Bright morning sunlight poured into my bedroom through the slits in the blinds; streaming over my bed and landing on my face, causing me to groan and tug the covers back over my head. I had been unable to sleep for most of the night, anxiety weighing heavy on my mind as I allowed thoughts of what was about to happen today to take over. Today, my sister was getting married. And while that fact alone may not have been enough to make someone nervous, once you added in who she would be marrying…well you could say that the nervousness skyrocketed.

It wasn't that I didn't like Edward. I trusted him with my sister's safety to the utmost degree. He and his family had taken me in, just as they had Bella; and the two of us had, in all honesty, never been happier, or safer. But that didn't stop me from feeling a faint pang of regret and sadness over the fact that my sister would no longer be sleeping in the bedroom down the hall from my own. That she would no longer feel compelled to come to me for late night talks. That she would soon become immortal; while I remained human.

That if she was changed while they were gone on her honeymoon…today may very well be the last day I saw her for quite some time.

As I remained, curled in a ball underneath the bed-sheets, I tried my best to shove aside the sadness at losing my best friend…my confidante, of eighteen years. She would be happy with Edward. I knew that without a doubt. But that didn't stop my hesitation over giving her up…over watching her become ageless, while I withered before her eyes. We had talked about this, countless times before today; of course. About how during the first few months, maybe even years of her change, it wouldn't be safe for her to be around me. About how I really had no desire to become immortal; the pain Carlisle had described to me that came as a part of becoming a vampire still causing tremors to wrack through me just from thinking about it.

No, I would remain mortal. I would grow old, just like the rest of the humans on the earth. That had to be better than enduring the fire spreading through my veins once bitten, right?

A knock at my door startled me out of my reverie, and I let out one last, drawn out moan at being forced out of my bed; before padding across the bare wooden floors to pull the door open. I had to bite back a laugh at the absolutely horrified look on Alice's face then, as she stared at my disheveled and quite obviously unprepared appearance for a minute; before flitting into the room and darting over to the closet where my dress was in hiding.

"I told you…both of you…that you needed sleep" She grumbled, rummaging through the assorted clothes until she reached what she was looking for. As she pulled the light purple gown out of its hiding place and turned to face me; I caught the hint of her rolling her eyes before she pressed on "You two are so much alike, it's impossible."

"Well we are related" I quipped, offering my soon-to-be sister a grin as I took the filmy fabric from her outstretched arms.

"And your disregard for the rules of fashion proves that" She joked, placing a hand on my shoulder as she made to leave the room "Get cleaned up, put this on and meet us in Bella's room for your hair."

Nodding my agreement, I slipped into the bathroom; taking a moment to glance at my reflection in the mirror, before quickly doing a one-eighty, and turning on the faucet to allow the water to warm up. I carefully placed my dress over top of the sink, far away from any running water source before I dropped my pajamas to the floor and climbed into the warm spray with a sigh. Allowing the water to soak my body thoroughly; I did my best to force my thoughts of the future away, instead choosing to focus on the present.

After all, how often was it that your sister got married to a vampire?

Leaning my head back and shutting my eyes, I allowed myself to relax for a moment as Rosalie wound my dark hair into an intricate braid that parted off to the side, and curved over my left shoulder. The sound of Alice's humming, coupled with the feel of Rose's capable fingers weaving through my hair served as a sort of balm for my frayed nerves; and I couldn't help but smile as I heard my sister's foot tapping anxiously on the ground. Clearly she hadn't been as easily calmed as I had been.

"Relax, Bells" I said, sliding my foot over until I felt it nudge hers gently "You're going to be fine."

"Easy for you to say" She replied, her voice shaking just a bit and belying her worry "You're not the one about to trip and fall on her face in front of God and everybody."

"True" I acknowledged, feeling a small hint of a smile tug at the corner of my mouth as I finished "But let's face it, I'm probably going to be close enough to you that when you trip; it'll turn into a domino effect, and I'll go down too."

"Neither one of you is going to trip" Alice interrupted, her voice firm despite the smile I could hear in her tone "Now take a look at your hair and tell us what you think."

As if on cue, Bella and I opened our eyes at the same time; our gazes fixing on each other first, before simultaneously turning to the mirror before us. Bringing up a hand to pat at my braid tentatively, I felt a smile coming to my lips as I turned to face my sister. For all of the protests I had put on at being forced to allow Alice and Rose to have their way with my hair; I was rather impressed with the results…and I could tell that Bella was likewise impressed with her own appearance, as I caught her turning to face me.

