Chapter 20: Home Again
#A/N. Hey guys! Here's chapter 20...the last chapter for this story. I initially wanted to have 2 more chapters, and an epilogue, but my phone is off. Because my phone is off, I can't access the internet on my computer. Boo! And I have no idea when my phone will be back on. I'm updating this chapter now at school, and school ends next week on Tuesday (which is around the time it takes me to at least start a new chapter) so, I would not be able to update the story anymore. You guys don't know how much it pains me to end this story this way.
I would like to give a special thank you to all the readers who were here from the very beginning. You guys mean a lot to me. Your comments and your commitment is what kept me writing. Thank you.
And guess what? My birthday is Friday! Woo! haha I'll be 15. I would've liked to update then, but I didn't know how that would have worked out...eh.
Anyway, let me let you guys read this last chapter. Thank you all for being here for my first story. It means a lot me.
Remember to Review and leave any Comments!
Alice was the first to enter the vacant alley, Jasper trailing close behind her. Her face broke into a wide grin when she spotted me on the other side, waiting.
"Bella!" Alice exclaimed, pushing her legs to move faster. When she was close enough, she sprang at me. We collided and fell to the alley's floor. My face was suddenly buried in Alice's spiky hair.
"I missed you so much, Bella." She cried, clinging to me. I wrapped my arms tightly around her small body and hugged her closer to me.
"I missed you too."
"I am so sorry that I didn't see. I don't know how Aro managed to slip past me; I should've been paying closer attention." Alice spluttered.
"Shh." I soothed. "There's no need to apologize, Alice. It wasn't your fault. How could it have been? If you did see, I know you would have done everything in your power to stop it. You have nothing to be sorry for."
"Thank you, Bella." Alice sniffed, clinging to me. We continued to hold onto each other for a few minutes more, relishing in our reunion. Alice loosened her hold on me first. She got to her feet gracefully and pulled me up with her. I kept an arm around Alice's waist. Edward came next to me and grabbed my free hand, squeezing my fingers lightly. I looked around at my friends and family surrounding me. Jasper was the next to come up to me.
"Welcome back, Bella." Jasper said placing a hand on my shoulder and looking me square in the eye.
"Thanks Jasper." I said, offering a smile to my empath brother. He gave my shoulder a squeeze. Carlisle and Esme came up to me when Jasper and I were done.
"It wasn't the same without you, Bella." Carlisle started. "You were truly, deeply missed."
I was overwhelmed by emotion. I couldn't find any words to respond. I gave a small, shy smile in response. Esme stepped up and cupped my face in her hands.
"Dearest Bella." Esme said. "I'm glad you're back." She then proceeded to kiss me on the forehead, her caramel hair brushing against my cheeks and nose.
Everyone took turns hugging me, shaking my hand, and stating how happy they were that I was safe, and how they were only too happy to help. I was exceedingly lucky to have such friends.
On the plane, Edward and I sat farther to the back, away from everyone else. Instead of letting me have my own seat, Edward had pulled me onto his lap. I was more than happy to be there in his arms.
We stared silently into each other's eyes. Edward's hands came up to trace my face; my own hands were doing the same. I leaned in to brush my lips against his lips, his cheeks, his jaw, his throat – every part of him that I could reach. I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face in his chest, pulling myself closer to him. Edward ran his hand through my hair, stopping at the back of my head to cradle it. I breathed in his sweet, intoxicating perfume. Edward put one finger under my chin and gently lifted my head until I was meeting his gaze.
"I can't wait until you're home again." Edward said, his breath washing over my face.
"I can't wait to get home." I agreed. "I miss Renesmee so much. What exactly did you tell her?"
"I told her that you were missing, and she overheard some things, of course. So I'm sure it didn't take her long to piece everything together. And I told her that I would do everything to get you back, and I did." Edward said.
"I can just imagine what she went through."
"She handled everything exceedingly well under the circumstances. She missed you terribly, of course she did, but you would be very proud of her considering."
"I'm sure I will be. She's stronger than we give her credit for." I whispered.
