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EPILOGUE

(Rose's incomparable POV)

15 Years Later

Time only served to remind me of my eternity as a vampire. Rarely had I felt time like the last 15 years of my life. It moved more quickly, more defined, more full after we adopted our Melanie. But it also moved with purpose toward a date – the date she would be changed into a vampire. Life would either stop, or begin toward an eternity. I gave her that choice.

Days were spent watching every little thing that made her human. I took so many photos. And Alice, with each passing year she outfitted Melanie in the latest styles, always keeping her up-to-date for school. Each new hair style, each new friend, each recital, or dance, or sport she took up, were recorded.

She was outgoing and a quick learner. Her eyes held such depth, like she not only saw what was in front of her, but what was just past and further ahead. She lived her life knowing her future. I wondered if I knew this future life - if I'd have the same courage she had.

Being on her own made her so independent and at times, it caused us to have rigorous discussions. Emmett was our peacemaker. She could be almost as stubborn as me.

Each age held such distinction too. Shortly after we adopted her she called me mom. She was so sweet and from that moment on I was her mom. Emmett was her dad. And then the teen years came and she could be so demanding, but then by age 15 she was sweet again. It took quite a bit to figure out how to be a mom. By age 17 we were best of friends and I'm not sure it mattered.

Alice, Bella, Leah and I doted on her. She would run off to La Push many times and spend the night with Leah and Jacob. They did become her godparents and she was baptized and also made a member of the Quileute Tribe. She stood with both feet on each territory. And she was so loved. Sue even saw her as a granddaughter and she called her grandma in return. Carlisle was Grandpa, Esme was Grandma, and then everyone else was Uncle or Aunt.

This was a special day, her graduation from The University of Washington. She worked hard to this date so that she would be a Doctor of Psychology by the age of 24. She wanted to be able to counsel young people, no matter where we traveled. She wanted to help displaced children. She had such a wonderful heart for children.

When I approached her, her classmates always commented, "Your mom looks so young, Mel."

"I know," Melanie hugged me, "She's a natural beauty."

I'd feign embarrassment. And then they would always remark how they saw the resemblance. It was so funny how people could see what they want to see. We did have similar features, but she was so bright and pure to me. She had the lightest strawberry blonde hair and those bright green eyes. I hated that when she'd be changed they would no longer show.

The friends were also amazed at how large Melanie's extended family was. Practically all of the Quileute tribe came out for her graduation, our friends from the Denali clan, and then of course us. We took up almost an entire section of the audience.

Afterward we had a party. All were invited to our house to celebrate Melanie Cullen graduating college. Her friends came up and there was dancing and music until two in the morning.

And then there was that special someone who had always looked after Melanie while she grew up. He hadn't changed since she first met him. He stopped aging at 24 because he wanted to remain her age.

I used to wonder why he was always coming by. He never told anyone. It was so common in the past we thought nothing of it. But something happened and only Seth knew – he'd imprinted on Melanie when she was nine. He thought at first it was the emotions like all the wolves felt toward her, but then something inside told him it was different. He tested it. He would run off and then a sharp pain would hit and he'd have to return. He did this constantly through her teen years, fearful of what I would do to him if I found out he imprinted on my daughter.

He shouldn't have. He was Leah's little brother and I knew him to be one of the kindest young men I'd met of the Quileute's, or possibly anyone in all my years. He was trusted and it almost made perfect sense. Leah was the reason Melanie was with us. She found her little brother's imprint and my daughter, and someone that she and Jacob loved greatly as if their own.

Eventually someone was looking out for Leah because within four years after we adopted Melanie she got pregnant. She stopped shape shifting again and this time it didn't return. She got pregnant, and although fearful, carried it full term and her first child was born, Lily Clearwater. Two years later her second child was born, Rose Clearwater, and we were expecting her third child to also be named after a flower, but no, it was a boy and they named him Jacob Black Jr. We all called him JB.

Leah and Jacob were so happy with such a large family. For the first time Leah could live without heartbreak.

And Melanie became her main babysitter. She would go over and watch the kids and sometimes Seth would join her. They had become the best of friends and now were inseparably in love.

They thought over options of starting a family and realized the life and future they had should not be placed on children. They would not burden a child with a mom who is a vampire and a dad who turned into a wolf. Seth was Jacob's beta wolf now since Leah no longer changed.

Melanie wanted to change and Seth wanted her to because he didn't want to lose her. We'd have the ceremony under the full moon's light and then with Seth, Jacob and Leah, nearby as possible, we wanted Carlisle to change her. Emmett considered changing her and so did I, but then we wanted it to be the man we considered our father in this life as vampires. We saw it as a very special moment, almost like baptism. All of us would work on containing her and making sure her thirst was fed so that she wouldn't hurt anyone.

