5 years ago!
Behind my eyes, were a kaleidoscope of images, emotions, and a million sensations. Pregnant. I had been pregnant. I had been with child, I had carried Edward's child. I felt a sharpness in my stomach. It was her, my little nudger. Images and sounds, of childish laughter and smiles, tiny hands on my cheeks. I'd watched her grow, watched her change for the brief years I'd had with her, as she'd transformed, maturing in her state. She was my daughter. Renesmee. I felt tears prick my eyes as I allowed that knowledge to hit me in a way that it never had before. I hadn't had the time to really understand what had happened then. One moment I had been pregnant as a human, and then I'd had a fully developed child in my vampire arms. I was a mother. I was a mother. The bask of warmth wrapping my body evaporated suddenly as the truth, in all its horrors, descended upon me, blackening my gaze.
Her birth had been in a pool of blood. I remembered Edward's haunted face as he'd watched me when I'd been willing to die for her, and I had. I had died, and been reborn, into my new life as a vampire, but that wasn't the death and rebirth that came to me now. I wasn't in the present time suddenly, droves of memories washed over me, and I remembered everything.
Renesmee was missing.
We had tried to make her understand the danger in her hunting alone, without either Jacob, Edward or I. We had been so diligent in making her aware that if anything were to happen to her while she were on her own then Alice wouldn't be able to see it. We were wrong; Alice didn't need to know what had happened to know something wasn't right.
She had been working on new clothes for Renesmee. It was her new favorite pastime, seeing as how Nessie tended to outgrow her clothes on a weekly basis. Jacob had pack business to attend to that day, so Edward had gone hunting with Nessie, attempting to earn a ranking somewhere above Jacob in his little girls heart, as was his rightful place as her father. I laughed as I thought of it, coming back to where Alice was explaining the differences between fabrics as she danced and twirled around her design studio, motioning to different outfits.
She made a sour face at me when I pretended to yawn. "Bella, you could at least pretend to be interested in what your daughter will be wearing," She scolded in her bird like voice.
"Alice, fashion has never been interesting to me, and if I do live forever, I highly doubt that even thousands of years could change that fact. Sorry." I shrugged apologetically. "Besides, Nessie loves the times she spends with you, dressing up in pretty clothes, and having her hair done by Rose. It's something for you two to do together. Nessie and I, we have our own special things we bond over, like reading."
Alice rolled her eyes and tried to mutter the word 'boring' low enough that I wouldn't catch it, but I did. "See," I offered. "Your opinion of reading is my opinion of fashion…boring." Her jaw dropped suddenly and her eyes widened considerably making me snort, shaking my head as I turned to peer out the window beside me. "Oh, don't act so shocked Alice, you've known my aversion to all things fashion related for a few years now, so it shouldn't really surprise you…" I was laughing when a tearing sound made me turned to face her, and I froze abruptly when I saw her face. Her pupils were sudden pinpricks as her golden irises nearly drowned them out, the way they always did when she had a vision. However, this was no ordinary vision. I knew because only one other time had I seen the look of sheer terror and agony that was on Alice's face now, and that had been the day she had dropped the vase in the living room—when she had seen the Volturi Army arriving to destroy us all. Then, dropping the vase, she had done something very unlike Alice, and this time was no different, she was shaking and the dress that she had been holding was suddenly ripped in half.
In an instant I was across the room, gripping her arms. "Alice, what is it? What do you see?" She didn't respond. "Alice?" I could hear the panic begin to seep into my voice. "Alice, what's wrong?"
"What happened?" Jasper's worried voice came from behind me and I jumped. I would never get used to them just appearing out of thin air.
I turned to him, my voice starting to sound slightly hysterical. "I don't know. I thought she was making a face at what I'd said, I looked away and when I looked back she was like this." I motioned to her just as Carlisle, Esme, Emmet and Rosalie rushed into the room. I turned back to Alice. "Alice!" I shouted my voice rising slightly, but Alice continued to shake, locked within the cage of her vision.
"Jasper, has she ever taken this long before?" Esme asked frantically as we waited.
"Never like this." His voice was strained as he spoke. "Alice, darlin'," Jasper tried to cajole her sweetly, "You're scarin' me. Alice, are you all right?" His eyes frantically danced across her face, and as if someone had hit the unpause button on a movie; she suddenly pitched forward into Jasper's arms, breathing harshly as she began to sob tearlessly. "Alice what is it?" Jasper murmured tightening his arms around her.
"They're here," She sobbed. "They came back, for her, to use her to get to us." I had thought being a vampire had frozen me, but I truly felt the stillness seep deep into my core as she spoke. They came back? Who had?I couldn't make sense of the quick rush of her words. "It's too late to stop them, they've already taken her." Icy cold fear ran down my spine, remnants of a human body's reaction to terror, I could imagine the black fingers of dread beginning to spread inside me.
It's too late to stop them, they've already taken her. The words echoed in my head and I tried to will them to be untrue, to make it so they were never said. I knew the meaning in Alice's words. My brilliant daughter had been…kidnapped. I had somehow deluded myself into thinking that the things normal human parents feared, had no hold on mine and Edward's world. I was wrong.
I suddenly felt as if my chest were going to burst. How had they gotten past Edward? He would have heard them coming, he would have protected her, he—
My gaze fell upon Alice's shaking form as she slowly tilted her face away from Jasper's chest. I stared hard and long at her, begging silently for her next words not to be what I already knew they would be.
"He tried to stop them, but Alec and Jane, they—" She looked at me as she said this, locking her eyes with mine before she burst into tearless sobs again. If 'they' we're the Volturi, then I knew that when she said 'he' she meant Edward. I was gaping suddenly as my entire body locked into place, a strange numbing mixture of absolute rage and agony spreading through me.
Several voices shouted out in denial suddenly.
"Edward." His name was like a ghost on my lips.
I felt as if everything were slipping away, as the quickness of my mind processed her words. She didn't have to say the words, the unspoken horror in her eyes told me everything.
Edward, my soul mate, my love—my everything was lying somewhere in pieces, and my only child had been taken from me. A flash of memories came to mind, images of the pile of burning newborn army's bodies in the clearing, the pieces of Riley and Victoria strewn about the snow, all replaced with Edward's face. The blackness nearly engulfed me until Jasper's words broke through.
