Disclaimer: Twilight and all associated characters, plots, settings, etc are the intellectual property of Stephenie Meyer. I am in no way associated with Ms. Meyer and own only the unique and original plot material. No copyright infringement is intended.
by Mindy Lents
The warm sun from above contrasted pleasantly with the cool grass beneath me. I closed my eyes to focus on the silken fingertips stroking my arm, sending little electric shocks through my body. This was heaven.
I felt Edward shift just before his shadow fell over my face. I opened my eyes, smiling at him.
“Still dreading tonight, my Bella?” he wondered, flashing my favorite crooked smile.
I rolled my eyes, but couldn’t stop myself from inhaling his wonderful honey-lilac-and-sun scent. It was no less intoxicating than it had been on my rebirthday nearly 100 years earlier. “Honestly, Edward. Just because I lack Alice’s enthusiasm for parties doesn’t mean I dread them.”
His golden eyes sparkled and he leaned down to nuzzle my neck. “Good. I for one am anticipating our centennial.”
“I figured you’d be more excited for our 106th when our married years will finally outnumber your years alone.”
“I thrill at every moment we spend together,” he kissed down the line of my jaw. “But now that you mention it, I do have some thoughts about that particular day…”
I pushed him back to eye him suspiciously. “What, exactly?”
“Isle Esme,” he suggested, peering at me through his thick lashes.
Dazzled again, I blinked dumbly. “I have to wait six more years?”
Edward laughed. “Alice was helping me plan it for this year. But with the baby coming, I knew neither of us would want to be away.” He kissed me before reluctantly adding, “It’s time we head back, love. They’re all waiting on us.”
He jumped to his feet before sweeping me off the ground. We shot through the forest to the timeless white house where we’d started our marriage. Our family was there, eager to celebrate this milestone. With them were old friends, some dating even further back than our first confrontation with the now-extinct Volturi.
The Volturi’s strength eroded as the story of our first encounter spread around the world. More and more vampires lost faith in the pseudo-royals once the truth was out. Edward predicted that they would try to destroy those that stood against them, but given the talent in our family Aro focused on us. We became their favorite scapegoats.
Our friends stood by us, of course. The relationships forged in a trial by fire flourished as the years passed. Those with whom we were close chafed at the way we were treated. On the upside, we grew closer.
A rash of werewolf attacks in Europe shortly after we moved there was blamed on Jacob and his brothers. But eyewitnesses noted the wolves in question only changed with the moon, refuting that charge.
Then they claimed we were dangerously close to revealing the secret, citing the fact that we lived among humans as the reason why vampire stories were growing more popular. But the world still had no idea what a real vampire could do and it was with utter disdain that most ignored the power plays of the dying dynasty.
After that Eleazar actually visited Italy on our behalf. I didn’t know what he said, but questions were raised. I imagine it had something to do with the revelation he had over Aro’s motives because for a while they left us in peace.
Until they made the biggest mistake of their existence. They interrupted my daughter’s wedding.
* * *
“I’m ready, Momma,” Renesmee murmured.
I turned away from the window overlooking the Sol Duc River and my breath caught at the perfection before me; she certainly took after Edward. I would have cried if I could have.
My pause unnerved her because before I could respond, my miracle daughter’s anxiety peaked. “Momma?”
I stroked her cheek, “You look beyond beautiful, sweetheart.”
She touched my face, sharing her thoughts about what was to come. The gentle music playing over her father’s ridiculously expensive stereo fit the mood.
“I know,” I whispered. “I’m so proud of you. I love you so much. Let’s finish up.”
Her smile was so full of hope and warmth it dazzled me the way her father’s often did. Carefully gathering her skirts, we maneuvered her into a chair so I could style her hair. Alice, Rosalie and Esme were more than willing to help, but Renesmee asked for me alone. I wasn’t losing a daughter anymore than I was gaining a son, but this was a goodbye for us. I supposed weddings always were.