"That she is." Edward agreed kissing me on the forehead.
"What about you?" I asked. "How were you? I was worried about how you might react."
"At first, I was angry. I was furious about the whole situation. But as the time passed without you by my side, nothing made sense. I was in constant agony. I tried to be strong for Renesmee, but I admit, some moments were harder than others. I missed you too much, every moment spent without you was torture." Edward murmured, his eyes blazing with the remembered pain. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I was living through the exact torment without him. I pulled his face closer to mine and captured his lips with my own. This kiss was much slower than the ones we shared in the alley. This kiss was meant to both sooth and take the other's pain away.
No one disturbed us for the entire ride home.
It was nighttime when we arrived home.
We had just broken through the trees that led to the front of the Cullen mansion when Renesmee came bursting out the front door with Jacob right on her heels. Renesmee had grown in the last month. She was a little taller, her hair was longer, and her face was more mature and defined. Her copper hair flew out behind her as she ran towards me, a huge smile breaking across her angelic face, her brown eyes sparkling.
She was radiant. My daughter.
I fell to my knees and opened my arms for her just as she launched herself at me. She nestled her face into my neck and I cradled the back of her head, holding it there. I could feel Renesmee's hot tears of happiness run down my neck as she sniffled. In that moment, with my daughter in my arms, the other half of my world was set back in place. Everything was right again. I was overwhelmed with the intense love I had for my daughter. Renesmee pressed her hand against my cheek.
Momma….momma I've missed you. She went on to relay all her feelings and memories from when she fist realized that I was gone. It pained me to see what she had gone through.
"Shh…everything's alright now, Renesmee. I'm here." I soothed stroking my hand through her hair. I clutched her closer to my chest.
I love you, momma. Renesmee's voice echoed in my head.
"I love you, too. More than my own life."
Edward crouched down next us and wrapped his arms around us, pulling us to him. Our little family was together again. I was complete. I was whole. After a long moment, Edward released us and helped us to our feet. As soon as I was released, I was grabbed and lifted from the ground.
"Jacob." I gasped as he swung me around in a circle.
"It's good to see you Bells! It wasn't the same without you." Jacob said as he continued to spin me around.
"Thanks Jake. You can put me down now." I laughed.
Jacob laughed as he sat me back down on my feet. It put both of his big hands on my shoulders and smiled down at me.
"Thank you for staying with Renesmee." I began.
"You don't even have to thank me." Jacob said. "You know I would do anything for her."
"Why don't we go inside?" Carlisle advised. It was just us Cullens and the Denalis. Everyone else had gone to return to their native land as soon as we landed in Forks.
Edward grabbed my hand – I pulled Renesmee with us, not wanting to be without her – and led me inside the house. The rest of the family followed and soon we were gathered in the living room. Edward, Renesmee, and I took over the couch, wrapped in each other's arms.
"Bella." Carlisle began. "We would all understand if you're not ready to talk about what happened. If you need some time to get your thoughts in order, you only need to ask."
"No, no…I want to tell you all about it." And I did. I couldn't keep all that happened bottled up inside me. I knew that it wasn't healthy.
"How did they get you in the first place?" Emmett asked.
"It was when I went back to the cottage to take a shower. I didn't notice Felix was there at first…he caught me by surprise. I tried to run, but…well, you know how it turned out." I said. Edward squeezed my hand.
"We met up with Demetri, and from there they took me straight to Italy. Aro had a plan from the very start. He wanted me to join the guard. He wanted to use me to get Alice and Edward to join." Jasper let out a low growl at that. "And if I failed to do so, he would've killed me. Aro gave me an ultimatum – he wanted me to decide the course of action. I initially chose death – I wouldn't let anything happen to any of you because of me – but then Aro chose to decide for me, seeing me as too valuable to let die. Caius wasn't at all pleased by that, I'll tell you."
"If only I was able to see sooner –" I interrupted Alice before she could finish.
"I already told you that none of this is your fault. We both know that you can't see everything. And Aro knows how your vision works; it was so easy for him to use it to his advantage."
