Title: After the Dawn
Pairings: The usual– including Renesmee/Jacob.
Warnings: There is an original character. I know some people hate that, so I'm warning you.
Summary: Fifty years after Breaking Dawn. The Volturi have come to settle the score with the Cullens with Bella amongst their ranks. Can Edward still love the monster she has become?
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the figments of my imagination. Stephenie Meyer owns everything else.
Author's Note: I thought the end of Breaking Dawn was a bit cheap. Obviously the Volturi would still want to kill the Cullens…what would happen when that time came?
It's broken down into six different POVs, so be prepared for the changes. There will be three chapters total. Two POVs each chapter.
I studied my mother's blood red eyes from across the field we were positioned in. I hadn't seen my mother with that eye color since my earliest days, 50 years ago. With immortality's aid, nothing else about her had changed either, except now she wore a dark cloak wrapped around her. In fact, even her expression was familiar. It had been etched in her face for weeks during that period of my childhood when Aro, Caius, and Marcus had wanted to kill me. She had once held my life above anything else.
Bella Cullen, my mother, stood to the right of Aro, Caius, and Marcus. As a member of the Volturi guard.
On one side of me, was Jacob Black, my husband of almost 40 years. On the other was my father, Edward Cullen. His eyes looked haunted as he, like me, stared at my mother.
Most precious of all, was the child crushed between Jake and I. Our child: the most vulnerable and innocent being of the unusual family I belonged to.
If not for the fact that my mother now wanted to help murder everyone I held dear, I would feel a kinship with her in this moment. I suppose now that I had lost my cute innocence over the past 50 years of my life, her own life had taken precedence above all else. She had protected me as I now protected my son, William Edward, named for Jake and mine's fathers.
Back then, however, my mother had been the key to saving us from the Volturi. Now she was the key to sentencing us to death.
Even now, staring at her blank, crimson eyes, I looked for any sign that it was an act. With all the evidence against it, I still wanted to believe that my mother was pretending. That she loved us more than her own life, just like the locket I wore around my neck was inscribed with.
I stopped my train of thought as my Grandfather Carlisle approached Aro in representation of the large crowd of friends gathered around us, in this weak attempt to overthrow the Volturi before we all died quickly and - with Alec's help - painlessly.
The Volturi did not bring witnesses this time. A mistake they had learned from the hard way, last time. Some of those same witnesses now stood beside us - against the Volturi.
A show of their confidence, I noted while watching Carlisle edge his way slowly toward the Volturi, was that they had brought less numbers than before. Naturally, the most powerful of the guard was there, but with Bella on their side, it was almost icing on the cake. Alec would blind us before we could even get to them.
"Carlisle, it hurts me deeply to meet you once again on such unhappy terms," Aro said. "When your daughter came to me, I could hardly believe the story she told us. A child who was part shape-shifter, part vampire, and part human? Does it turn into a puppy?" Aro paused to laugh delightedly. "My, my, Carlisle, it is hard to imagine such an unusual creature you've helped breed, so I came to see it for myself."
Jake and I both growled at the connotations the word breed dripped with.
Aro hadn't stopped his introduction. "Obviously, I could not live the story through dear Bella's memories – her head is still untouchable to my gift."
My mother had obviously not told him the little known fact that she could now easily lift the barrier that naturally protected her from attacks through the mind. Of course, only my father had been trusted with her thoughts on occasion.
"Please." Carlisle pleaded. "The child means no harm to anyone. We have taught him our ways…he relies on secrecy to protect himself just as much as we do."
"I think we both know, old friend, that there is only one result for the evening," Aro said plainly.
The Volturi guard crouched into position. I tightened my arms around my son, praying against fate that my mother's unfeeling eyes would change. I wished she'd end her protections against us and put them around us.
My father whispered two words, "Please, Bella."
"Happy fiftieth anniversary!" Alice squealed, throwing flower petals into the air at Bella and me as we walked through the door. Bella winced beside me as she realized the party was solely about us.