"Alice, what aren't you telling us?" Jasper spoke very quickly, pulling her from his chest even though I could tell it pained him to do so. Funny, I had thought at that point I was too far gone to notice anything. I felt numb, as I backed away from them all, edging towards the door. "They left him alive?" He asked seriously as he met her haunted gaze.
"Edward!" I was running in a blur of movement, screaming as I ran, but before I'd even made it to the stairs, Emmet had his arms around me, locking in place so that I couldn't move. It had been over a year since I'd even been able to beat him at arm wrestling; I no longer had my newborn strength to break free. "Let me go, Emmet!" I growled.
"You shouldn't see that Bella." He murmured gently. I tried to twist free.
"He's my husband, I have to help him!" I cried frantically. "Let GO of me!" I snarled. "We could have already been on our way to him. Let me go Emmett! They could still come back to kill him." One arm ripped free, swinging backwards, barely missing Emmett's ear, before he had my arms pinned once again. Carlisle, Jasper and Alice were suddenly before me, and Alice's voice, still unsteady halted my movements.
"They won't." Her voice was so unlike her, breathy and desperate. "He's too valuable to them. They only did what they did to keep him from warning us, they knew they'd never get past the boarder alive if we pursued them in time."
"Are you making excuses for them Alice!?" I screamed and my own voice startled me. I had never yelled at Alice.
"Bella!" She gasped as hurt washed across her face. "No! What they did was—it was awful." If I didn't know it was impossible for vampires to pale, I would have sworn Alice did just then. I wanted to apologize, but my next fear needed to be addressed first.
"And Renesmee?" I watched her carefully.
"We'll never catch them in time, I'm sorry." Her eyes were wide and sincere. "Maybe if their decision hadn't been made at the last second, I could have caught it in time. When Aro touched my hand in Volterra, he was able to see and understand how my visions work, he knows how to find holes in it." I swallowed out of habit and nodded, blinking back tears that weren't there.
"Will he survive?" Her face froze into her practiced mask and I knew the answer to question wasn't something I wanted to hear. Jasper was strategizing, looking between Emmet and I carefully.
"Can we trust you to stay here, or do we need to leave Emmet here to hold you?" Jasper's face told me that this was no time to be difficult. Honesty was best.
"Emmet needs to go with you, but you should probably have Esme and Rosalie hold me." At least I could be rational. Or maybe my honesty meant I was having a sudden fit of hysterics. Could vampires go into hysterics? I tried not to think, tried to shut my mind off. I locked eyes with Jasper, and could see that my reply had startled him. "I'm fine!" I growled. "Help Edward, please!" He nodded and we had an understanding. I let my eyes dart to Carlisle and Alice's faces. His was still seemingly calm, but the tightness in his eyes told me that he feared the worst. Alice's face was tormented with guilt. "This isn't your fault Alice, you couldn't have known," I whispered as Emmet slowly released me.
"I know," She murmured. "But he's my brother and having to watch them do that to him—" I put up a hand to halt her words.
"Will he…" I tried to ask the question on everyone's mind but I couldn't bring myself to voice it. "Just find him and bring him back to me." There must have been something in my voice. Their faces changed to looks of worry and Emmet's arms were suddenly raising back up to grip me. "GO!" I exploded shoving him away forcefully. If I were possible for me to cry, I would have burst into tears. "He's out there, all alone, he—" My voice broke and everyone but Esme dispersed.
"Bella—" I heard the fear in her voice as she came to hug me tightly. All I could do to keep it together was to close my eyes, hold onto her for dear eternity, and hope that my reason for everything would return to me.
I was staring out the window of Edward's old room, overlooking the river—I hadn't moved in nearly an hour—as I scanned the lines of trees for movement, my ears actually straining to detect a sound of hope that never came. I had become edgy when no word of relief had come within the first two minutes. Surly they would have reached him by then, so why hadn't they at least called? Was Edward alive? I shuddered. My mind began steering towards thoughts of Renesmee, and then into darker places and I was forced to reign it in. If I let the recent events sink in, I wasn't sure what would happen. If vampires could go into shock then I probably would, if I wasn't already.
Rosalie came bounding across the river first, when she noticed me in the window she stopped to meet my gaze for a few short seconds, the mask that I had yet to perfect covering up any emotion that had been written across her beautiful face before she darted into the house. I felt more than heard Esme pause in the doorway every few minutes, probably to make sure I hadn't gone mad and raced to Italy to declare war against the Volturi. I almost laughed, it was too late to start a war with the Volturi—they had already provoked one with me.
I heard Rosalie's voice downstairs as she spoke with Esme, purposefully keeping her words too low for me to make out.
"She hasn't said a word since you all left," Esme murmured loud enough for me to hear. I immediately tuned out whatever Rosalie's response was.
A few moments later, Emmett's arrival made me even more uneasy. Unlike Rosalie, he hid nothing. The severity of pain etched across his usually mischievous expression nearly made my knees buckle. It seemed that if the fear of loss was great enough, even immortality couldn't keep the human part of me at bay. I wanted to lean forward and press my fingertips to the glass when his face rose to watch me carefully; I wanted to plead with my eyes for reassurance. He turned away before he could give anything away and rushed inside.
I felt my core harden. If even Emmett, who had always found a way to make a joke out of the silver lining in every situation, was that distraught, then the worst had happened. I felt myself begin to close off and shut down, numbly turning away from the window I sank to the floor and the flood gates of agony opened.
I was suddenly on fire again, dying on that table as Jacob and Edward worked to save me, and then I was drowning, sinking beneath the waves of a life without Edward, and lastly I was curled into myself on the forest floor, waiting for death to take me after Edward left me. The worst moments of my life, all combined into one, multiplied by a force a thousand times so much stronger that it made me tremble, until I shut down completely.
