I will save the rest of my talking until the end.
So, my dear readers, whether you are new or you've been here since June 15th 2009, I invite you to sit back and enjoy the final chapter of Children of the Moon.
*August 2011* This story has been redone! I rewrote 80% of the chapters to fix plot holes and make things sound better.
The moon was full; Celbra's light filled the valley where Nadja had stood for centuries. All of those who'd been sent away for safety were called back and the werewolves had welcomed all of the survivors from the battle into their village with open arms after all of the fallen had been properly buried and the vampire ashes, both enemy and ally, were scattered throughout the clearing.
The enemy casualties were double ours, but more than a few wolves would be sleeping alone in their beds tonight.
About twenty-five vampires on the Volturi's side had abandoned them the moment Chelsea died and her hold over them had vanished. Among them were Mary, Randall, Amun and his mate Kebi, all of who had been on our side last time, but they were caught and "persuaded" by the Volturi to join their cause. All four of them were killed in the battle, but no one was exactly sure how and if they did know they weren't telling.
Stefan, one of the Romanian vampires, had also met his end. Vladimir was nothing short of homicidal afterwards. He insisted that everyone who had been on the Volturi's side—including the two vampires, Shino and Kiki, who had joined us before the battle and never raised a single finger against us—should be executed. Of course, his demands were ignored, which only served to piss him off even further. He refused to come to the victory celebration and slinked away to his shadowy hidey-hole. I supposed we'd have to worry about him later.
Among all the vampires who had sided with us, we lost nine: Tanya of the Denali coven, Liam of the Irish coven, Charles and his mate Makenna, Yamai the half-blood, and the nomads, Charlotte, Niles and Juliet. After Celbra's departure, Jasper's old friend Peter threw himself into one of the pyres to be with his mate Charlotte in the afterlife the moon angel had promised them. Jasper was distraught as Peter had been a good friend of his. The original members of the Crescent pack were not taking Mint's death easily; she'd been one of them for so long. Evan the cat-shifter, two eagles named Eva and Quinn, a hawk named Jude, and a tiger named Hua died, along with dozens of werewolves. None of the leopards, mountain lions, dogs, coyotes, or the African lion died—they were the lucky ones, they had no one to personally mourn.
Marcus was the soul-surviving founder of the Volturi. After a discussion with Arlin and Carlisle, he decided to continue on the Volturi's mission with the surviving members of the Guard and the other vampires who decided to join with them. Now that Aro and Caius, and their extreme views, were out of the equation things would be better for everyone.
I walked through Nadja, still wearing the white dress plus some beaded jewelry, given to me by one of the werewolves, around my neck and waist. The village was alight with dozens torches and bonfires scattered around the many streets. I doubted anyone had ever seen anything like this before: werewolves, Crescents, vampires, shape-shifters, Halflings, and witches all together in the same place, all in harmony. Music made by drums, shakers, tambourines, stringed instruments, and flutes filled the village. The aromas of cooked meat and blood (animal blood extracted from all the recent kills had been placed into bottles for the vampires to enjoy) were thick in the air.
All the vampires had been given one or more garments of animal skin to wear to replace what had been ruined. Some of them had abandoned their human clothes altogether for the werewolf garb. The Amazonians were only too eager to return to the animal skins they were used to.
Now that these vampires had pushed aside the whole "mortal enemies" thing, they were getting along with the werewolves.
The little werewolf, Ashay, scowled angrily at Emmett, "No, silly vampire. It not go on head. You wear around belly!"
Emmett took the belt off his head. "Are you sure? I could've sworn belts go on heads…"
"No, no, no!" Ashay stamped her little foot. "Around belly!"
Rosalie laughed and Emmett grinned as he fastened the belt around his waist. "Like this?"
"Yes!" Ashay grinned and clapped.
I paused by a large bonfire where werewolves were dancing while a few vampires were cautiously trying out the steps. The dancers performed moves usually seen in Arabian, Chinese, Native American, Russian, European, and gypsy cultures. Most of the werewolves in this village had been refugees from all over the Old World; it made sense that their dancing would include elements from their homelands.