"He did allow me to see a few things." Alice said to me. "I saw how they locked you in that room, how Felix bothered you, and you attacking Caius."
I ran my hand over the bite mark on my neck at the mention of Felix. When I focused enough, I could still feel the sting. Edward noticed my movement.
"I made him pay for what he did to you." Edward growled.
I looked at him. "You killed him." I stated, already knowing the answer.
We stared at each other for a long moment. I didn't know what my face gave away, or what he found in my eyes. But suddenly he was hugging me.
"I did it for you, Bella. You don't have to be afraid anymore, he's gone now."
"I know, Edward. I'm not afraid anymore." I whispered looking him in the eye.
"How long were you in that cell?" Edward asked then, drawing me back into my story.
I pursed my lips. "I was locked in for basically the whole time I was there. Aro allowed me out of the cell only to try to make me drink blood. Human blood." I winced. "When you all arrived, that was the first time I was out of that room in days."
"You took the blood?" Kate asked me suddenly. Kate's question surprised me so. How could she ask such a thing?
"No! Of course I didn't"
"Your eyes are red, Bella." Rosalie piped up.
It all came back to me then. The thirst. The human boy. The monster. Everything. I had tried to forget the memory. The taste of human blood…the smell.
"Bella…we've all been there before. There's nothing to be ashamed of. We don't blame you for anything." I heard Carlisle say from somewhere far away. I was too far deep in my memory to acknowledge what he was saying.
All I could remember was how it felt when the warm blood slid down my aching throat.
All I could see was the boy's frightened gaze as he met my eyes.
The look on his face as Caius slit is throat.
Edward's voice snapped me out of my obsessive thoughts. I met his worried gaze.
"Yes, I did drink human blood." I whispered, looking down not wanting to meet anyone's gaze. The room was completely silent as everyone waited for me to continue.
"I was so thirsty. After his failed attempts of getting me to convert to a natural diet, Aro wouldn't allow me to have animal blood. He said he wanted to keep me weak enough where I didn't have any chance of escaping."
"They were starving you?" Edward growled out, his eyes black with fury. Behind him, Jacob was beginning to shake.
"I would like to go back there and…" Emmett trailed off, too angry to finish his threat. I was then washed with a wave of calm; I noticed that everyone else was relaxing into their seats. Jasper.
"Let Bella finish." Jasper said. "She wants to get this out and over with." He was right of course.
"Aro called me down, and the human boy was just there. He smelt so good, and I was so hungry. I refused him at first, of course I did. But Caius, I suppose got tired of waiting, so he killed the boy – making sure to slit his throat so some of his blood leaked out – and threw him at me. The blood got onto my lip when he landed on me, and I just….I just couldn't control myself. I'm so sorry." I bowed my head, too ashamed to look at my family.
"This does not change what we think of you." Esme said after a long moment. "Like Carlisle said, we've all been there. We know what it's like to be in the temptation of human blood. We've had centuries of practice to get us where we are now, you haven't."
"Esme's right, Bella." Carmen said. "And from what I've gathered, none of it was your fault. The Volturi are the only ones at fault."
"I know." I sighed. "But I just feel so ashamed. I feel like I betrayed you and everything this family represents, like I've betrayed myself.
"You didn't, Bella." Carlisle's voice ranged with sincerity. "You're part of this family, and we do not alienate our family. We only support and love."
I looked around the room at each of my family's faces. They all wore similar expressions; understanding, supportive, and non - judgmental.
Their expressions were such; therefore, I allowed part of me to be reassured.
"Do you think that I'm a monster?" I asked Edward when I heard him enter the room. I was facing away from him, looking out at the night from the glass windows in our room. Around midnight, Edward and I decided to bring Renesmee to our cottage. I needed a sense of familiarity. I needed to be with my husband and daughter after spending such a long time away from them.
"No, of course not. I could never think such of you." Edward said as he came up behind me. He put a hand on my shoulder, watching my expression through the glass. I averted my eyes.
"But I killed someone."