It felt like hours had passed by the time I finally registered that someone was speaking to me. The blur of my vision began sharpen until the glare of a flashlight suddenly came into focus. Without shifting at all, my vision slowly focused farther past where the beam of light bobbed and weaved between each of my eyes to where Carlisle continued to examine me carefully. I blinked as his hand waved in front of me slowly, a frown creasing his features. I ignored him, shifting my gaze to the others in the room, touching on Esme, then Alice and Rosalie, and over to Emmett. It was at a sluggish human speed that I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
Just outside the doorway, Jasper stood with his arms crossed, his eyes fixated on something on the other side moving too quickly for me to see. His gaze darted back and forth as if he were witnessing an invisible tennis match, and I couldn't make sense of the movement. My depression had somehow suppressed my heightened senses, and my eyes couldn't move fast enough at first, but it seemed to be slowly catching up as the blur seemed to be getting easier to follow. Jasper suddenly reached out into the empty air when he noticed me watching carefully, and his hands were suddenly gripping two shoulders, turning them so that the flash of bronze hair was barely noticed as a topaz gaze slammed into mine.
It was like warmth flooded me suddenly, and my frozen heart would have jolted. I thawed out of my misery instantly when I swept the length of him, unable to detect a hair out of place. There was a long pause as it took a few moments for both of us to register and realize the condition of the other, before I noticed the strangest mix of expressions sweep his face. First shock, then relief, unconditional love bloomed into smile before his lips froze and something dark beat it back. He hesitated as obvious guilt crashed over him, making him actually take an ashamed step back. Was there an accusation on my face that I couldn't detect? I would have to remedy that reaction. I didn't even have time to think of moving.
A loud crack like thunder erupted as we crashed into each other; our hands a blur of movement as we swept across the others face and neck, reaffirming our reality. We spoke in broken, hurried sentences, finishing each other's words.
"Edward—" I was breathless.
"Bella—" The huskiness in his own voice nearly made me collapse all over again.
"I thought that you were—"
"I know," He murmured, gently tucking me against his chest. "When I arrived—"
"I couldn't bear the thought of losing you. I couldn't stop thinking about it." I gripped him tighter. "I…I just—" I was trembling again.
"Bella," He said pulling away to look at me. "You were catatonic." He said it as if the words explained the severity of his anxious expression. "You wouldn't move, or speak." I blinked blankly, not helping him calm down, as my eyes swept his perfect face. "I rushed back here as soon as Carlisle told me. I'm sorry I worried you so, Love but I couldn't bear to face you knowing I had failed to—" My fingers touched his silk lips halting his words.
"Edward." I took a shaky breath. "You're alive." The awe in my words and tremors in my voice made him grip me tighter. "That's all that matters right now." I lunged forward, my arms locking around his neck as my lips pressed into his, my fingers tangling in his windblown hair. I kissed him hard on the mouth, and felt him shudder against me, his palms cupping my face.
The way he held me suddenly didn't feel right; it was too careful and distant. I could smell the newness of the clothes he was wearing; cotton and denim, making me pull back suddenly to look at him searchingly.
"Bella?" he raised a brow slightly.
I jerked the sleeve of his shirt up, and pulled the collar of his shirt to the side, and gaped when my eyes finally saw them—fine hairline cracks in his skin, running the length of his collar bone, and at his elbows. I darted a few steps back and gasped, covering my mouth with both hands to keep from screaming. He followed my movement, taking my hands in his and pressing my palms to his chest.
"I'm fine." He murmured trying to reassure me, making me glare ridiculously at him.
"Edward, they—" The words choked me. "I can see it, where they tore you apart! They tore you apart!" I screamed jerking away.
He tried to console me, "I'm healing already, I'm—"
"Don't you dare tell me that you're fine!" I shouted hysterically making him flinch. I was breathing quick breaths that I didn't even need, unable to control my lungs as my chest heaved rapidly. He took a deep breath and grabbed me suddenly.
"Listen to me!" He demanded pleadingly. "I...am...going...to be alright." Each word was said very slowly. I blinked up into his topaz gaze, and then I fell apart, collapsing against his chest and sobbing tearlessly, almost screaming, gripping fistfulls of his shirt.
It was a few moments later, filled with him silently rocking me against him as I shook and moaned trying to verbally expel my grief, before I quieted.
"What took you so long to come back?" I whispered finally pulling back just enough to look up into his face. He heaved a deep breath and swallowed averting his gaze from mine to stare at the ceiling for a long moment. "Edward?" I blinked worriedly and pulled back farther, touching my fingers to the perfect plane of his cheek.
"I couldn't." His voice was suddenly restrained and he still wouldn't look at me.
"Couldn't?" I was perplexed. "Because of what they did to you?"
He finally dropped his face to meet mine, pressing his forehead to mine, closing his eyes, before sliding his cheek to rest against the top of my head, holding me tighter. "Because I couldn't face you." His voice was hollow.
I pulled away, suddenly needing to see his face, to understand. "I couldn't come home to you alone," My mind was still grasping for meaning and then he said it: "Not without her."
A sick feeling rolled in my gut, like a swift punch, and I slid to my knees holding my abdomen. Whatever walls my mind had thrown up to shut the truth out in an attempt to protect me, crumbled. My shock broke, and I screamed. No! NO!
Edward backed away from me. I ignored the others who suddenly went rigid. Renesmee! I pitched forward, my face in my hands against the wooden floor as my hair fell in a long dark curtain around me. I kept screaming.
"My baby!" I shrieked. "My baby!" I sobbed into my hands, angered by the fact that I had no tears to cry with when I desperately needed something in my body to react. I weakly pushed up, my entire body shaking in ways it hadn't since I had been human as I continued to heave and cry out sporadically filled with hysteria.
"I'm sorry." Edwards voice silenced me abruptly as my eyes met his where he was sitting on the floor against the opposite wall from me, his fingers gripping his hair as if he would rip it out, his head hung in his palms. "Forgive me, Bella, please forgive me."
I crawled to him at vampire speed, my fingers replacing his gently as I cupped his face in my hands. "This is not your fault." I shook him until he looked at me, and his face showed the agony of his guilt. "Edward," I cried and he blinked at me as the break in my voice when I said his name clawed at him, "Edward, they have our little girl." My voice was barely audible, a choked sobbing whisper. "They took her." I cried as the full weight settled upon me. My voice dropped lower and darker as I stared. "I'm going to kill all of them for this." His eyes grew wide. "All of them, Edward." I said it firmly, as his face suddenly morphed into something I had never seen before, some hardened resolve, sinister and vindictive. I'm sure mine was the same.