Melanie, I hoped, with such strong reserve, would fall into vampirism more easily like Bella. They both chose the path of vampirism and had spent years, Melanie many more, preparing their minds for it.

And this night of change is where I begin….

The Change

The moon was full with the type of clouds overheard that travel across the sky hurried, making the moon light blink on and off. There was eeriness to this evening, and also a very… nostalgic feeling.

Seth held around Melanie, kissing her for the last time as a human. Watching my daughter cuddle with him, speaking with their eyes, pressing noses together, laughing gently and encouraging each, was something tender that I knew would make it alright for her and her life.

We knew there was no other option. The Volturi kindly staved from killing her for all this time. We were patient creatures living for eternity. Carlisle's petition had never been more fervent. And Aro listened. Marcus was sent to speak for the Volturi and he returned with a positive message regarding us and our commitment to change Melanie at the right time.

Melanie was ready, but first as our eyes met, all the talks we'd had, how I shared my own story with her and how I was changed, she looked to me and looked concerned. She was a tall young lady with a lithe and delicate build. I wondered if her lack of nutrition through the early years had hampered her in some way. She was just so thin, modelesque – I would call it. It gave her a delicate presence with her light features and flowing strawberry blonde hair. I could not love her any less if she were my real flesh and blood daughter.

She ran into my arms and I hugged her closely. "Mom," she whispered in my ear, "I know what I'm getting into and I'm good with it. Please don't worry."

"Do I look worried?"

"Yes."

We both laughed within our embrace.

"I'll try not to look worried for you… my dear, sweet girl."

When we pulled away she smiled for me once again, and this time I was sure to smile back with no worries. She then walked to the middle of the field, us surrounding her, and said, "Ready Grandpa."

I could hear Jacob speaking with Leah, "We can turn away if you like. This has to be hard to see what they're going to do to her."

"No, I want to watch. I need to know. It's what every one of them, including Rose, had to go through."

Carlisle was so gentle and Emmett held to his daughter on one side. I could hear her say, "Thanks dad."

Emmett kissed her on the cheek. "Sure – now I can take my favorite girl hunting."

"And we don't even need to belong to the NRA."

They were always joking. But it was during the joke Carlisle bit down at her neck, when her mind was on other things. She would soon be flooded with pain.

Melanie fell to the grass and I could feel the tension from the wolves. It was everything for them not to change and want to devour Carlisle for what he was doing. Melanie squirmed, writhing, and screaming in pain, and then stopped suddenly. It was as if she realized she was screaming and decided she shouldn't.

Emmett held her tightly as her body lurched painfully in the grass, and Carlisle held her other side. She was kicking and gritting her teeth, crying in pain, despite her no longer screaming I could hear her low painful whimpers.

I ran over kneeling at her head, "It will be alright." I brushed at her hair and her eyes were rolling into the back of her head. She looked like someone having a seizure. I continued brushing across her hair. "It will be alright my baby."

She closed her eyes and just settled in the grass on her back. My love was holding her down at her right and Carlisle was at her left and I was just above her.

I could hear her breathing in short staccato breaths, and then sniffing and a light growling. It was like she was trying to figure everything out.

"Mom," she said softly, "I… I'm a little scared."

"I know."

"Don't – don't let me hurt Seth."

"I won't."

"…Or any of them."

I knew she meant the Quileute tribe. They were nearby. I looked behind me and saw Alice and Jasper, Bella and Edward and then Esme watching closely. Jacob and Leah were there, and Leah was holding Seth's arm. He had grown to be tall and handsome, with a beautiful face like his sister. He wasn't as tall as Jacob, but fairly close.

Her eyes slowly opened and I could see them, dark and hungry. I'd never see her beautiful green eyes again. I hated what we had to do to her, but I knew we had no other choice.

"I… I smell it." Melanie's eyes darted to her father and then to me. "I smell it."

She meant the blood. I knew that's what she meant. I knew what the thirst felt like and at this moment it was maddening for her. Our family was suddenly behind and nearly on top of us.

"We have to watch her closely," Carlisle told me. "Rose, it had to be done."

"I know."

"I'm sorry, Rose."

"This is life – this is… our life."

For the next two weeks we helped my daughter become a vampire. Hunting duties were switched off between all of us. Seth had to be kept away. He was going through his own pain not being able to be near his imprint and the woman he'd fallen madly in love with.