Some things never changed. Bella would never like being the center of attention. Or parties.
"Surprise!" Everyone was shouting. Everyone, was not what we'd been expecting.
Carlisle and Esme were the only one's we had been expecting. It was there house, after all. We had come only to visit them.
However, Alice and Jasper were down from Canada where they had been living for the past few years. Rosalie and Emmett had been living as nomads, a honeymoon of sorts. Last I heard they'd been hunting polar bears. Seeing them here was a great surprise – how did they manage to orchestrate this surprise reunion? Did they get reception for cell phones where polar bears lived? I wondered.
Finally, three people I knew Bella always loved to see: the Blacks. Renesmee, Jacob, and Will. Will was the newest member in our growing family and the youngest.
"Gran!" Will yelled excitedly. He ran towards Bella, jumping into her strong arms. He was getting a little big for that, though, naturally, Bella was probably capable of picking him up even if he grew to the size of his father.
Will then turned his attention to me. "Gramps!"
I gazed into his brown eyes, the same as his mother's, the same as my wife's once were, and her father who had passed away only a few years ago. Yet, Will had his father's smile, bright and careless.
Will reminded me of Renesmee when she was small for those few short years – everyone fell in love with them. Not that everyone didn't fall in love with Renesmee at present, just that Jacob would strangle anyone who looked at her oddly.
The major difference was that Will was growing much slower. Faster than a human – Renesmee was pregnant only half the time a human woman was with him. That pace seemed to stay consistent with the rest of his growth. Always doubly fast than what a human child would have.
Right now he looked about six, but was only three years old.
I let him jump down from my arms and tugged on his curly black hair playfully when he tried to run back to his parents.
"We haven't seen you in two weeks and this is how you treat your grandparents?" I teased him.
"Gramps, it's time for presents! And cake!" He cheered. Jacob was the only one to celebrate with him. The rest of us would have preferred a mountain lion, or grizzly bear, to a good piece of cake. Will could drink blood just as well as he could eat human food. It was the strangest thing about him. He saw no difference in the food, unlike his mother who had always preferred blood.
Shaking my thoughts away from my grandson, the party began. There were presents, stories from abroad, and laughter.
I realized it had been two and half years since we had been all together. Ever since Alice had seen a threat from Aro that our coven had grown to such an enormous size (eleven) we had decided to split into couples. It had warded Aro off, voiding his excuse to downsize our coven.
Everyone had scattered to the winds after Alice's vision. Esme and Carlisle were now living in Alaska, far from where Bella and I had settled in the outskirts of Chicago. Unable to separate from Renesmee, Jacob, and six month-old Will, the Blacks had come with us. We were trying to maintain distance from the Blacks while still being able to visit each other frequently.
"Will, we have presents for you, too!" Rosalie surprised him. Rosalie had always happily spoiled her grand-nephew. Her contempt for Jacob had faded to mild dislike over the past 50 years.
"But my birthday isn't until April." That was the only protest Will managed before he was ripping into presents from his various relatives. Any chance to spoil Will was always taken advantage of by the Cullens.
Will was just starting to unwrap a present from Esme and Carlisle when I saw the vision from Alice. She gasped like she was in physical agony. Jasper twitched at the sound, but held still.
Everyone in the room had frozen. The laughter stopped. Will had his fingers wedged between bits of wrapping paper, unmoving.
Very clearly in Alice's mind, I could see Aro, Caius, and Marcus watching as Demetri and Felix went straight for Bella in a field full of our family and allies. I could see myself, stepping in front of Bella, being ripped into a hundred pieces. Next, I saw Bella being shredded like a paper doll. Then, very quickly I watched as my sweet, innocent grandson was attacked, but Jacob and Renesmee went down in his defense. Their deaths were not so clean as my Bella's…too much human blood ran through their bodies…
Murder after Murder, I watched as my family succumbed to death in the name of protecting the most innocent of all of us. In the end, our family had fought valiantly, destroying Felix, Demetri, and a few new members of the guard.