"Bella, you are not a monster."
"How are you so sure?"
"Because how could someone like you be a monster?" Edward said, turning me around to face him. "You are good, pure. Certainly no one as kind and forgiving as you are is a monster."
I lowered my eyes from his and shrugged out of his arms. Without looking at him, I walked over to our bed and scooted to the center. There, I pulled my knees up to my chin - resting my head there - and wrapped my arms around my legs.
"I didn't tell you everything earlier." I whispered. "After drinking the boy's blood, something happened."
"What?" Edward asked.
I took a deep breath. This wouldn't be easy, telling him. But Edward was my husband. He needed to know these things, and I hated to keep secrets from him.
"I don't know how to explain it but, it was like I was there and then I just suddenly wasn't. Like there was someone taking over my body while I still had control over my own mind. For a while, I wasn't…me. I felt like I was possessed or something. I was there but I couldn't control myself. There was a part of me - a much stronger, dangerous, feral part of me - in control. I tried to battle it, to not let it get to me, but I wasn't strong enough. In my head, I kept referring to it as "the monster" because to me, that's what it was. It only had its own, selfish desires in mind. As much as I tried to distance myself from it, I couldn't. It was like it was using my body for its own evil intents." I kept my eyes locked with Edward's the whole time; my eyes begging him to understand. I needed him to understand.
Edward was silent for a few moments, lost in thought. "Bella." He began. "I think I know what you're describing."
"Yes." Edward came to join me on the bed. "I have that part of me that I've been battling since I was changed. It resurfaced when I first met you, when I was first hit with your scent that day in Biology."
"What exactly is it, Edward?" I cried, desperate.
"This is only a theory, but..." Edward began. "Us being vegetarians are able to be more in touch with our more civilized, human – for lack of a better word - side than others of our kind. Because we are able to fit in with humans more, that side of our nature gets pushed back, but not entirely forgotten; thus the constant, dull thirst that's always there in the back of our throats. When thrust into situations that pull at our natural instincts, like the ones that you and I were in, causes that side of our nature to make an appearance. Because of our strict diet and our desire to fit into the human world, our less civilized sides aren't completely dominant. They won't completely take over unless we allow them to."
Edward's reasoning made sense. It was completely logical and it gave me something to go off of.
"So I allowed myself to be overpowered then?" I asked, dejected. According to Edward, the only way for us to fully lose control is to want to lose control. Does that mean on some level that I actually wanted to give into that side of me?
"No, like I said, it's only a theory, Bella." Edward said. "But in any case, it seems to me that you were forced into that. You were, after all, forced into drinking human blood."
"So I'm not bad at all? I'm not a monster?"
"No, my love, you really aren't." Edward said, pulling me into his arms. "You went through something terrible. And not many are able to overcome it like you just did."
"But I didn't overcome it." I argued. "It went away."
"Ah, that's happened to me before too." Edward chuckled. "Who we really are versus what tries to change us."
"You really make it sound so simple."
"Believe me, it's not." Edward said. "It took me years to battle my own demon. And it wasn't truly conquered until after I fell in love with you."
I pulled myself closer to Edward, laying my head in the crook of his neck, enjoying the feel of his arms around me. Heaven. We were silent for a few moments.
"This is my first time back in the cottage since I found out you were missing." Edward murmured.
"Really?" I asked, lifting my head up to see his face.
"Yes. Alice had to bring mine and Renesmee's clothes to us." Edward chuckled, though his eyes were sad. "I couldn't bear being here without you. This is our home. It lost everything when you weren't here. I didn't think I could handle your scent and all the memories."
"I'm glad we came back together." I said. "We both didn't have to face the memories alone."
"I love you, Bella."
"I love you, too." I tangled my fingers in his copper hair and pulled his face to mine. Edward's hands came up to cup my face. We broke apart after a few minutes, gasping for unnecessary breath.
"Welcome home, love." Edward breathed in my ear, his breath tickling me.
The happiness burst through me as I captured Edward's lips with my own once again.
It was good to be home again.