I reflected on my family while combing her bronze curls, pinning them back with the same sapphire combs I’d worn eighteen years earlier. Though imprinting was stronger than any marriage, this was what Renesmee and Jacob wanted; a normal, human ceremony.
If Nessie wanted it, she got it; I could never deny my baby. It’s not like any of us could help it. Renesmee was not strictly unique, but she was ours to protect, nurture, love and cherish. I worried she would be spoiled, but Rosalie was right. The attention never went to her head. In return, Ness sparked a profound change in our family, bringing out the best in us.
I didn’t think it possible for Esme to grow more maternal or Carlisle more compassionate, but they did. My second mother was perpetually there with her seemingly limitless expertise. She was, as always, kind and nurturing to us all. Carlisle went back to school twice, wanting to be prepared. He had a new degree in veterinary medicine and added a new specialty – pediatrics.
Doing the impossible, Nessie melted Rosalie’s heart. Rose was kinder and more understanding. She still had her prickly moments but she was more flower than thorn, even putting up with Jacob’s “Blonde Joke of the Day” for nearly twenty years. Emmett was wrapped around my girl’s little finger. The perfect mix of playful and protective, he tempered our family’s tendency to overreact and ensured we had fun with life. What’s more, he made sure Nessie’s childhood lacked nothing.
The difference in Alice was strange; Ness seemed to simultaneously diminish and intensify her exuberance. It was an adjustment for my sister, being unable to see as clearly. But she grew to accept it and the difficulty did fade. It helped that Nessie often joined in with her elaborate parties and surprises.
Jasper’s transformation was the most profound. Edward argued that it was more my doing than Renesmee’s but I disagreed. Between nearly constant exposure to Ness along with the intermittent visits from Charlie, Sue and others, Jasper was frequently tested. Since he felt how strongly she cared for them, he rededicated himself to our lifestyle to keep from hurting anyone. His self-control now rivaled Edward’s and he was happier for it.
In a cruel trick of fate, the moment I slid the final bobby pin into her hair, Edward burst in looking panicked. I instinctively moved to put Renesmee between us.
“Edward, what’s wrong?”
“Alice just saw it,” he answered before I finished. “The Volturi are coming.”
I saw red. “Where are the others?”
“Locking down the house.”
“How long do we have?” my final question came out as a feral growl.
“Within the hour.” Edward glanced down at our daughter’s terrified face and his tone softened as he answered her silent questions, “Jacob is fine. He’s with the family; they’re on their way. I don’t know why, sweetheart. I’m so sorry.”
My eyes locked with his and we moved to comfort our little girl. Tears ran down her cheeks, spattering the satin of her gown as she cried silently. With one hand pressed to each of our necks, she shared her despair as only she could, knowing she would soon have to be strong. Edward hummed her lullaby then mine while we held her.
Renesmee’s misery on her wedding day was criminal and they would pay for causing it. I considered the strengths and weaknesses of each side, mentally debating our chances. I was missing something vitally important; I just couldn’t figure out what.
Edward touched my arm in warning just before the door flew open again. Jacob hurtled across the room to hover over us, the others close behind him.
“Are you okay, Ness?” he demanded softly.
“What do you think?” Rosalie’s tone was sharp. “Why can’t they leave her alone?”
“Not her,” Alice sounded resigned. “Him.”
Renesmee’s head snapped up, “What?”
“Aro knows you broke our treaty and that you phased in front of Charlie. He considered our ties tenuous before and ignored it. But marriage is out of the question. You’re a risk to the secret.”
Both Jake and Ness appeared shell-shocked while Edward, Jasper and Emmett swore colorfully. Esme’s worried eyes never left Nessie’s face. Rosalie seemed ready to rip Aro apart herself. I had never seen Alice look so menacing and even Carlisle was livid. No one made Nessie cry.
“He’s done nothing wrong,” Carlisle protested darkly.