The Volturi had returned, and had taken my baby from me, intent on learning the secrets of a half life of immortality, determined that she would join them. They were still in the business of collecting abilities. I remembered this. The month of agony, in search of hope, that she was still alive. When word had come that the Volturi indeed had her, the confirmation sent me into such a rage that it had been insurmountable. My wrath had blinded me, as I raced into the forest, tearing down trees and ripping them to shreds, crushing boulders with my fists, destroying everything in my path. It wasn't until Edward's arms were suddenly around me, holding me to him that I collapsed, tearless sobs wracking my body as we both sank to the ground.
"We'll find her." He had promised, whispering a low murmur in my ear. "We'll get her back, Love. I swear this to you." I shuddered and continued to sob, knowing that this time, no peaceful compromise would be made. I would kill them all, or die trying.
This was war.
Immediately after my breakdown, the rest of the Cullen's had scattered to the far corners of the earth, recruiting the legions of vampires that would be outraged by this treachery, to fight in our war against the Volturi. I knew that this time, no one would hesitate, no one would refuse, and this time, when they stood by our side, many would die.
While the others built up the forces we would need to even consider a victory possible, Edward, Jacob and I had gone to Italy to scout for her whereabouts.
Jacob. Every memory we'd shared came to me in a clear bright flutter of clips, it wasn't startling…it was pleasantly pouring into me, like filling up a cup. Jacob didn't have any secrets for me to uncover, he never had, and he was my best friend. He'd always been Jake. Jacob. My Jacob.
My mind was abruptly pulled back. Jacob had been every bit destroyed by Renesmee's absence as the trees had been by my hands. Jacob was on a crusade, and nothing would stop him, just like nothing would stop Edward and I. Once we learned where the Volturi had been keeping her, deep in the catacombs of their stalwart fortress, it wasn't long before we received word that we had more than enough allies, willing to aid us in our warfare, whatever the cost. Edward and Jacob had left me alone earlier that morning, on their way to greet the others upon their arrival, filling them in on what we'd discovered and our plan of attack, and they would be returning within the hour, with the rest of our defenders in tow, and then, the battle would begin.
I sat quietly, staring out the window of the inn of which had been our shelter for the past week, mulling over thoughts in my head as I watched the sun slowly dying upon the horizon. When it sank into oblivion I steeled myself as the edge of fear washed over me. I felt as if my dead heart were frozen.
It was twilight.
The sky was red, foreshadowing the carnage to come. Plans had been made, the lines had been drawn, and blood would be spilt tonight.
Unexpectedly, a scent so strong, so familiar, I couldn't ignore it, was filling my senses and I stiffened when I heard a small voice, echo in the arising darkness of the night.
I wasn't sure I had really heard it, until it was there again.
"Momma, where are you?"
I lurched to my feet and if my heart could, it would have been pounding.
"Momma, I'm frightened."
I threw myself through the window in an instant, and when I hit the ground I was already running before the shattered glass littered the sidewalk, in a blur of motion, as I sped through the city. Edward would find me gone when he returned but he would follow my scent and immediately know where I had gone. There was only one place I would go. They had bait that I could not resist.
"Momma, I need you."
I didn't think as I ran, propelling me faster, weaving around buildings and through the narrow streets. My rage and terror blinding me, as I barreled my way through the entryway of Volterra's crypt…where all of hell's evil existed. I never met resistance; I never saw any opposition as my senses carried me farther down, through decrepit corridors and decaying tunnels. I couldn't remember how long I'd been running, it seemed like forever, and forever was a long time for a Vampire. Renesmee's tiny, throbbing heartbeat was calling to me; leading me down the ancient stone passageway, until it was pounding in my ears, and I knew that she was there, on the other side of a set of high, elegantly arching, iron plated, ebony wood doors, barring me from her.
I felt the fury rage within me, as I pounded into the wood and it groaned in resistance, but didn't cave, making my eyes widen. I narrowed my eyes angrily and heaved forward again, this time the wood bowed against the force behind my assault, and I heard a sharp crack break the air.
The shriek of terror, more real than before, on the other side ripped through me, and I screamed, throwing myself against the barrier, and it gave way, splintering off its hinges, in a long moan of timber and iron, as I broke through. In a blur I saw the memories of the room I had entered, debris flying everywhere, as I came to an abrupt stop, halting my momentum a few steps past the entrance. They were all there. Waiting for me. They knew I would come. They knew the weakness, of the love only a mother knows, a mother's love for her child. I had been trapped, lured, and Renesmee had been the bait. I had been foolish. Careless. I thought that I could save her on my own. And I'd been wrong…dead wrong.
I registered my surroundings. The room was roughly the size of a small auditorium, a wide flat plane of stone made up the lower level, and 15 layers of wide stone steps, 5 feet deep each, reaching from wall to wall, arched upward, concaving into a small platform roughly 10 feet in diameter. It took me a split second to finally notice the deep pit in front of me, 20 feet from where I stood in the doorway, the width of a large round pool. Only it wasn't filled with water, it was filled with fire. Bright flames danced across the mouth of its opening, creeping heat through the air, crackling and burning, as the blaze begged at the edges for more than tinder and air to devour. This was the execution chamber. Where they tore vampire's limb from limb, and then discarded their remains into the trench of hell's fire.
I cataloged the presence and position of them all in my mind, but my only focus, was Renesmee. She was restrained in the arms of Jane and Alec, who were standing on one of the higher layers, her eyes wide and frightened, but they calmed when she saw me, before widening in fear.
"Momma!" She screamed and I ground my teeth and tightened my fists. I couldn't wrap my shield around her with her close proximity to Alec and Jane, it would render me vulnerable to their attacks.
"Hush now, darling." I tried to sound soothing and strong, but my fear bled through my words. "Everything's going to be all right."