Some of the vampires were having a bit of trouble, like Margaret, Jamie, Farrell, Carmen, and Maggie. Despite their natural grace, the five vampires just seemed a little out of place among the dancing werewolves. If they weren't vampires, I would've bet anything that they would be stumbling around like humans. Not everyone had the same difficulty, of course. Tia was twirling and bending like she'd probably learned to do as a human and Benjamin was moving right along with her, the perfect dancing partner. Kachiri made the dances seem effortless. Elizabeth seemed to have no trouble as she jumped and weaved among the werewolves. Even Maiten, Nahuel's little brother, looked pretty graceful.
"Hey, Leah, come on!" Alba detached herself from the dancers and hurried over to me. "Come on, you have to try!"
"Ah," I started to protest but she pulled me over anyway. "I'm not really a dancer."
"These are werewolf dances, Mama." Alba explained patiently. "You're a wolf, you won't have any trouble."
"Is that why they can't seem to get it right?" I gestured at Margaret and Maggie.
Alba nodded. "I'm guessing that Celbra's mark is the only reason they can even do a rudimentary job. Otherwise the steps would be incomprehensible to them as they tried to perform it. Just like our language. Hmm…you know what? I'll bet Carlisle could learn more of it if he tried now…"
"What about them?" I pointed at Tia and the others doing a fairly good job. "They're doing well enough."
"They must have werewolf somewhere in their ancestry." Alba shrugged. "Penny would probably be able to dance too, if she tried."
I looked at Tia, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Kachiri, and Maiten. I couldn't really see anything in their smooth pale skins or in their crimson eyes that revealed any werewolf heritage at all.
I shrugged, "If you say so." It wasn't really my business, anyway.
Alba tugged on my arm again and I was pulled into the dance. "But, Alba, I have no idea what to do!"
Alba was already swaying to the beat. "Just watch and listen. You'll catch on really quick." With a twist and a leap she was lost into the mass of dancers.
I sighed and looked around at the various dancers that passed me. They moved to avoid me without so much as breaking stride, as if going around my body was just a natural part of the dance. Kudos, guys, I thought. After a minute or so I was starting to make sense of their movements and the way the music subtly gave orders. That still didn't make me want to dance. I wasn't a dancer. I held my ground.
Come on, Leah. Noami laughed fondly in my ear. Celbra is watching, you know. Why can you not dance for her? She returned your mate to you, why not do something for her now, even if it may seem insignificant?
"Because I'm not a dancer," I muttered through unmoving lips.
Do you think vampires like Benjamin and Kachiri are? Yet look at them now. Go on, Leah, you can do it. It is in your blood; now go on before I bite you.
"You can't. You're dead." Ugh, listen to yourself, Leah, I thought. Lookout world, here comes the new Melinda Gordon!
Do not tempt me, Leah. Noami warned. Get your tail into gear and just go!
I sighed and closed by eyes then leaped into the dancing. I listened to the beat and it was as if my body took direction from the magic in the music. I ducked, stepped, twisted, dipped, and weaved around the other dancers. I recognized a lot of the werewolves from the first time I visited the village. They seemed thrilled that I seemed to know the dances.
"Not bad for a beginner." Elizabeth teased from behind. I turned, still stepping with the dance. Her long red hair was hanging loose except for a few small braids scattered here and there.
"So I guess you've been doing this for a while now?" I asked.
She laughed and lightly leaped over my head. I turned, instinctively keeping the vampire in my line of sight. "No, but you make it look so easy. I feel like I might bump into someone half the time."
"Just don't think about it," I suggested. "I actually have no idea what I'm doing here."
"I'm just doing what the music tells me."
"It's different for me," she said, almost sadly, but she perked up right away. "But it's still fun."
"And that's the whole point, I guess." I wasn't exactly having fun…ok that's a lie. I totally was.
"Hmm, do you think I should make Kane get in here and dance?" Elizabeth's eyes sparkled with mischief.
I turned my head until I saw the dark vampire watching from the sidelines. "Eh, better not. He doesn't seem like the dancing type." But neither was I.
"You're right," she sighed.
I managed to escape the dancing not long after and I sat down on a log among the spectators.
Alba sat down beside me. "Did you have fun?
I sighed. "It wasn't that bad—hey, now where are we going?"
Alba giggled as she pulled me away from the dancers. "Jacob's having a story time for anyone who wants to listen."
