A short note:
I LOVE Halloween. I have ever since I was a little kid. I was that kid fascinated with horror movies and stripping apart special effects to find out how they made that movie magic happen. I was reading Agatha Christie, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King by the sixth grade, scaring myself silly with them and loving every minute. So for me, this is my dark little masterpiece. Don't worry though! It's got lots of humor and lovey-dovey feel good stuff that the Cullens are known for. It's different from anything else I've ever written and I really like this one. I hope you will too.
This is only a SPOOF and is not intended to replace anything about Year Two. I still stand by my dream ending because that will always be the true, meaningful ending for me. It taught them to both put aside their childish ideals and deal with each other realistically and not on the idea that things will be perfect as long as Edward thinks it will.
Some of this is based in science and might actually be able to work, but overall, it's fantasy. Eight against an untold number is just prolonging the outcome. And it's not a good outcome for our lovable Cullen family.
With Goblins & Ghouls,
DISCLAIMER: The characters do not belong to me…they are all the creation of the wonderful Stephenie Meyer.
Chapter Title:It's Time
Chapter Song:Innocent by Fuel
Poor Jasper. I knew I was driving him crazy, but I couldn't help it. Edward was holding me tightly, whispering words of love and encouragement, but it wasn't working. We would be landing in Rome in ten minutes. We would be in Volterra within hours. This was the day that would decide the rest of my life. Would I be allowed to live in peace with my husband and our family? Or would I have to fight for what I wanted?
If they wanted a fight, I would give them one. Edward and Carlisle were still the only ones aware of my ability to drain other vampires. That ability, added with the fighting skills the boys had taught me, made me one very dangerous vampire. Hopefully, I could keep that information to myself and not have to use it.
I had been practicing gradual draining while fighting with Emmett and Jasper. It didn't make too much of a difference with Jasper since he had a very technical fighting style, always planning a counter-move. But for someone like Emmett who relied on brute strength—which I believed most of the guard would—it was a major plus on my side. Not to mention that my small size made me look like an easy target. But I never cheated when I fought Emmett. I always gave him back his energy before we got down to the final minutes of our fight. That way, our wins and losses would always be real and count. I would never cheat my big brother…unless I was playing poker with him and wanted to prank him. But I had only done that once.
I chuckled to myself, earning a concerned look from Edward. He had been trying to lighten my mood for the entire plane flight and this was the first time I had relaxed.
"I was thinking about you. About how we fooled Emmett in the poker game that time."
Edward smiled and kissed my cheek softly. "That was a good day."
The seatbelt light flashed and Edward deposited me into my seat and buckled me in. I held tightly to his hand, hoping these weren't our final hours together, and determined to make sure that they weren't.
"Bella, I know this is hard for you, but flipping from anxiety to determination like you are is seriously starting to wear on me. Please calm down," Jasper pleaded.
"Sorry, Jazz. I'll try harder," I promised.
The plane landed and we all stepped off, making our way over to baggage claim. We had packed light, with the men saying it would make it easier for us to travel to our separate destinations later on, where we could pick up more things along the way. I wasn't so sure about that reasoning. I knew Carlisle and Jasper had been spending a lot of time together recently, but I had no idea what they were up to. And if Edward knew, he was certainly hiding it well.
Alice kept assuring all of us that she saw us in our separate destinations, having a good time. It worried me that she couldn't see anything at all of the actual meeting. It meant that there were too many decisions that could change; too many factors.
Much sooner than I wanted, we were approaching the walls of the city. I shivered against Edward's side, doing my best to reign in my emotions for Jasper's sake. He had to have been just as apprehensive, knowing Aro expressed interest in Alice.
When Carlisle parked the vehicle, he turned and looked back at us. His voice was authoritative, calm, and reassuring, all at once. "This is only a formality, nothing more. I doubt we will even be required to spend much time in the building as long as we remain close to the city. No one is to say anything or make any move without my permission. Emmett, I am trusting you to know this is not the time for jokes or rash behavior. We do not want to give the Volturi any reason to fight us. It's very important that we stress as much as possible that we are a family, not a coven. We want to show that we are only looking to live peacefully, not rule anyone or anything. Is that clear?"
We all gave a nod of our heads to him.
He smiled at us and took Esme's hand into his own. "We are walking in there as a family of eight and we are leaving the same way. You have put your trust in me for one reason or another over the years. Let today be the day that you trust me the most. Now, let's go inside and satisfy Aro's curiosity once and for all."