Aro sat quietly, patiently, raising a curious brow, watching me with cool eyes from atop from what almost seemed like a throne, Renata standing to his left, with a hand gracefully curved atop his shoulder, Marcus and Caius to his right. A tall, gaunt, vampire that I didn't recognize, with shortly cropped brown hair and chiseled features, stared silently at me, leaning casually back against the stone wall behind Aro, his arms crossed, his eyes narrowed, as he studied my face. He couldn't have been less than 30 when he'd died. Crouched before them all, baring their teeth and snarling, were the rest of the guard. Demetri, Afton, Chelsea, Heidi, Santiago, Corin, and Felix in back, and ten unnamed vampires in front. They were the expendable assets, layered defensively, and staggered on each step. "I have to say…" Aro mused, bringing my attention back to him, showing shock on his face. "That was quite impressive Bella." I glared at him. "Even I, have never penetrated one of our guardian doors before with such…ease." I ignored him; I didn't give a damn about his compliments. I moved in a blur of motion, around the pit of fire, so that I was standing at the base of the stairs, glaring up at them all.
"And I'm a bit disappointed." I ground out. "Insulted even." I strengthened my resolve, keeping the fear from my voice. "That you think this is all it takes to stop me? All it will take to keep me from shredding you limb from limb for your treacherous actions?" I narrowed my eyes at him, I was bluffing through my teeth, channeling Edwards elegant wording as I spoke.
"I think you overestimate your abilities, my dear." He frowned.
"We'll see." I spat. "Where is your vast entourage of witnesses?" I asked mockingly. "Was no one willing to stand idly by you, while you continue to commit to another set of atrocities in your lust for power?" His hands fisted slightly. Good. I wanted him angry. I wanted him careless. "Have your subjects abandoned you?" I glared angrily up at him.
"As you can see Bella, there are many who still serve me." He motioned to the guard as Caius and Marcus shot him an irritated glance each. There we go. I smiled to myself. Piss off your allies Aro.
"These are all the pawns you could find to waste their lives for your cowardice?" I smirked crossing my arms. Aro's eyes tightened as they flickered to the side. My eyes flew to Renesmee where she was still protesting against Alec and Jane's hold on her, suddenly her eyes went blank and she froze, as if someone had hit the pause button on a remote aimed at her. Alec. I stiffened visibly before my eyes found Aro's again.
"Let. Her. Go." My voice wasn't mine anymore, it was something dark and hate filled, as each word was spat from between my lips like acid.
"Bella, our last meeting wasn't anything less than pleasant." He smiled blandly. I snorted.
"You have a warped idea of what you consider pleasant." I muttered darkly.
"Did we harm you in any way?" He asked in a polite question.
"If you'd had your way, you would have." I glared.
"Nonsense!" He gasped looking insulted. "My entire intent was to but…investigate, your situation." I raised a dubious brow.
"Investigate?" I retorted. "You needed to scrape up every means of force to investigate?" I quoted the words with my fingers. He smiled politely again and it was starting to get on my nerves.
"Merely protocol." He murmured.
"Well, your protocol was highly unnecessary if you'll remember." I reminded him.
"Better safe than sorry." He smiled. "And if I remember correctly, your eclectic assortment of comrades wasn't exactly…undersized, itself."
I grinned. "Better to be safe than sorry." I threw back at him.
"In any case," He waved a hand delicately in the air. "We had a very polite discussion." I snorted, throwing my head back in a bark of laughter. His eyes widened. "You disagree?" He murmured.
"Wholeheartedly." I spat.
"I do not understand why-" He began but I cut him off.
"Sure we had a polite discussion." I muttered lowly with a shrug. "While your guards were silently attacking me." I eyed him pointedly.
"Again, merely a precaution." He smiled. "We had no idea your talents were so…advanced." He chose his words carefully. What he was really saying is that I'd knocked them all on their asses in surprise.
"I surprised a lot of people with that." I grinned.
"Yes, yes you did." He sighed. "Still, despite your defenses, we made no move to cause a conflict." He insisted.
"Really?" I asked showing my skeptical disagreement with my voice.
"Truly!" He exclaimed shockingly. "Both of our goals were peaceful were they not? There is no reason why this time should be any different."
"I beg to differ." I snarled leaning forward to take a step up, but Aro made a face as Jane and Alec moved in a blur of motion to position their open jaws at either side of Renesmee's frozen neck, a paper thin amount of space from her skin, their razor sharp teeth glistening, and reflecting glints of firelight. I froze. I had no idea what vampire venom would do to her. It could make her fully vampire, it could kill her for all I knew. I couldn't risk that.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Aro smiled, his face and voice still pleasant. My eyes came back to him where he watched me. We were both still for a long moment, until Aro raised a quizzical brow. "You've piqued my curiosity Bella."
"Whoop-ti-doo." I shrugged apathetically and his eyes narrowed but he ignored me.
"I wonder how strong, your…love, truly is." He tilted his head slightly, watching me carefully. I grinned wildly in a flash of teeth.
"Strong enough to help me kill you before I die." I murmured menacingly. I meant it too. He frowned this time.
"Perhaps." He flung carelessly. "But is it strong enough to keep you from killing your own daughter?" My whole posture sagged suddenly at his question, as shock and sheer terror welled up within me.
"What?" I asked numbly.
"Do you think, in your blind attachment to her, that you can honestly save her from yourself?" He was grinning suddenly and a strange feeling of foreboding inched its way along my skin. I glared at him suddenly.
"I would never hurt her." I ground out, my hands clenching tighter.
"Never?" He asked unconvinced.
"Never!" I screamed. He didn't flinch, he just continued to smile, that same unnervingly impassive smile at me.
"I'm not so sure about that." He grinned, before turning his head slowly to meet the gaze of the unnamed vampire behind him. "Zachary." He called softly, and slowly, as if struggling to make the effort to keep his pace slow and even, the vampire leaned forward and pushed away from the wall. It was graceful, as if invisible strings straightened him in a fluid motion, before he took three long, slow steps forward to Aro's side. "Have I ever introduced you to my maker Bella?" Aro smiled softly, his face swinging around to meet me again. I felt the shock fill my face before I frowned. My poker face was lousy tonight. I let my expression fall into blank lines.