Emmett snarled, “That doesn’t matter to them!”
“The others are waiting,” Nessie interrupted, mature far beyond her years. “We need to explain.”
Seth, Quil, Embry, and Sam were right outside Edward’s door and fell in without question. The Denali worriedly paced the second floor. The Amazonians, Benjamin and Tia lingered near the front door, their strange muddy orange eyes, the product of an animal diet supplemented by blood banks, full of concern. Further away but no less worried were Peter and Charlotte; Siobhan, Liam, and Maggie; and a host of others we’d come to know over the past two decades. The humans in attendance were safe under Leah’s careful supervision in Carlisle’s office.
All eyes focused on Alice.
“We meet them outside, but I can’t see anything...” Though she had honed her ability to see around Nessie and the pack, there were too many decisions to be made.
Garrett snorted, “Doesn’t matter.”
“We’re with you,” Benjamin added.
The others concurred, glancing at Renesmee.
We lined up on the lawn – Emmett, Rosalie, Esme, Carlisle, Edward, me, Alice and Jasper in front of Nessie and Jacob, who stayed human. Embry and Sam stood to Jake’s right, Quil and Seth to Ness’s left. The members of Sam’s pack who still phased formed a semi-circle around them. Our friends filled in the space and it was second nature for me to project my shield over everyone.
The Volturi’s normal pageantry was absent; the guard moved disinterestedly. Carlisle and Aro exchanged pleasantries, avoiding the invisible line separating us.
“I hate to do this, Carlisle old friend. But I must object,” the tyrant sounded condescending rather than regretful. “This boy cannot be trusted.”
I could hear the tension in Carlisle’s voice. “I don’t understand the problem, Aro. Jacob had your trust in the past. He’s still part of our supernatural world. What changed?”
Aro’s face twisted into a parody of a sad smile, “A misunderstanding. I was unaware that he was so close to your coven.”
“Family,” Carlisle corrected.
Aro waved off the term, “Family then.”
Jane frowned at Carlisle and I felt her attempt to attack him. I also felt a different kind of assault on my shield as Chelsea sneered at us.
Chelsea… the one who could influence relationships the way Jasper did emotions. She was the key; her tiny reaction might be their undoing. I could cut her off from the rest; without her, they might be swayed.
Maintaining the larger umbrella, I lifted my shield away from my mind so Edward could hear me.
I’m going to try something. Trust me.
He squeezed my hand.
“He broke your treaty, telling Bella about us,” Aro continued. “And then once she joined our world, he pulled her father in without so much as a by-your-leave from you. Rash actions cannot be tolerated. Had I known the relationship was so strong I would have stepped in earlier.”
Renesmee took an indignant step forward and I could feel her anger at the indictment. The others automatically shifted around her.
“Easy, Nessie,” Zafrina cautioned.
While they talked, I projected a bubble around the Volturi, but not Chelsea. Like half of a figure eight, I separated them from her, but kept us apart from them. She blinked and Edward gripped my hand more tightly. Her cool expression became a confused frown as she looked back and forth between Aro and us. I could feel the pressure as she tried to reestablish her control.
Apparently clueless as to what was happening, Aro pressed on, “To allow this boy –”
“Man. And his name is Jacob,” Carlisle interrupted. Chelsea turned her focus on us, trying to break our relationships. Shield or no shield it would have been impossible, but she couldn’t reach us. A low hiss echoed off the primordial cedars.
Again, Aro shrugged off his words, “To allow this Jacob to join your family is unacceptable. He puts our world at risk.”
Without Chelsea reinforcing their loyalty, confusion set in. It was as if a spell had suddenly been broken. The waning power of the Volturi ancients was no longer enough to tie most of the guard to the triumvirate. Demetri, Felix, Heidi and Renata looked torn. Only Jane and Alec did not waver.
On our side I saw the flicker of surprise in Jasper’s eyes. Edward squeezed my hand. No one missed Alice’s huge grin.