"What's he telling?"
"When I left he was talking about how your people became aware that they could shape-shift." She said. "He's a good storyteller, just like when we were pups."
I smiled, remembering the good old days, then with a pang I thought of Luna who would never get to leave the strange world in between life and death. No matter what may have happened, I would be eternally grateful to her. She'd given me Sash back. Speaking of which…
"Oh he's with Pap somewhere."
So Pap was here, was he? Well scratch what I said earlier. There vampires, Crescents, werewolves, witches, shape-shifters, Halflings, and humans all together in the same place, all peaceful. This night was nothing short of a miracle.
I was led over to a smaller bonfire where Jacob was sitting on an excellently crafted wooden chair, animatedly telling the story of the Cold Ones to a bunch of werewolves, young and old, a few Crescents, shape-shifters, and even a few curious vampires.
"The people were terrified that the Cold Man had not been alone. They feared that one day another would come to terrorize them. And one day…" his voice dropped and everyone visibly leaned forward. "She did." He raised his voice back to normal volume.
"She came out of nowhere, a beautiful Cold Woman with light hair and a high, musical voice. She spoke in a language none of them could understand. People thought she was some sort of goddess…except for one small boy, a descendent of Taha Aki, who screamed that his nose was burning from the smell. One of Taha Aki's elder warriors realized what had come among them and screamed for the villagers to run. She killed him first. Only a few of the original people who saw her arrive lived. She ran throughout the village, taking her anger out on the people."
"Why didn't the wolves just kill her?" An eagle girl asked.
"Well, there was only one left, remember?" Jacob said. "Yaha Uta did confront her and fought like the brave wolf he was, but he fell. In rage, Taha Aki ran at the woman and shifted into his wolf form for the first time in decades. But he was old and weak. Taha Aki's Third Wife could see that he would lose and she feared that her two young sons would die if her husband fell so she took the knife from her son's belt and stabbed herself."
Almost everyone gasped and Barley snorted. "That was dumb."
Jacob shot him a look. "The fresh blood distracted the Cold Woman long enough for Taha—"
"Now that was really dumb!" Barley blurted out. "She could've just made her dead son bleed or something. That blood would've—"
"Will someone please muzzle him?" Garrett glared at Barley. "I would like to hear the rest of this story."
Briar twisted around and decked Barley right in the mouth. "Shut up, dope." She growled while he gawked at her. "You may proceed now, Jacob."
"Thank you. As I was saying, the Third Wife's blood distracted the Cold Woman long enough for Taha Aki to get free. Furious about their mother's death, her two young sons leaped at the Cold Woman and shifted into wolves for the first time, even though they weren't grown yet. They helped their father finish the Cold Woman. It was the Third Wife's sacrifice that saved the village, not just the might of the wolves."
"You know," one of the former vampires of the Volturi said suddenly. "I always wondered what happened to Maurice and Amelia after they went to explore the western world."
Jacob stared. "You think it was them?"
The vampire looked thoughtful. "Well, didn't your legends describe her with very long blonde hair?"
"That was probably Amelia. Hmm. Interesting."
I walked some more through the village, partially searching for Sash, partially watching people enjoy themselves. As I passed the Alpha dens I heard Arlin discussing with someone about holding an annual memorial for those lost today. I thought it was a good idea.
I looked down at my arms. On my right arm I had the Quileute pack brand and just below it an inch-thick black band completely circling my arm; the traditional brand of a werewolf. One of the Shamans gave it to me earlier that day. And on my left arm, gleaming silver, was the outline of a crescent moon, filled with smaller crescent moon designs that weaved together to form a beautiful, intricate pattern that marked me as one of the "Chosen Ones" as some werewolves were now referring to everyone in the Prophecy as.
Part of me felt bad, knowing that tomorrow we would begin the long and hard task of telling the families of the deceased shape-shifters and Crescents that their children had died. I was determined to go with each and every clan back to their homes and be there as they told the parents. I felt somewhat responsible for their deaths. I feared telling Embry's mom more than any of the others. She'd never been too comfortable with her son being a werewolf and now she and Kayla had to find out that he'd died and they wouldn't even be able to see his body. His final resting place would be beside the eagle-shifter, Eva, alongside the others in the field where they'd died fighting for freedom. It would be just too difficult to transport all of the bodies thousands of miles to their homes across the world.