"Can't say I've had the pleasure." I said impassively. "Not that it would be anyway." I shrugged. "After all, how great can he be? He made you." I let the disgust bleed through my voice and Zachary's head snapped up suddenly, to meet mine incredulously, insulted, I assumed, by my disrespectful tone.
"The attitude is not very wise, dear one." He glowered bestowing the endearment upon me.
"Ooo," I moaned sarcastically. "I'm so scared." I grinned, realizing that I was channeling a little bit of Jacob's unabashed humor into my words. Aro watched me, with some small strange flicker of amusement touching his brows.
"Are you not afraid to die?" He asked curiously.
"I'm not afraid to die for her." I declared firmly.
"You would die for her?" His face was alight with surprise suddenly.
"I would." I nodded. I will.
"And Edward?" I felt a jolt of pain stab through me as I thought of him, hitting me swiftly in my stomach tightening my chest. Edward. Other than Renesmee, he was the only thing I lived for. The cavalry would be here soon, but it would be too late. "Would you die for him as well?" I settled my gaze upon him, pulling myself up, gathering all my strength.
"In a nonexistent heartbeat." I vowed.
He considered me carefully, sucking in a slow; gathering breath, tasting the honesty of my words, and in that moment I heard the faintest sound, echoing from far above the chamber, down the tunnels, and stairways, through the destroyed entryway. Edward! Hope jolted me; I had to buy time, I had to stall…if I could.
"Why?" He asked quietly, and his voice was filled with some soft incomprehension.
"I love him." I whispered. "He's my every reason for dying…for living." My voice softened. "When you can live forever, what do you live for?" I asked. The whole tone of the room swiftly softened, as silence enveloped us. The only sound was the sharp hiss and pop of fire at my back, and Renesmee's thrumming heartbeat. They each slowly turned and looked at one another. Even Zachary seemed to have been moved by my words. The sound behind me echoed louder now, I prayed that in this silence none of the guard could hear it, prayed that their patience would hold, but I knew it wouldn't last long, and it didn't. They were all suddenly snarling, crouching further into an offensive position, leaping down a few steps. I realized that I'd moved, and that had been what had set them off, not the sounds from behind me.
"I live to survive." Aro chuckled suddenly, his face betraying nothing, whether or not he knew what his guards were up in arms about, or whether he had heard the commotion behind me, I couldn't tell. There was a long silence as he continued to watch me; the sound at my back grew closer. I had to protect them, as soon as the others realized the oncoming ambush, they would attack. I threw my shield wide, letting it touch from wall to wall, filling the space between the entrance and the bottom two steps. "Surviving is my only aspiration Bella." I was focused on him again. "And your daughter's talents have so many applications for ensuring that particular endeavor." He grinned as some of them edged forward.
"Why her?" I was pleading suddenly. "My ability would be of more use to you than hers." I offered reaching out a hand silently to explain, and they paused, waiting for Aro to speak. His eyes, widened suddenly.
"Would you take her place then?" He asked raising a fascinated brow.
"If it would spare her." I let my eyes flicker to my trembling child. "If you would let her go." I whispered, but my brows furrowed as I glared at him accusingly, bracing myself, standing at the ready. "But you're not going to do that are you?" I asked, rasing my own brow in question. He grinned.
"No, I'm not." He smiled.
"I didn't think so." So much for buying time.
I charged him at once, but I was only able to take a few long strides before something slammed hard against my chest, my body hitting an invisible barrier, throwing me backwards harshly, to land with a thud against the stone floor, my head hitting with a sharp crack and I was suddenly in the dark, an endless night that even my vampire eyes couldn't see through. Renesmee's scream, pierced the air, but it began to fade, until nothing was left but a soft, muffled moaned in the dark, low and eerie. It was in my head, swirling images around, disorienting my sense of self. I wasn't anywhere, I was lost. Trapped in my own mind. I was aware that I was on my side, being held, and knotted against myself, by my own limbs, which I had no control over anymore, struggling against the ground.
"Zachary has a very special talent Bella." It was Aro's voice ringing out in that darkness. "Interesting, is it not?" Sharp humming echoed suddenly in my ears. "You may be able to hide your mind from me…" There was laughter, grating through my mind, like nails on a chalk board, and I screamed, covering my ears as if they were burning. My scalp was on fire, a sharp throbbing in my head, as if my skull was splitting. I continued to scream. "But your body still responds to our most basic of needs." He whispered. I felt heat coursing through me, blazing wildly and there was no way to stop it. "You cannot fight what your body craves Bella, you cannot fight what you are, what it is, in your nature to do." Flames burst inside of me, an explosion of heat and pain. I couldn't see anything but the darkness, but I felt heat swirl across my skin, tiny needle points of pain searing me. "You cannot deny the blood that pulls you in." I smelled it then. The sweet intoxicating aroma. It was like acid in my throat, venom filling my mouth, as I choked, and the dark hunger rose within me, blinding my senses. I saw blood. I was in an ocean of blood. I wanted to drink it up, to swallow it, and feel it coursing down my throat. "The desire raging inside of you." I was scrambling up on my hands and knees, following blindly where that delicious smell led me. I felt stone beneath my palms, but I was waiting for warm, pliant skin to be within my grasp. Where was that luscious scent coming from? "No matter the victim, you cannot deny the hunger for human blood in your mouth." I felt my body jerk, and then freeze suddenly at those words, shoving the heat aside for a quick moment. No! Not Renesmee! My spine bowed as I fought to hold myself, curled against my body, tried not to move, tried not to follow where that scent was leading me. "This is Zachary's specialty." Aro's voice was mocking as he noticed my attempt to fight against myself. "He can summon the deepest, darkest raging thirst within a single person, or just call it to the surface in many." I squeezed my eyes shut, even though I could see nothing already, just in case my vision was to suddenly return. Because I didn't want to see anything, I didn't want to know where she was. "Useful is it not? He has the one ability even you cannot fight my dear Bella." The laughter was there again. "He can call your demons out from within you." I heard her heartbeat suddenly, like the flutter of a humming bird's wings, but it was so impossibly loud. "Every drop of her blood will sing for you, calling you to taste." I screamed wordlessly against the bonds of searing heat that wrapped my skin, like a cocoon of fire, while flames ate their way up my throat inside of me. "You want her, to taste her. La tua cantante." White light burst behind my eyes, and I screamed, a high piercing, blood curdling shriek of terror and pain, and the searing fire, slicing through my consciousness, was like no pain I'd ever felt before, blinding me, twisting me, into the monster I'd held at bay, as the thirst flared to life. "Kill her!" He screamed and my eyes flew wide, and I saw everything, my sight zeroing in on the pathetic child, a few steps before me, squirming helplessly in firm hands, blood dripping down her skin from an open wound at her wrist. She wasn't my daughter anymore, she was my prey. I swallowed hard, as heat scorched my tongue, irradiating my mouth and throat, the thirst was unquenchable, it would never cease until I tasted her blood and her blood alone. Even the venom flooding across my tongue could not put out the flames. I did want her, and all I could focus on, was her blood, bright red against her alabaster skin, falling wastefully to pool on the stone steps. I crouched low, a snarl ripping from my burning throat, as Alec and Jane leaned away from their once again statuesque captive, preparing for my attack.