Edward opened the back door and slid out, pulling me along with him since I was still refusing to let go of his hand. He didn't seem to mind, though, as he gave my hand a reassuring squeeze.
I grabbed him up in a tight hug. "I love you, Edward Cullen."
He pressed his face into my hair and breathed deeply. "I love you, too, Isabella Cullen. And Carlisle is right; we will put our faith in him and leave here as we have come—a complete family."
I nodded and released him. Alice took my free hand while her other hand was locked firmly in Jasper's grip. Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, and Emmett walked in front of us, their hands linked in a similar fashion. When we came closer to the entrance doors, we broke off into couples, with Carlisle and Esme in the lead, and Jasper and Alice bringing up the rear.
Alec was waiting in the lobby of the building, an evil little smirk on his face as he watched us enter. "Carlisle, it's lovely to see the entire Cullen family. Aro will be pleased to see that you kept your word."
"Alec, Aro knew all along that I would keep my word," Carlisle replied calmly. "Now, if you could kindly take us to him. We have been traveling for a number of hours and would like to get this over with so that we may check into our hotel."
"Right this way," Alec bowed, still smirking.
He led us down a hallway and past Giana's office. I was amazed that she was actually still here and still very much human; she didn't even look up as we strolled past.
After a few turns, we were standing before a huge wooden door. Alec pushed it open and we entered a small room with three large chairs at the front and a number of guards lining the walls. Jane was standing near the chairs and I noticed Felix standing in the corner behind her. I was glad that there was no sign of Demetri.
"Jane, darling," Alec called, "would you be so kind as to let Aro and the others know that the Cullen coven has arrived?"
"Family," Carlisle corrected. "My family has arrived."
"Yes, of course," Alec responded.
Jane left the room, but not before glaring at Edward and me. Carlisle took ahold of my hand and brought me forward so that Edward and I were standing between Esme and him. Rose and Emmett moved to Esme's side while Jasper and Alice stood on Carlisle's.
The wait wasn't long, but it felt like it took forever for the three vampires to arrive. Aro was beaming, Caius was scowling and Marcus…I think he was the first vampire to ever look bewildered. Yes, bewildered was the perfect word. It was beyond shock and surprise, which must have been a very rare thing for someone as old as Marcus to experience. Marcus had the power to see relationships, to know how deep or fragile a connection between two vampires truly was. Obviously, Edward's and mine was more than he had expected.
Aro chuckled darkly as he sat down in the middle chair. "It seems Marcus is impressed and I haven't even had to touch him to know that. We are all so very pleased to have you with us."
"She's been changed," Caius said in a bored voice. "What more is there to do?"
"I would like to hear what Marcus thinks of dear Bella and Edward's relationship," Aro answered.
Marcus stared at Edward and me for a long time, making me extremely uncomfortable. Finally, he sat down in his chair, slightly shaking his head. "Release her hand," Marcus ordered Edward.
I looked up at Edward. His lips were pressed into a thin white line, but he nodded and released my hand. Aro was touching Marcus's hand again, both of them staring at Edward and me.
"Interesting," Aro chuckled, releasing Marcus's hand.
Edward immediately took my hand back into his again, holding it with both of his and placing a small kiss on the back of it. I smiled at him, glad to have his touch back.
"He stands next to her and yet she yearns for him as if he's miles away," Marcus commented. "I have never seen anything like it. And if that wasn't enough, his emotions mirror hers. Their relationship is the youngest of the four, yet it is the strongest."
"Hmmm," Aro muttered, tapping his fingertips together. "How interesting. And complicated."
"It's merely a result of them nearly losing each other," Carlisle explained. "They already know what the pain of loss feels like and they do all they can to avoid feeling it again. I'm sure if we had been in similar situations, we would be bonded as strongly."
"Ah, but you weren't, Carlisle," Aro noted. "He fell in love with her as a human."
"And I have kept my word and she is now a vampire," Edward said. "We wish only to live together as a family, peacefully."
"Do you still believe you have no soul, Edward?" Aro asked.
"No," Marcus answered, causing us all to turn toward him again. "That's the other puzzling thing about all of this. His entire view of himself has changed. Not completely, but enough to know that it is a mirror of how she views him."
"Edward, is Marcus correct?" Aro chuckled. "Has dear Bella affected you that greatly?"