"You look great" She whispered, a fleeting smile passing over her face before she cast her eyes downward towards her lap. Getting up from my chair and taking a few steps in her direction, I crouched down as best I could while trying to avoid wrinkling my dress; placing both my hands on the arms of her chair as I said:

"Bella, look at me. You've been waiting for this…for Edward…for a long time now. You've endured so much, and come out stronger for it, in the end. And that has to mean something."

Her brown eyes flicked to mine in seconds, the uncertainty clearly mirrored in them as she bit her lower lip before replying.

"You…you're sure?"

"Of course I'm sure" I said, reaching over to squeeze her hand as I tried to fight back against a tear threatening to break loose "Now let's go get you married, okay? Before Dad changes his mind and decides not to give you up after all."

Relief flooded through me as I saw the look of trepidation in my sister's eyes turn into a look of determination; and I took her hand eagerly as she rose from her seat, helping Alice adjust the skirt of her dress before leading her towards the hallway, and out to our father's waiting car.

Today, for better or worse, my sister was about to meet her fate. And I would be with her, every step of the way; if I could.

Almost as soon as we had arrived at the Cullens' home, I found myself regrettably separated from Bella yet again; Alice's determination to put the last finishing touches on my sister before her walk down the aisle rendering me curiously alone, in spite of the crowds milling around me. Leaning against the railing of the deck off of the living room of Carlisle and Esme's home, I permitted myself to get lost, once again, in my thoughts; my lips turning down as I watched half-heartedly while people began to take their seats.

It was strange, really, this sense of listlessness I felt. Weddings were supposed to be happy affairs; and as sister to the bride, I was practically required to be the vision of cheer and encouragement. But try though I might to force some semblance of ease into my mood; I could not. I could not pretend to be the vision of joy when worry overwhelmed my heart. I had told Bella I was sure she and Edward were meant for one another; that I wanted her to marry him.

So why did I feel like I had just signed her death sentence with my little encouragement?

Shaking my head, I made to turn back towards the house; hoping to head upstairs and find Bella again, if for no other reason than to distract my mind from its morbid train of thought. Before I could make any attempts at doing so, however, I found myself utterly taken aback by Carlisle's sudden appearance at my side; a gentle smile toying with the corners of his mouth as he held out a rather worn looking box for me to take.

"I thought you might like something of your own to wear for today" He said; smile never wavering as I gave him what passed for the most startled expression I had ever put on. A brief moment's hesitation passed as I watched him, dumbfounded, before I finally had the wherewithal to take the proffered box; my fingers grazing carefully against the fabric on the outside as I swallowed and looked up at him.

"You didn't have to do this-"

"It's something I've had for a long time" The blonde vampire interjected; gesturing for me to open the box as he leaned against the railing beside me "Seems like it's more your style than Esme's."

Raising an eyebrow, I settled for simply following his instruction; fingers sliding the latch holding the box shut to the side as I opened it slowly. Carefully. Something about it seemed to infer a great care was required in handling it; as though it were a rare artifact in a museum. And as I lifted the lid away from the bottom, I couldn't help but let my mouth drop open in shock; eyes flicking to Carlisle's for the briefest of moments before they were drawn back to the gift I had just been presented.

It was beautiful.

My fingers grazed against the brazed gold chain even as my eyes remained fixed upon the delicate outline of a small flower pendant that hung from a tiny gold ring; the faint glints of light reflecting from the purple stones making up the petals casting tiny chinks of color over my face. True, it was small, delicate even in its simplicity. But I couldn't seem to help the burning from overtaking my eyes anyway; my tongue darting out to wet my lower lip before I forced my eyes back to Carlisle.

"I-thank you" I stammered; swallowing against the constriction in my throat as the blonde vampire held out his hand to take the necklace and put it on "But shouldn't something like this go to Bella?"

"Consider it your 'welcome to the family' present" Carlisle replied; cool fingers grazing the back of my neck as he clasped the chain and turned me to face him "You mean just as much to us as your sister does, Elena."

Nodding, I managed a small smile for his benefit before I found myself being waved inside by Alice; no doubt to assuage more last minute nerves on Bella's behalf. It baffled me, the sensation of complete and utter belonging I felt when I considered how the Cullens had taken me in from the beginning. And I did have to recognize that, even if I chose not to become immortal—

I would always have a place here, in their home.