Someone suddenly shouted. "They're coming, they're here!" Aro was on his feet, his eyes blazing.
"We couldn't hear them!" Marcus's eyes were wide.
"They've impeded our senses!" Aro swore harshly as the sound of a stampede thudded suddenly from right outside the room, before breaking through, ringing loud and clear. I felt tiny pricks of light flare to life inside my head as one by one they passed into my shield. I ignored it all. Most of the Volturi guards suddenly rushed past me, down the steps, in a blur of motion, ignoring me where I was crumpled against the stairs, their own bursts of light appearing, leaving only Aro, Renata, Zachary, Chelsea, Jane, and Alec outside of my protection. I paid them no mind, I didn't care. All that mattered was the child and the blood, her blood. Alec and Jane's eyes flew wide when their mental attacks on the others behind me failed, and their grip on her arms lessened. Alec lost his focus, and the child suddenly came to life, ripping her bleeding arm away from his grasp, flecks of her blood hitting me on the face. I closed my eyes as I sucked in a sharp breath, inhaling the scent as my tongue licked upward, catching one of the droplets that had be speckled my upper lip.
"How is she still able to control her shield?" Aro screamed at Zachary. "It's protecting them!" He snarled.
Suddenly a torrent of thunderous cracks ripped through the air from behind me, and I saw body parts all of a sudden, landing in pieces around me, as snarls echoed, the sound of harsh grating scrapes, as limbs were ripped apart.
"Do something!" Aro railed wildly. Zachary focused. Delectable hunger swiftly flared through me, stronger this time, my shield fluttered softly, but remained in place, and my vision went red as the thirst filled me, once again targeting the small child. I could see nothing else. I grinned. Showing a flash of razor sharp teeth coated in venom, and lunged forward for the girl.
Something struck me hard, hitting me from the side, as a booming growl was heard, shoving me, thudding down the stone steps, until I landed at the bottom, sliding across the flat surface until I was able to catch myself, my fingers digging into the ground, coming to a halt mere inches from the mouth of the fiery pit. I whipped around quickly, crouching low on one knee and hissed, as my eyes met the razor jaws and amber eyes of a large wolf, standing where I had been moments before on the stairs, blocking my view of the child. Jacob! I hissed angrily in my head.
From the corner of my eye I caught glimpses of the war raging across from me, on the other side of the pit, distracting me. Several faces I didn't recognize along with Esme, were wrestling with Corin's thrashing body. Jasper and Emmet, back to back, taking long swipes at another pair of defenseless vampires who I recognized as Felix and Santiago. Rosalie's jaws were ripping through Heidi's throat. Several other unnamed vampires circled Demetri. Kate and Tanya had Caius down on the ground as Carmen and Eleazar ripped his arms and legs from his body, leaving only a screaming head and torso, before they tossed them into the fire. Stefan held Marcus in his arms as Vladimir ripped off his head in one fast swipe, rolling it across the ground and over the edge of the pit and into the flames. Some of the bubbles of light inside my shield burst from existence. The Volturi were easily outnumbered, five to one.
A high howl of agonizing pain brought me back around to where Jane was standing over the twitching body of the russet wolf, her eyes blazing wildly. Jacob! The thirst receded as I thought his name. Racing blindly forward, I launched myself at her, pinning her to the floor. My hands were clawing at her wildly, enraged, breaking off pieces of her like bits of clay, until her body was a distorted pile of flesh between my fingers.
"No!" Alec's cry of fury made my eyes swing back to where he held Renesmee. He suddenly looked impassive as Chelsea narrowed her eyes at him, attempting to rip away his attachment for the corpse in my arms, to keep him focused on holding the child. I flung the remains to the side carelessly, and took a step forward, as the smell of her blood hit me again, and the thirst flared to life, overtaking all of my senses. I stood blindly, slowly, taking a forward step, my eyes trained on her. There was no escape for her now.
Alec released Renesmee, handing her off to Chelsea, my eyes following her, and Renata clasped a hand firmly on her shoulder, keeping in contact with Aro the whole time. I was tackled suddenly, this time; the impact forced my body all the way to the far left wall, hitting it with a resounding crash, cracking the foundation, as dust burst around us. I turned, talon like fingers ripping their way across my arms, as I faced Alec with all the rage of hell in his eyes. Obviously Chelsea's power wasn't as strong as she thought it was, that, or Alec's love for Jane was stronger, which I couldn't fathom. I hissed loudly, enraged at his intervention, but my anger was rewarded when seconds later, over Alec's shoulder I caught Chelsea's vindictive smile as she shoved the child towards me, sending her flying through the air, attacking Jacob simultaneously, keeping him from repeating his previous rescue. Renesmee landed a few meters before me, knocked unconscious, and my eyes narrowed. Gathering my strength I pushed hard, flinging Alec's form at the perfect angle, arcing high into the air, and when it finally descended, his figure suddenly disappeared into the pool of fire.
A figure standing frozen across the open pit, stared at me with wide horrified eyes, and I felt my chest tighten painfully, causing me to suck in a breath. It was Edward, standing tall, with fire reflecting in his topaz gaze. I thought my heart might burst at the sight of him, as the thirst receded more than it had before, allowing me full control of myself for a moment. I clenched my entire body, warping my shield, focusing on the members of our party, so that it hugged them like a second skin.