And then Leah and Jacob were out with the kids. JB, the most rambunctious of the three ran off into the woods chasing a rodent. He ran into our territory. He was quick for a five-year-old.

Seth and Embry were running patrol.

Melanie was hunting with Alice and Bella. I was in the house with Esme when something - I'm not sure what you would call it - a feeling like I'd never had. It was a sudden feeling of panic.

I took off for the woods, my senses aware of the smell. There was blood. It was the smell of very fresh blood. And then there was the smell of the wolves, many wolves. Again, I ran as fast as when I fought Liv.

In the clearing was Melanie. She sat crouched over, surrounded by wolves. Seth was beside her as a wolf, growling, and the other wolves had their hackles raised, looking like they wanted to kill my daughter. At this moment I wished I could hear what the wolves were saying to one another.

Alice and Bella were standing still watching just behind them. Not wanting to make the threat worse for Sam and his pack to attack. I then saw Leah running out from the woods.

Leah was screaming, "Wait! Wait! JB – my baby is around here!"

But then her face changed to sheer anger when she saw Melanie with her son in her arms and blood on his face.

Melanie then stood, her eyes golden now. She held JB in her arms, placed him on the ground, holding to his hand. "Leah, he's alright. He just fell. Please tell them I won't hurt him. He's alright."

She was hungry and yet she didn't injure him. My sisters looked so relieved. The relief was too much. Everyone was on edge, ready to kill the other over a child falling in the clearing.

I rushed over beside my daughter as Seth stood his ground, protecting his future wife. The other wolves suddenly, the black one, who I knew was Sam, lowered his hackles first.

Leah rushed to her little boy, scooping him in her arms, kissing him, but her eyes for the first time in years, wary over a Cullen.

"Leah," I said, "she would never hurt him."

Leah was crying. "I know. But… I worried over what I would do if she had." Her beautiful amber eyes met mine. "How could I take away your daughter from you – as if her being changed meant nothing if she died anyway?"

"If she would have hurt JB – I would have accepted your decision, Leah."

Melanie looked to me and there was no anger. She knew what type of cost it took for her to be a vampire and she knew what type of restraint she needed. She also realized, I think, for the first time how much restraint I had to place upon myself to raise her as a human child. Their blood smells more delicious and sweeter than adults.

In a strange way it was like she knew what I went through raising her, the way human children after they have children realize what their parents went through with them.

"Leah," Melanie told her godmother, "I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd have hurt JB. I would have wanted you to kill me."

Within that moment our friendship through all these years was sealed. This is what we'd been through. This is what it meant. We were born to be enemies. We fought instinct, status, everything to be the best of friends, to be there for one another, to care, to love despite the differences.

Seth was growling and I think talking over things with the other pack and they slowly left as Seth loped beside Melanie. She scratched behind his ear and kissed his snout. "Do you want to go hunting with us, hon?"

He nodded his head.

Alice and Bella grinned. Bella yelled, "Join us Rose."

"I… think I'll walk Leah and JB back to their dad."

No sooner had I said that when Jacob was running with the two other children. I guess he couldn't stand waiting any longer.

"Everything's okay now," Leah yelled to him.

Once he reached us he kissed his son and then his wife. "Good," he finished off and then looked to Seth. "Going hunting with your fiancée? – how romantic bro."

Seth made a funny whimpering, growl noise. I wondered how Jacob figured that out.

I looked to Melanie once more and then she was sure to run up, hug and give me a kiss on the cheek and then parted with, "I'm going to go hunting with my future husband who's a wolf. How hot is that?" She winked and then took off with Seth running beside her and Bella and Alice.

"Have fun," I yelled quickly.

I turned to see Jacob shaking his head. He then looked to Leah and then me, and then back to Leah. "Say Lee, why don't I take the kids now that we're sure there isn't a vampire threat and you spend some time with Blondie."

"Thank you Jacob, for reminding me why I used to find you so irritating," I said.

He chuckled loudly and my dear little nieces smacked their daddy, each telling him not to call Aunt Rose Blondie because she doesn't like it. Lily and JB looked like Leah, and their daughter, Rose, looked more like Jacob. Now if that wasn't irony, I don't know what was.

They walked off and it was just me and Leah.

"Hey," she said, wrapping an arm around my shoulder, "Want to go smoke some pot at the greenhouse? I got no kids and the afternoon to myself."

I laughed low, considering how we first met. "Sure – it looks like my afternoon is free. And you seriously need to get out more if this is all you can think to do on a free afternoon."

We laughed walking together, arm in arm, all the way back to the greenhouse.

~~~~The End~~~~

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