I gave my head a quick shake. I didn't want to think about those depressing thoughts, not yet. It wasn't until tomorrow and I had the whole night to enjoy our victory and the knowledge that my life was now my own and no matter what I did, it hadn't already been previously decided by any prophecies.
I found Sash sitting by Pap and Maisha who was eagerly explaining what her life had been like after leaving him and Nana. He'd traded the white gown he'd "woken up" in for a simple pair of skin pants. Penny sat nearby, still in her gown, watching morosely as her grandfather and the werewolf conversed.
"What's wrong, Penny?" I asked.
"I can't decide who to sit closer to." she sighed. "He smells good enough to eat—I'm sure you can tell why I find that so wrong—and she stinks like a dog!"
Maisha's lavender eyes flashed yellow for a second and she threw Penny a dark look. "You do not smell so pleasant yourself." She growled.
Penny rolled her eyes and I laughed.
"Hey, you don't smell any better, so shut it." Penny shot me a look and I bit back a sigh.
Her penitent attitude from earlier today had already worn off. She'd hated my guts when she became a vampire and vampires didn't usually change their likes and dislikes—they were as set in stone as their physical features—so I didn't really expect her to get over her aversion to me in just a few short hours. We may never be friends, but at least she tolerated me enough to not want a fight—surprisingly similar to the relationship I had with Bella most of the time, except that I was the Bella of this equation, something I didn't like too much. Still. I could live with the arrangement and so could she and that was what mattered.
Pap turned me and he smiled. "Hello, Leah."
"Hey, Pap, how the hell did you get here? Ah, whoops, I mean, how did you get here?"
"Sam came to La Push to inform everyone about Embry and once I heard what had happened to Sash I demanded he bring me."
So Ms Call and Kayla already knew. Glad I wasn't in La Push…
"Bet you're glad to finally see this place." I pointed over my shoulder with my thumb.
"Yes," Pap sighed. "Ruth would've loved it."
I nodded. "Probably."
I think it looks awesome, Embry's voice said in my ears and I had to force myself not to yelp.
I was going to have to get used to the whole seeing/hearing the dead thing. Thankfully it seemed to be limited to wolves, shifters, and vampires, which was just fine with me. Hopefully it would die down some once the whole victory buzz wore off and I got the hell away from the village.
Leah, hey Leah, you can hear me, can't you? Embry sounded mischievous. I tried to keep a straight face. C'mon, Lee, I know you hear me. Don't play dumb, Noami told me you can. C'mon, Leah!
Don't respond, I told myself.
…Alright, you asked for it. … Ninety-nine bottles of bear on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer! Take one down, pass it around, ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall!
Oh god. I gritted my teeth and tried to endure it for as long as possible. But…he…didn't…stop!
Ninety-three bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-three bottles of beer…!
Sash scooted over to me, smiling apologetically. He, too, could hear Embry since he'd died and come back. However, he said nothing to distract me from the endless chorus. Finally after there were eighty-one bottles of beer left on the god forsaken wall, I snapped.
"Shut the fuck up and go away, Embry!" I snarled. "Yes, you asshole, I can hear every damn word you're saying! Your singing sucks! Now get your furry ass out of here and shut the hell up or I'm not telling Kayla a single damn thing you said! Got it?"
Everyone within hearing distance stared at me and Embry whined. I narrowed my eyes and I could see him (he had the almost holographic look like all the others) sitting a few feet away in his wolf form like all the other spirits, save Liam.
Ah, Leah, c'mon, you promised!
"Well I promise you that if you don't shut up I'm not going anywhere near La Push for you!"
Where's the love?
"I can't believe I cried for you earlier."
That hurts, Leah. That really hurts.
"You'll live." I snapped.
Embry laughed. Alright, it's been fun. This is Embry signing off. Remember kids; stay in school and save sex for marriage.
"Fuck you, Embry."
I heard Embry laugh again, the sound grew fainter until it vanished altogether and I exhaled in relief. Everyone was still staring at me with expressions that ranged from amusement, to confusion, to plain blank shock.