It hadn't been enough. In the end, we were finished in a bonfire of corpses.
"Oh, god." Alice whispered.
"What is it?" Will asked, confused. His question started an onslaught of more questions from the rest of the family.
I looked to Alice. Her mind was going over the vision again and again.
"They're coming. This time for sure," I explained when I realized Alice would not be able to.
"When?" Bella questioned. Her amber eyes, full of terror, looked into mine, searching.
After relaying the vision to the rest of the family, even young Will, there was only one main consensus.
It was Jasper's hopeless voice that spoke it aloud. "We're done for."
Indeed, for the first time, there was no hope for survival. No matter what I heard Carlisle, Esme, or even Renesmee say, I could hear their thoughts. Not one person, except young Will who could barely grasp the idea of the danger, had hope.
I pulled Bella to me, burying my face in her hair. I wanted to protect her, to save her and my family. Yet the vision showed that I would be the first to fall. Leaving her helpless in her position - she was not able to fight well and concentrate on shielding at the same time.
I could not stop myself from protecting her, even if that meant my death. I could not bear to die if she would be unprotected without me. Two things that certainly did not coexist in Alice's vision.
I should have known what part of the vision that would stay with Bella most.
When the Blacks had gone off to sleep, the vampires paired off in couples to speak privately. Bella and I ran out into the nearby wooded area, lying down together on the cold ground beneath a large tree. There was no privacy in Carlisle and Esme's beautiful, but small home. The forest was our only shot at it.
We were silent, just holding each other for a long time. I tried to think of something, anything that could save my family, save any of us at all. I kept coming up empty-handed. It was torture to know that I could do nothing.
I was lost in these thoughts for hours.
Bella had finally broken the silence.
"Maybe…instead of trying to protect me, you should just let them get me." Bella was hesitant as she spoke.
"You're asking me to do something that's impossible," I answered without a thought.
"Please, just listen to me for a minute," Bella began.
It gave me an idea, "Let me hear you, love." I admit, I had never stopped enjoying her thoughts. They were the most precious I had ever heard. Plus, it might give me some insight into what mad ideas her brain had come up with now. How could I not protect her? It was like asking me to stop loving her.
"There's nothing in my head you want to hear tonight, Edward," Bella answered.
Undeterred, I urged her to continue. "Explain to me then."
"I just thought…maybe if we acted in the exact opposite way we were supposed to. Things could turn out differently."
I considered her suggestion. "I could never not protect you, Bella. End of discussion."
"Never?" Bella echoed.
"Never." I said fervently.
She smiled sadly at me. "I guess I am the same. I will always want to protect you."
We were silent again until morning.
"Well, this at least means we can all be together now," Esme said, hugging me as Bella and I rejoined the family in the house. I almost laughed at Esme's poor attempt at being positive. Even Esme, who had suffered, perhaps more than all of us, from being away from her family, would rather never see any of us again, if it meant we could all avoid the tragedy ahead.
We huddled together like the attack was right upon us. In truth, we were unsure when it was coming. I knew from reading Alice's mind that there was too much indecision in the matter which must be decided before the actual day was set.
"Renesmee?" My ears tuned in to listen to the love of my life.
"What do you think about going out with me to hunt? I miss taking my little girl out to hunt." Bella's voice was strained as she spoke.
"Yeah, I am rather thirsty…Jake, honey, is that okay?" Renesmee asked.
Jacob gave her a watery smile. "I know I'm whipped. Do what you want." He waved her away in an attempt to cover up what he was really thinking – that he'd rather go with her than stay behind. However, I knew he would bravely stay behind. The attack would not come soon and definitely not today.
While Bella and Renesmee said their goodbyes, I watched as Bella's face repeatedly puckered like it did when she wished she could cry. I stood up to comfort her, only to be brushed off. "It's nothing, Edward."
"Nothing?" I asked, quirking my eyebrow.
"Nothing." She turned her attention to the rest of the room. "Bye, everyone!" Bella called, before grabbing me close and kissing me with a passion that was usually reserved for our nightly activities…It ended all too soon. "Goodbye, Edward."