"Go!" Someone shouted and my eyes caught sight of a throng of enemy vampires retreating back up the stone isles, as our entire army descended upon them, Carlisle in the lead, Alice and the rest of the Cullen's right behind him, as they swarmed up the steps to rush them, Chelsea, Renata and Aro .
"Bella watch out!" My eyes flew back to Edward where he was reaching out his hand to me from miles away it seemed suddenly, his voiced strained in pain, as a hand clasped abruptly around my throat, throwing me back to pin me up against the wall. Zachary's eyes filled my vision and I couldn't break his hold. His touch numbed me. Several others turned to aid me, but he flung the hand that wasn't wrapped around my neck wide, towards them, and they all crumpled to the ground, the thirst knocking them off their feet, not as strongly, as it had done to me. Shrieks and moans of pain filled the hall. "Bella!" Edward called, on his knees in agony, clutching his throat, still reaching for me across the flames.
"No one refuses my call!" Zachary snarled bringing my eyes back to his where they were filled with cold fury. "Do not defy me! I command you!" He screamed pulling my limp body forward before slamming it back into the rock wall with a force that jostled me. "Now feed on your wretched prey!" He screamed. I was on fire on the inside suddenly, a deep fissure of flames ripping through me. It was excruciating. The thirst seared my throat, scorching my mouth, a fresh flow of venom spilling across my tongue, as he released me, dropping me to my feet, and I was frozen in place. The frail body of the child twitched, as she finally regained consciousness, pushing up slowly, blinking with wide impossible eyes as she looked around, suddenly aware of her surroundings. Her tiny flickering heartbeat flared to life violently in panic. I caught the scent of her blood and it hit me like a swift punch to my gut. I was suddenly mad with hunger, crazed beyond all definition of insanity.
Blood. Blood. Blood.
That's all there was, I was a zombie, a single tracked mind, I was a killer, a monster…and I was going to kill her. Renesmee looked upwards suddenly, her eyes going wide when she met mine, and then she screamed. It only excited me more and I was moving forward in a slow purposeful stride, sensing Zachary at my back, keeping close to keep the thirst boiling my veins. She scrambled up suddenly on to her hands and knees, backing away closer to the pit of fire, her eyes panicked. There was anticipation suddenly, in the thrill of the chase as I closed in on her. This was the killing dance, and she was the sacrifice. I moved in a blur of motion and reached her in an instant, my hand flying out to grab her beneath the chin, pinching my fingers around her jaw, bruising her skin, raising her up off her knees. The only way she could break my grasp would be to twist her body harshly and break her neck. I couldn't allow that, her blood would start to cool if she were to die. I lifted her higher, and her hands gripped my wrist, as the toes of her sneakers left the ground. She opened her mouth and another blood curdling scream erupted from her. I smiled, lifting her so that her gaze was level with mine, and in its reflection I saw my face filled in hunger, my amber eyes coated in a thick red shell. It did nothing to dispel me, as I slowly pulled her to me, closing my eyes, inhaling her scent. The open wound reeked with the smell of her luscious blood, sending me into a frenzy, as my eyes darted down to her wrist where it flailed against her struggles. My free hand snapped out to capture it in a crushing hold, slowly bringing it to my face. It was inches from me. I squeezed her porcelain skin, and blood seeped quicker from the wound. The thirst blazed on, venom pooled in my mouth, as I parted my lips before sliding them over my teeth, preparing for the strike.
"Bella! No!" Someone screamed, piercing the air. I froze instantly, and my mind was sucked into itself, my eyes unfocusing. That voice. I knew that voice. It was beautiful, like a dream, descending upon me. An angel's voice. "She's part of you!" My vision came back to the child's wide eyes. My eyes. "She's part of me too!" The angel cried. "I love you!"
Edward! Everything exploded inside of me, the thirst shrank back, curled away from me, in fear of the power that was cooling my raging desire suddenly, filling me with another. The thirst could not hold me, it could not tame me. It could control my body, but it could never control my heart. Only Edward held that power. She was my daughter. She was me. She was him. I couldn't destroy something that was part of him.
My hands spasmed and Renesmee fell to the ground, staring up with her mouth open wide in stunned horror. I suddenly regained control over part of myself, enough to yell "Run!" She scrambled away fearfully, and harsh hands suddenly jerked me around by my shoulders, until I was abruptly facing Zachary, his eyes wide in disbelief. I suddenly realized why, as my path before me was laid out in an instance of eternity.
He'd used all his strength, every ounce of his pull, wasted it mostly on me, and I'd beat it back, when no one else could, because my love was stronger than him. But the aching hunger was still there, waiting below the surface for me to lose what little control I had, and then it would spring back, and my thirst would never be satisfied until I'd killed her. That's when the heart wrenching knowledge hit me. As soon as he was killed, his hold on the other's thirst would lessen. They hadn't been hit with everything he could muster, but I had. It would end for them; his draw on their thirst would dissipate moments after his death, but not mine. He'd called to things inside of me that couldn't be taken back, he'd pulled the thirst so far from within me, that the magic of his spell couldn't be undone. It would never end for me; it would never go away, until Renesmee's blood was in my mouth.
"No!" He snarled shaking me, and I flung his arms from me with careless ease, the power in me too strong for him to hold me. "This can't be! It's impossible!" He screamed enraged, reaching out to take hold of fistfuls of my shirt.
"No." I smiled softly grabbing his wrists. My eyes darting to the fire a few feet behind him, then they slid slowly, meeting Edward's topaz gaze, letting it linger on his angel's face one last time, before I came back to lock my gaze with Zachary's. "It's love." I whispered.
In an instant I was shoving him forward, dragging his fated corpse with me, and with his body locked onto mine I plunged us both into the endless abyss of the inferno. As the flames burned my skin, curling my flesh from my body, I drifted away, until there was almost nothing, and the last sound I heard was my name on Edwards's lips. I was suspended in nonexistence, there wasn't dark, or light, there wasn't anything. I didn't exist anymore. My life was over. I was dead.
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