How long had it been since Alice had left us?

It had been little over a month, though it seemed longer, and I still thought about her everyday. I felt guilty, selfish, for wishing she were here. For wishing to have her back, to have her cheerful nature fill the house, to hear her voice, and her laughter.

For wishing Esme could have her daughter back.

For wishing Rosalie, and Edward, and Emmett had their sister back.

For wishing that Bella's best friend and Nessie's aunt would return.

Then they could stop missing her.

But she had left for a reason, Jasper reminded me on occasion. He reminded all of us, when we needed it. She still loved us, we were still her family. Whatever reason she had left, Alice still loved us. She had had no other choice but to leave, Jasper believed.

He believed she would come back as well.

I don't know how he did it. How he found the strength to live through each day without her. They had been incredibly close, incredibly in love. But he somehow carried on without her.

He went to school, as usual. He watched football with Emmett. He read and played with Nessie. He played the guitar, he could often be found in the garden with Esme. He went on as normal, reminding us that it was okay to go on living, that it was okay to do things we enjoyed.

That it was okay to be happy, and to laugh, and joke, and smile.

That life went on.

Even if he laughed less often, even if his smiles were increasingly rare. It was only to be expected, with her gone. It was only natural that his loss would affect him somehow.

But life went on.

Esme sat beside me, leaning against me as I read. Emmett and Jasper were watching the game, Jacob was trying to explain to Nessie why humans wanted to play a game with such potential for injury when they were such fragile creatures, and why anyone would want to watch it. Edward sat with Bella on his lap, their attention on each other.

My head jerked up at the sound of laughter, and I was surprised to find the sound had come from Jasper. His eyes were sparkling as he rose from the couch and darted outside. I followed him, confused, worried, and even a little bit hopeful, for with the life suddenly in his eyes, in his movements, one could plainly see just how much agony he had been in during her absence. The rest of the family followed us, concerned as well, but daring to hope that perhaps-

Perhaps she had returned.

All the same, I could scarcely believe my eyes. A vampire was running towards us, through the trees and out into the clearing around our house.

Alice was back.

"Alice!" Jasper was running to meet her. She didn't slow down, or stop, but merely grabbed his hand as they met to pull him with her.

"No time!" She was telling him, her voice urgent. "They're coming. The Volturi." She replied to his unasked question. Before I had a chance to wonder why the Volturi were here, Alice and Jasper were with us, and a cruel laugh echoed through the open air.

"Told you." Said a vampire as they appeared. How had we not noticed their presence around our home? "One little vision after being deprived of them for so long, and she'd come right to us." A grey haired male smirked. "And bring the whole family in on it as well."

"We can handle them." Alec laughed. I recognized several vampires now, and realized with horror that they had indeed been sent by the Volturi.

He and Jane stood back as the other vampires lunged for Alice, who was nearest to them. It was possible they thought they could subdue her quickly and have one less to worry about. They didn't count on Jasper, who stood close beside her.

Jasper snarled and threw himself into them, stirring the rest of the family into action.

And all was confusion and chaos from there.

For a while we seemed to be holding our own. For a while it seemed we had a chance. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Emmett take down Demetri, and I saw Jasper throw Alec through a tree.

Then Jane snarled and turned her attention to Jasper, who fell. He let out only a shout, but it was enough to bring Alice over to tackle Jane.

Bella was down, I realized, if Jane was using her gift.

Jasper was attacked by a vampire I didn't know, leaving Alice to deal with Jane.

All this time I was fighting Felix, trying to hold my ground. Edward came to my aid as Felix knocked me down, and was off again before I had even regained my footing. I heard Alice scream and turned to see her fall. I rushed to her side, drawing Jane's attention away from her, forcing her to focus her attention on me.

As Jane fell, fear pierced my heart and I heard a scream. I turned to watch Esme fall to another vampire.

"Carlisle!" Alice gasped as someone grabbed me from behind.

I felt suddenly weak. Tired. Dizzy and nauseous. Things I had not felt since becoming a vampire. I felt as if I were dying, or how I imagined dying would feel. It reminded me of when, near the beginning, I had tried to starve myself, and how weak I had grown then.

I tried to throw her off of me, but didn't have the strength. The black haired female laughed, and threw me backwards into a tree.

I gasped as I hit, more from the realization that I was in pain than at the pain itself, and slid to the ground. The tree was unaffected. The strange female approached me, her eyes mocking.

Jasper was there, suddenly, sinking his teeth into her arm. Alice was beside me, pulling me up roughly. I blinked as I staggered to my feet. Alice's grip on my arm was painful.

The female got her own teeth into Jasper's shoulder then, and he let loose a snarl, trying to get her off.

She loosed, then went for his throat, and they both were down on the ground, growling and rolling around.

Shouts and screams and curses filled the air, and it hit me.

We were losing.

Bella was down, and Esme. Emmett was nowhere to be seen. Jasper was down too, I realized as his opponent rose from the grass.

Another shout, and three more vampires joined the fray, two of them letting loose cries that were inhuman, full of rage and challenge. The male quickly eliminated one of our enemies, while the two females tore another in two. All three of them were fierce, better equipped for this fight than my family was. They continued their attack on our foes with little hesitation. I thought I even sensed enjoyment in the face of one the females.

Alice threw herself back into the fray, eyes blazing. Emmett resurfaced, swearing and launching into the grey haired vampire, and our side was up again.

Someone gave the call to retreat, and our attackers fell back, trying to escape.

"Carlisle!" I recognized Peter as one of the latecomers. "Do we follow or let them go?"

"They took several bodies with them." One of the females that had come with him hissed, her words laced with a Spanish accent.

"Any of ours?" His attention was focused on her. I had been completely disregarded for the moment.

"I do not think so." She replied, right before the forest around us burst into flame.

"Covering their tracks." Peter shouted. "Get out of here! Meet up at the house!" He turned to Alice as he joined us. "Tell Charlotte I'm trying to find out what I can before the fire destroys everything." He turned to glance at me. "And get him inside!"

Disclaimer: Neither Twilight nor any of its characters are in my possession.