"Sorry, everyone, it was just the ghost of a dead pack mate who decided to annoy me." I said nonchalantly. "You may resume your celebratory activities now. Nothing to see here…"
Sash laughed and hugged me. "You're such a freak, Leah."
"Hmph, you're one to talk. You heard him talking just as clearly as I did."
"But I wasn't the one talking back."
"Exactly; you did nothing to shut him up." I glared.
Sash smiled apologetically. "I just wanted to see how long it'd take you to crack."
I gasped and elbowed him in the stomach then stood up and marched away from him. "Aww, c'mon, Lee!" he protested.
He followed me through Najda. I kept a few paces ahead of him and my nose in the air. After a few minutes my anger had ebbed and I was just doing it to tease him. I darted down streets only to double back again, weaving through the crowds. He eventually caught up with me, of course, and wrapped his arms around me like steel bars.
"Caught you! Now you're mine!"
"Gah! Let go!" I yelped.
"Do you give in?" he growled playfully.
"I'll never surrender!" I vowed and struggled.
"Excuse me, sir, but I'm going to have to ask you to step away from my sister."
I craned my neck to see around Sash. I recognized Seth's voice anywhere. He stood a few feet behind us, arms folded, a teasing smile on his face.
Sash smirked. "Oh yeah? Who's gonna make me? You, oh fearless Dreamer?"
Seth rolled his eyes. I tried to memorize the way his face shifted when he did that—I wouldn't see that much longer, he'd age soon.
Sash was distracted, his grip loosened, I jerked away. "Ahah! Victory is mine!"
"Hey!" Sash protested then shot Seth a look. "Thanks, man."
"Hey, gotta stick up for my big sister."
I jumped at him, getting him in a headlock easily. "Yeah, and don't you forget it, little brother. Doesn't matter how much you grow in the next few months, I'm always your big sister."
"Gwah! Yeah! I gotchya! Now let go!"
I released my hold and he backed away. "Glad to see you've learned your lesson. Class dismissed."
Seth rolled his eyes again and then spoke to Sash. "Do you mind giving us a minute? We need to have a private sibling conversation."
"Yes, we do."
Sash shrugged. "Sure."
"No eavesdropping." Seth warned.
"I would never…" Sash said all too innocently.
Seth sighed and folded his arms.
"Alright, alright, I'm gone." Sash put his hands in the air and walked away. Seth waited about a minute before turning to me.
"So, Leah, what now?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I mean, where do we go now? Back to San Francisco? Do we stay here? Are we going to La Push? Are we going with the Cullens? I think I heard them talking about going nomadic for a while, just for the hell of it. I guess it'd be kind of fun…"
I sighed. "I can go wherever I want and so can you. You don't have to stay with me, Seth. The kids aren't even going to be staying with me much longer, I think. Alba's going to stay here in the village and I know Neve's probably going to go back to San Francisco with the Crescents, at least until they all graduate. I don't know what Scuro and Rame will do."
Seth looked a bit sad. "What about Jacob?"
"He and Renesmee are probably going to find a place on their own. Maybe they'll get hitched soon."
Seth made a face. "She's six."
"…Ok maybe in a decade they'll get hitched."
"What about you?"
"I'm going to finish my bachelor's degree then go from there." I said. "And Sash already said he'll follow me anywhere."
"Oh." Seth looked downcast. "I guess…I guess I'll go back to La Push and stay with Mom, get an actual high school degree…maybe go to college…"
"The Cullens can probably forge you a high school degree." I said. "You've already got all the knowledge you'll need."
"True," he seemed happier with that prospect. "And in a few months I'll look old enough for college."
"There you go!"
"So, OK, I'm going back to La Push for a bit." He decided. "I'll see if Carlisle can help me with all the legal work…and after that…"
"After that is up to you." I told him. "We have a long, long time to live now."
The same thoughts seemed to be crossing everyone's mind throughout Nadja. The immediate threat was over, there was no force left able to pose a great threat to the Children of the Moon, who just wanted to live in peace and we were all alive. We could do whatever the hell we wanted.