"Goodbye, Bella." I replied. I couldn't resist one more kiss. Then she flitted away to leave. I felt a moment of panic as she walked out the door, but I figured it was affiliated with the stress of the pending attack from the Volturi.
I could handle Bella leaving to hunt, I persuaded myself. I had hunted only two days ago, while Bella had chosen to abstain in lieu of finishing a new book. She would be back soon, I attempted to assure myself. She needed to hunt.
"Edward, want to play chess?" Alice proposed. I turned to her. She was watching Emmett and Jacob watch a sports game. They were cheering for different sides, while Jasper took bets on who would win. Everyone was trying so hard to act normal.
Carlisle and Esme were talking quietly, but intensely, while watching over Will. He was enjoying himself with his new presents. He seemed perfectly at ease in his naïveté to our impending death. He didn't understand death with his immortal family.
I could tell Alice's offer of chess was a distraction – one I was happy to take.
We couldn't all be Will.
I listened half-heartedly to Alice's moves as she predicted our moves through the game.
"Ha! I win!" Alice grinned up at me. I knocked over my king in defeat, but I was confused when her face fell. That's when I started paying better attention to her thoughts.
I saw Bella.
Bella in a dark cloak. Her eyes the same red as the other vampires around her: the Volturi.
"Alice," I croaked, "What does that mean?"
Her eyes were still blank as she searched the future. She was trying to find where Bella was now…but she was with Renesmee.
Hiding, I realized with shock. She'd used Renesmee to get herself as far away from us as possible before she made up her mind and ran for it. Alice wouldn't be able to see Bella as long as she was close to Renesmee.
"Keep looking, Alice." I heard a crack, not noticing that it was the table in my hands. The chess board fell to the ground, the pieces scattering everywhere.
Abruptly we could see Bella running through the forest. She must have enough distance from Renesmee to be seen by Alice. Bella was probably outstripping the half-human Renesmee with ease. There was no way we could catch her, either. They'd driven several miles away in the car before even starting out on foot. There were at least 20 miles away from the house.
Then the vision took an even darker turn.
Bella enveloped in Aro's arms in a hug. I hissed angrily.
Bella talking strategy with the Volturi. Explaining all our weaknesses. Explaining our greatest secret of all: William.
Bella drinking blood from a human for the first time.
I felt dizzy with all the visions that flashed across my mind.
The images shifted, back to where Bella was now, going swiftly through the forest. She was chanting something.
"Edward, read the note, read the note. Edward, read the note…"
"Note?" I muttered, standing up. I couldn't look at anyone. I was nearly mindless as I ran to my car. I flung open the door, ripping off the handle in the process. I grappled around inside, looking for a note from Bella.
I pulled the keys from my pocket and was turning the ignition when Jacob opened the door.
"Renesmee." Was his most prominent thought. Renesmee who might still be chasing after her mother. Alice would be unable to see if she was.
I nodded, waiting for him to close the door before furiously backing out of the driveway and getting out on the highway. I had to check the other car – Renesmee and Jacob's car. The one they had taken to go hunting in.
I was going well over 100 miles an hour, passing cars hurriedly, before making a wild turn down a deserted dirt road where I saw the Black's car sitting.
I jumped out of my car in a flash and was in the other car searching for the note. I think I broke the handle on that car, too. I found the note right under the sun visor of the passenger seat.
My breath came out roughly, I barely acknowledged Jacob telling me he was going after Renesmee.
I read the note, my dead heart shriveling with each word.
DO NOT come after me.
I love you, but after all these years, I finally realized that I love myself more. Love my immortality more. I don't want to die. I hope you can understand that. I'd rather be responsible for killing you all than die. I know I will survive if I offer my services to the Volturi. Don't take it personally., I just know they will protect me.
I will do anything to survive.
Author's Note: The next two chapters are finished and will be posted over the next few days. They may come up faster if I get a lot of reviews…Constructive criticism welcome!