A vicious growl echoed through the clearing. I tensed, not realizing where it had originated until Marcus, the one member of the Volturi who had never displayed anything but boredom, pounced on Aro. Caius was frozen in shock. Only two saw it coming and they were standing on either side of me. I saw both Jane and Alec turn their focus on Marcus, but nothing stopped him. He was intent on the other’s destruction.
Almost instantly Aro was in pieces. Marcus rounded on the other member of their trio, wild with rage. Seconds later Caius was gone. As Jane and Alec threw themselves at the remaining ancient, I was vaguely aware that Jacob had pulled Renesmee behind him and our friends had moved in closer.
With a screech of metal and a burst of flames, Aro, Caius, Jane and Alec were gone. Marcus stood over the pyre, shaking. The other members of the guard who hadn’t fled stared in shock.
“Please…” he begged. When they didn’t move, he turned to Edward. “Please… They destroyed her.”
Though I never heard the story, the pieces clicked. Aro was responsible for the death of Marcus’s mate. Because Chelsea forced his loyalty, he never retaliated. Now he was free.
We were all free.
* * *
“They’re here!” Renesmee’s voice echoed through the forest and broke my reverie.
Hand in hand, Edward and I leapt over the river into the backyard. It was beautiful – all flowers and white lanterns reminiscent of our wedding. Alice and Renesmee outdid themselves again. Our vampire friends assembled from around the world and were mingling with the somewhat hesitant descendents of the pack. Our story alleviated much of the prejudice, but the young ones were uneasy around so many vampires. It helped to have Jacob there with Renesmee and Seth with Amy.
Seth and Amy’s tale was almost as inconceivable as Jacob and Nessie’s. When an accident led to the premature birth of their twins, Aaron and Stephen, and left Amy on life support, Seth begged Carlisle to change her. And so he was the only wolf in existence married to a vampire.
“Sweetheart, shouldn’t you be sitting down?” Edward asked Nessie in a deceptively calm tone as she waddled over to meet us.
She smiled indulgently and kissed his cheek, “Daddy, I feel fine.”
Edward wasn’t the only one worried she was overdoing it. Jacob had been her shadow for the last seven months and the bigger she grew the more protective he got.
She whirled on him quite gracefully for one seven months pregnant, “Don’t you start today, Jacob Black!”
I couldn’t help the snicker that escaped me at that.
Thunder rumbled in the distance as the sky turned grey once more, reminding us that we were home. We’d lived in many locations throughout the world, but despite the precious memories we’d made in Scotland, Scandinavia, Russia, South America, Ireland, Canada, and New England, Forks would always be home.
Edward and I made a point to talk with everyone who came. Then Alice turned on the music and he pulled me out to the dance floor, twirling me around. My vague human memories of feeling inadequate at our wedding made me wish the human me could have seen the vampire me. At our wedding, it was Edward and Esme who danced like Fred and Ginger. Now it was Edward and me.
He held me close as twilight fell, relaxed and content. The last hundred years had been truly amazing and I was eager to move ahead. We had the dearest friends and best family in the world. And we had each other. There was nothing I would do differently, nothing I would change.
A little later, Renesmee stood and walked to the middle of the crowd. “I just wanted to thank you all for coming to celebrate with us this weekend. I can think of no two people more deserving of a happily ever after than my parents. I think it’s safe to say they’ve had that so far.
“Momma, Daddy, I’d like to propose a toast to the things you’ve taught me really matter. To loyalty and honesty, for without them life would be difficult at best. To family and friends, for without them life would be miserable and lonely. And most of all to love. For without love, life would simply be meaningless. I love you both dearly and I can only hope that the next hundred years are just as wonderful.”
We descended on her, overcome with emotion. When she finally got us calmed down with help from Jasper, the rest of the family was there. Just as they would be for the rest of eternity.
And as a family we continued on with our blissful and perfect forever.