Edward clenched his jaw tightly. I had no idea what Aro was thinking and from the tension in Edward's body, I didn't want to know. "No, Aro. Bella does not have the power of persuasion, or the power to alter perception. She doesn't have any powers, except to keep her mind as her own, just as she did when she was human. What she does have is a loving heart and it is her love for me that has changed me, nothing more and nothing less."
"Love," Aro scoffed.
"Carlisle?" Rose asked. "May I?"
Edward shot Rose a look, but immediately softened his features. I wondered what Rose was thinking to cause such a reaction in Edward. Edward nodded to Carlisle and he in turn, gave his approval to Rose.
Rose held her hand out toward Aro. "Bella's love has not changed Edward alone, but every member of our family. She has changed my life almost as much as she has changed Edward's. I want to show you what her love is capable of."
Aro stood and walked over to Rose, putting his finger in the palm of her outstretched hand. His face was impassive as he sorted through Rose's memories. But it must have been working because when Aro pulled away, Edward relaxed.
"Fascinating. Simply fascinating. A woman as beautiful as you, stricken with self-loathing. It's nearly a crime. But you no longer feel that way…at least not as strongly," Aro mused.
Rose lowered her hand and Aro walked down the line toward me. I held my ground, refusing to allow myself to step away from Aro.
"I had wondered how our little Stephen was captured," Aro chuckled.
I felt the growl in Edward's chest, but he kept it from coming out.
"Aro?" Carlisle questioned, barely controlling his own anger. "You sent that monster after my daughter?"
"Of course not, Carlisle," Aro replied, smirking. "He was only supposed to keep an eye on her, watch for the development of powers…The fact that he was completely unhinged was an interesting little surprise." Aro made that damn chuckling noise again and I wanted to punch him right in his damn mouth.
Edward tightened his grip on my hand, having sensed my anger. But I was in control of it today; I was not about to lash out and give the asshole in front of me a reason to hurt my family.
Aro chuckled again before going to his seat. "I must say, I was shocked Stephen wasn't disposed of when his dementia was uncovered."
"As we have said many times, Aro, we prefer peace over fighting," Carlisle stated.
Aro waved his hand in the air, dismissing Carlisle completely. "Marcus, what else can you tell us about their relationship?"
"It is stronger than any I have ever seen. It's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Separation would kill them both within hours, not even days," Marcus explained. "They would be absolutely useless alone. Together, they are…I'm not even sure, Aro." Marcus shook his head again, as if that would make it any clearer to him.
Marcus brought his hand up and Aro touched it, seeing his view of us. Aro chuckled again. I hated that damn laugh of his.
"So she's a vampire and they need each other? How quaint! Can we send them on their way now?" Caius questioned.
"Patience, Caius," Aro said. "I'm curious as to what would happen if we sent Edward from the room?"
My mind started racing, going through all of the ways I could lose Edward if he really left the room. I let go of Edward and Carlisle, grabbing at my head to try and still the images. If I still had a heart that beat, it would surely be trying to jump from my chest. I could hear Edward calling my name, but I couldn't answer him. I couldn't do anything until I stopped myself from panicking. I knew I had to do this myself to keep Jasper's gift a secret. Only I couldn't seem to stop and the blackness took over…
I had no idea how much time had passed and awareness was slowly returning to me. I knew I had made a huge mistake and put my family in even more danger, but there was nothing I could do to stop it. I'd tried so hard to rein it in, but the mere thought of losing Edward had always been able to send me into a fit of panic.
"She's coming around," Alice chirped from somewhere close by.
"I never would have thought in all of my days that I would see a vampire faint," Aro chuckled.
"It's a reaction to your goading," Carlisle said tersely. "Her mind is as unique now as when she was a human. It has never granted her any powers, but it still works to protect her. When she becomes worried, it shuts down on her to protect her. Had you not been looking for powers that do not exist, and threatening to remove Edward from the room, she would not be lying in my son's arms right now."
That's why I felt so much better! Edward was holding me and humming my lullaby. I fought harder to completely wake up so that I could see him and talk to him. I wanted to let him know that I was okay and that I was sorry.
"My apologies, old friend," Aro said, sounding anything but sincere. "It was never my intent to harm dear Bella. I was only curious about her and her bond with Edward."
"A fainting vampire?" Caius called in a bored tone. "What's next, Aro? Will you show us a vampire who can control emotions?"