Neve was sitting among the instrumentalists, expertly tapping away on a handmade drum, singing a wordless tune with a few others as if she'd been doing it her whole life. Her pretty blonde hair swished this way and that as she swayed back and forth. She noticed me watching her and smiled. Rame was in a deep conversation with the little vampire named Rayne who was wearing her evilgrin as she spoke. He abruptly laughed at something she said, his red hair falling in his face as he leaned forward. Alba was sitting among a group of vampires, shifters, and wolves, including Scuro, singing a song in the wolf language with a clear, ringing voice I didn't know she had.
Amari, I thought. Please take good care of Luna. Don't let her be alone there.
Jacob was sitting with his arms around Renesmee while they listened to Ducky the hyperactive witch tell a story while creating accompanying images in the air with simple flicks of her wand. Rachel sat with them, smiling peacefully. Beside her I could see the almost-not-there form of Paul who turned and flashed me a smile before resting his head the shoulder of the completely unaware Rachel. I smiled, knowing no matter what she chose, Paul would never really leave her. Oh I was sure he would back off a bit if she fell in love again, but he'd always be her silent guardian, and he'd be waiting for her when she joined him in the afterlife.
Now that the threat was over, I could see Sam and most of the others in his pack giving up their wolves soon. Sam had a family now, Jared needed to start aging or Kim would leave him behind. Collin, Brady, and Daniel needed to grow up badly. Quil would remain a wolf for at least another decade, protecting the tribe and waiting for Claire to catch up with him, but then he'd give it up to be with her.
The time of the La Push shape-shifters was drawing to a close, the moment, anyway. I was sure that one day they'd come back. If Alba's prediction from years ago was right, then Sam's children would shape-shift in years to come. And Seth and I would be around, ready to help them when the time came.
Sash found me again and I told him of my plans to go to the homes of the shape-shifters and explain to the families of the deceased, then to return to college.
"What then?" he asked. "Which world do we live in?"
"Whichever we want." I said. "We're immortal; we have plenty of time to live in both. But first thing after we graduate, I want to go to Hawaii."
"That's kind of random."
"So? I want to go to Hawaii. We can visit Rebecca Black. And we could run around and get tourists all panicked about wolves! Maybe screw with some scientist minds…"
Sash smiled, "Sounds good to me. And after that?"
"Who the hell knows?"
We had our lives, we had our freedom, we had plenty of time, and we had a whole planet to spend it on. I smiled and rested my head on his shoulder for a moment. Somewhere on the other side of camp, a werewolf started to howl. It was a howl full of all the happiness and all the grief of this day. The story of the battle, sung to Celbra by a wolf that remembered the traditions.
I smiled, letting myself drift with the music, letting the images fill my mind. I could feel the righteous fury of the werewolves. I could hear the screeching and howling. I could see the mass of pelts, feathers, and skins moving around in a deadly dance. I could taste the joy of victory.
The spell was broken.
We both spun around, searching for who gave the disgusted cry.
Margaret stood not too far away with Bella. The former was glaring at the bottle of animal blood in her hand and the latter was giggling like there was no tomorrow.
"That stuff's disgusting!"
Or is it?
... Oh my God.
It's...over. It's...it's...it's...OVER. O_O *sobs hysterically* I can't believe it. After all the sweat, tears, brooding, blood (yes bloodshed!), yelling, ranting, and plotting...it's finally over.
...AND IT'S ONLY JUST BEGINNING :D I have grown way too attached to everyone so I'm gonna be makin my own saga. :3 Chronologically, the next will be Children of the Night-though that title is subject to change. However, due to some plot holes and questions that need to be answered before I brave that tale, I will be posting 5 (WAY) smaller stories first. They are both technically novellas to COTM-kind of like The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which totally rocks, by the way.
Also, congrats to Pomagee! My 1000th reviewer!
So now, even if you never reviewed before, just review now! There is no password, just review! Fire off questions, complaints, joys...anything! It's been fun, guys. :) I've enjoyed the reviews and I'm flattered by the compliments and the knowledge that you guys care (I'm referring to the get well wishes and such :D)
Keep an eye out for one last update on Children of the Moon. It'll be me announcing which story is coming out next and it's title, possibly a link to it, too. And keep an eye out for my Hunger Games story whenever I decide to publish it. Until later, this is Moon signing off! I love you all and-
Alba: OH MY GOSH! IT'S A MOOGLE!
o_o Not again!