After the ceremony concluded, I found myself an almost constant resident on the dance floor; my aversion to making a show of myself somehow going unnoticed as I was passed from my new brother in law, to Jasper, and finally to Emmett as the music blared on. Despite my embarrassment over my quite obvious lack of technique, I found that I was actually enjoying this…another breathless laugh escaping my lips as Emmett dipped me down towards the floor once again as he attempted to teach me the finer arts of swing dancing.

"Don't you think…ow…Rose would be a better partner for you, with this type of thing?" I asked, my only answer from him coming in the form of being whirled around in a circle as I yelped in surprise; before he set me back down and took a step back.

"Rose seems to be occupied with the other guests at the moment" He replied, stepping closer to drag me back into the dance as he went on "Besides, how else am I supposed to embarrass my little sister?"

"I thought you would you know…reserve the embarrassing behavior for Bella" I grumbled half-heartedly; a smile escaping as I heard Emmett's next words.

"You're a part of this family too, Elena" He said, stopping once again in favor of pulling me into a bear hug "And that gives me all the right in the world to harass you."

"Good to know" I quipped, ducking out of his embrace to avoid having him muss my hair as Carlisle and Esme approached. Smiling at the doctor, I leaned forward to give Esme a hug; pulling back just as the blonde vampire spoke.

"Elena, have you seen your sister?"

Looking around briefly, I bit my lower lip as I turned back to face Carlisle; a frown forming as I replied in the negative.

"No, actually I haven't. Last I saw her, she was with Jacob."

The doctor's brow furrowed for a moment, but in an instant, his face was once again calm and collected; barely a hint of concern in his voice as he turned to address Emmett.

"Perhaps you should go check on them?"

Before Emmett could reply, however, I stepped forward; ignoring his restraining hand as I said:

"I can go. I wouldn't mind saying hello to Jake anyway."

A brief nod of assent from Carlisle was all I needed to begin making my way towards the edge of the woods where I had seen my sister and our old friend disappear; only turning around part way as I heard Esme call out.

"Be careful, Elena."

I could hear the concern in her voice; worry that Jake's…sensitivity…regarding my sister's marriage might make him volatile and dangerous evident in her tone. But I knew better. I knew that he would never hurt myself, or my sister; no matter what. So I offered the woman who had become like a second mother to me a reassuring smile; before turning my attention to the forest path at my feet, and heading off to see what was taking my sister so long. As I picked through the fallen twigs and leaves, careful not to allow them to snag my dress; I found myself traveling ever deeper into the woods at the back of the Cullen home, never once expecting to run into anything other than my sister and Jake. Never once thinking that something else was in these woods…something far more important than I could ever have known.

The sound of raised voices nearby soon had me altering my course; following the sounds of Jake's apparent shock as I wound deeper amongst the trees. Before I could reach my intended goal, however; I found myself colliding, hard, with a cool object that sent me tumbling to the forest floor. Shaking my head and silently chastising myself for focusing my attention on the ground instead of on the path ahead, I let out a huff as I turned my eyes upward; my heart all but stopping in my chest as I took in the sight before me.

The man I had collided with was beautiful, feral, and dangerous all at once; the dark hair that hung around his face accentuating the now familiar paleness that I had come to associate with my new family. He was tall, I realized then…even from my position on the ground, I could tell that he would easily tower over me when standing…and I caught his eyes widening for the briefest of moments; his entire body freezing as he realized that the thing he had just collided with was a human. His abrupt attempt at chivalry by offering a hand to help me up went unnoticed, however; as I registered one key difference between this vampire, and the ones that I had come to love. His eyes were not the familiar, warm honey-gold that I was so accustomed to.

His eyes…were red.

Alright, here it is. The umpteenth reposting of this story, and subsequently the first little string of edits! I'm still going to be keeping the base idea of the story the same; but like I said, I've had some new ideas that have come to mind that seem better suited if I add little tidbits to explain them throughout my already posted chapters! It may seem confusing now, but all will be revealed (evil grin).

I do hope that in all the ups and downs that this story has experienced, I haven't lost any of my dear readers in the process. I truly do appreciate your patience with me (and hopefully your willingness to give this story another chance as well!) I cannot wait to hear your thoughts!

Until next time (I hope?)


PS-I have decided, at least tentatively, that Elena's face claim should be Emmy Rossum. If you all have other ideas, though, feel free to share!

PSS-I'm also toying with the thought of a Paul/OC, so if there are any interested parties out there, let me know! :D