"You would have to find one very extraordinary human for that to occur," Aro chuckled. "Humans aren't capable of that much empathy. Look at their wars and their greed!"
I breathed a sigh of relief that was thankfully interpreted as a sign I was truly waking. Jasper was still safe and that had been my immediate concern. If he had used his powers to calm me, it would have put him in even more danger.
"Bella, please open your eyes," Edward pleaded, running his hands along my cheeks.
My eyes slowly fluttered open and immediately searched out his topaz eyes. They were filled with concern, but not so much that I was worried Aro suspected anything. "Hello, Edward," I whispered, reaching out and touching his face.
He smiled and leaned into my hand. "Hello, Love. You really have to stop scaring me like this."
"Yes, I do recall promising that fainting right before finals would be the last time. Sorry about that," I joked, returning his smile.
"Bella?" Carlisle called, turning my face toward him. "Do you remember where we are and what happened?"
"Yes, but it's slightly fuzzy. I know we're in Italy and that I panicked, but I can't put my finger on why just yet," I lied. If we were going to sell this fainting thing as a byproduct of my freaky brain, I was going to need to play up the confusion angle.
"That's to be expected, Bella," Carlisle chuckled. "I'm sure it will become completely clear within minutes, just like the last time."
"At least she didn't break a coffee table this time," Emmett snorted from somewhere close by.
"Don't tease your little sister," Esme scolded. "At least not until she's aware enough to tease back."
"Sister, brother, father, mother…you really do fancy yourselves as a family," Caius mused.
"We are a family," Carlisle corrected, helping Edward to get me onto my feet. "We are a family in all of the ways that count. We love each other, we support each other, and we spend every day being grateful for each other. We only want to live our life, peacefully and in the way we see fit. Aro, you know I value you as a friend, but these interruptions have got to stop. We have shown you that we honor our promises and Bella has become one of us. There is no reason to trouble us any further."
"I agree with Carlisle," Marcus stated. "If you discount the fainting and the bond, Bella is an unremarkable vampire. She offers nothing to our guard."
"But Edward and dear Alice would be such wonderful additions," Aro chuckled.
"Not without their mates who have no desire to live here among us. Making them all miserable by forcing them will only make us miserable in the end," Caius remarked. "Let them go home, Aro. Let us finally be rid of the Cullen family and move on to more pressing matters."
"Yes, yes," Aro sighed. "I suppose we should do something about that rogue little band of vampires terrorizing the Scottish countryside. They have shown themselves one too many times for my liking."
"And mine as well," Caius agreed.
"Carlisle, we welcome your family to stay for a few days and enjoy everything Volterra has to offer you," Aro announced. "But I have a feeling you will all be departing sooner rather than later."
"Probably so, Aro," Carlisle replied, nodding toward the old bag of bones. "I do hope you will stay in touch, old friend."
"Of course, of course," Aro said, walking toward the huge doors with us. "I'm sure we'll see each other again in a few years or decades. It all depends on how boring things get around here."
Carlisle smiled and nodded at Aro. "Until then, old friend."
"Carlisle, just one more thing," Aro said, much too sweetly.
Carlisle turned toward Aro and smiled. "Yes?"
"You're a family and complete now, correct?" Aro questioned.
"Yes, we are," Carlisle replied.
"Keep it that way," Aro said, making it sound like both a command and a warning. "Do not add to this family of yours, ever."
"There will be no need," Carlisle assured him. "We are all quite happily married."
"No, you misunderstand me, Carlisle," Aro replied with a sickeningly sweet grin. "I mean that none of you are ever allowed to make a vampire, not even to save a life as you did with Edward, Esme, and Rosalie. You are forbidden from turning anyone for eternity."
Carlisle's lips pressed into a thin white line, but he nodded his head. "I understand, Aro. We will honor your request."
"Thank you, old friend. Have a lovely trip home, or wherever you may be headed to," Aro said. "Alec, show them out."
And just like that, we were leaving the Volturi headquarters as we had come. Carlisle had managed to get us all out of there safely, and Jasper's powers and my own were still a secret. I breathed deeply once we walked out of those doors, relishing in the feeling of freedom.
"Edward?" Carlisle whispered as we walked toward the rental vehicle.
"Tonight, I think. Probably not long after the sun goes down," Edward replied. I had no idea what they were talking about since I hadn't been able to listen through Edward, but I damn sure didn't like the sound of that.
"Just as I feared," Carlisle said in a weary tone.