Chapter 24

I unsheathed my sword and took two steps back going directly into a defensive crouch. It took only a eighth of a second to realize what I was about to do. My shield went up around my true family and with one step to my left, I was in striking distance and my right arm swung down with heated force.

'Someone start a fire! Quick!' I mentally gave the order to anyone who would listen. I felt my sword slice through the bone with no resistance. Aro's head fell to the ground and I set my sights on Caius. I held up my sword and flung it in his direction. 'Sam, only go after those who fight back.' The wolves made their way behind the wives. The majority of the witnesses were running away but there were some from the guard that wanted to avenge Aro's dismemberment. Renata and Chelsea were the first that I saw being torn apart. I saw one of the wolves break through the wall that should have protected Caius and Aro and Marcus from any opposition and continue ripping Caius to pieces. Bits of marble were strewn into the fire pit that Alice made. 'Don't throw Aro in just yet. Keep him separated Emmett.'

'Demetri, Jane, Marcus, Alec, Corin, and Felix. If you wish to live, I order you to stand down. Now!' Demetri and Jane held their hands out in surrender and quietly ordered their teams to surrender. The Italian vampires took their cues from the remaining leaders of the Volturi.

"I've deceived you. And I've taken two of your leaders. They wanted to kill the Cullen's for no other reason but for greed. If you wish to follow in their footsteps by all means, step forward and we'll end this quickly."

"And if we back off? What next? Will you come for us then?" Marcus asked.

"You go back to Volterra, never to come for the Cullen's, the wolves, or for any of our witnesses in retaliation. Marcus, I've always trusted you, and I will trust you to restructure the Volturi. There may be an uprising of vampire crimes once the news of Aro's death is heard. You will need to be in place for that. But no, I nor any of us here will come to Volterra with violence towards any of you in regards to today."

"You know I always knew you would be the one that was prophesied, and sort of hoped that this was how this day would end. Aro has caused so much pain since his reign began and I believe it's time he learned his lesson." He was looking at Aro's body that was struggling to get to its head against Emmett's stone body. Rose was holding Aro's head by his long black hair, as if it was a stinky bag of garbage.

"There is something that you should know, Bella before we depart." I looked at the wives and they were grieving for their husbands. I started to feel pangs of guilt of taking their mates from them.

"The day you were changed, it wasn't just Aro who bit you. Myself and Caius also bit you. Combined with our age and the potency of our venom, I believe that was the reason your transformation lasted only one day. And also why you have three gifts." He smiled when I looked back at him with shock.

"You knew?" I looked at Aro's head, he was listening to the conversation, though there was nothing he could do about it.

"I did. Eleazar and I talk frequently. You see, I never intended to stay with the Volturi, and planned on leaving with my wife Didyme, before Aro killed her. We wanted to make a break for it, similar to Eleazar and Carmen. But alas, tragedy happened and Chelsea's gift wouldn't let me leave. When you visited Eleazar in Alaska, he hinted about your third gift being obsolete and that wasn't the case. He knew Aro wouldn't let you out of his sight without one of your guards. After all, you were the one that was prophesied to kill him. He wanted to let you know about it, without arousing suspicion from Aro. The rest was up to you to figure out. And by the looks of today's outcome, you did."

"What does he mean?" Rosalie asked.

"It means I kept vital information about my plan from all of you. I told you the majority of my dream but what I never shared with you was the mechanics of how Aro was defeated. In order for me to get close enough to him to kill him, I needed to betray you. I couldn't risk telling any of you of the plan because of Aro's gift. I wasn't sure where Marcus stood in the matter, so the betrayal you felt would have instantly changed the aura of our relationships. I also used Alice's blindness due to the wolves, with them involved, I knew it was definite that I could keep my true intentions from you without having ot change my mind every three seconds. I needed you all to believe that I hated you enough to kill you in order to kill Aro. I'm so sorry."

Esme came over to me to give me a lasting hug.

"Eleazar called me, while you and Aro were still in the air returning from your first trip, and spoke about your three gifts. I was only able to keep it from Aro because I tried not to think about it. It also helped that since Didyme's death, I'd hardly had much of an opinion of anything and Aro grew tired of reading my empty thoughts. Bella, I am proud of you."

I gave Marcus a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Little by little, I noticed that many of the vampires that were here to assist us were leaving. I felt bad because as it turned out, they weren't really needed.

"You're still Princess of the Volturi, I would never take that from you. Anytime you would like to visit, you may."

"I'd like that, really. I love all of you still." I made a point to look at all of the survivors of the guard. I couldn't have survived any of what I thought would have been the darkest period of my life otherwise. "I would love it if all of you came to my wedding in December. It'll be here in Forks." I was hopeful that my bridge to Volterra could be repaired.

Jane walked up to me and gave me a hug. I couldn't keep the incredulous look off of my face and she giggled.

"Bella, you'll always be like an older sister to me. In time I'll get over Aro, I loved him like a father too. But you know, our kind is easily distracted." She gave me a wink and I shuddered at her last words. Edward had said that to me in the forest. I never realized just how close they were to be able to eavesdrop on our conversation that day.

Demetri and Felix also took turns giving me a hug, though Edward growled when Demetri gave me an extended kiss. "Relax, mind-reader. You should know there's no meaning behind the kiss. Besides, it's not the first time we've kissed." Demetri wiggled his eyebrows twice in Edward's direction before Edward tried pouncing on him. Just before he was about to hit his mark, I pushed Demetri halfway across the field. By the time Edward readjusted his landing, Demetri was back within the circle of the Volturi. "Thanks, babe."

'Demetri, don't call me that ever again.' I threatened, but I meant it to sound playful. My Volturi family and my Cullen family were together in a simple truce. Speaking of truces.

I watched the guard dissipate in the forest, in the same swift motion that they entered. I walked over to Sam and Jacob who I noticed at some point phased back into human form. The rest of the wolves were nowhere to be seen, but I could still hear them in the outskirts of the forest around us.

"That was well played Bella." I could hear the admiration in Sam's voice.

"Thank you. I promised I would protect you didn't I? I meant it."

"I see. Seeing as how everything turned out, I'm willing to renegotiate the terms of the treaty. I think the animosity between our two tribes have gone on long enough."

"That would be great Sam." Carlisle nodded to the Alpha male, with respect. I smiled in knowing that I was wrong in thinking that Carlisle had hoped for things to change between us and the wolves. In that respect, I was more than happy to say I was wrong.

"You know, I knew you were up to somrthing, all along." Edward said.

'Oh really. Maybe I'm not so good of an actress as I thought. When did you figure it out?'

"When you told Aro the gifts of some of the vampires that we gathered. None of us had those gifts or anything like them."

I let out a light chuckle, "Oh and you think you're so smart now don't you?"

Edward held up two fingers, indicating a small amount, "Just a little bit." He bent over enough to give me a kiss, one that I was missing for those brief momments I had to leave his side.

"What are you thinking of love?" Edward's velvet voice brought me out of thoughts.

"How everything worked out. Every ending that we could have hoped for, ended perfectly."

Emmett cleared his throat loudly, crying for our attention. "And what do you want to do with this guy? He's starting to get heavy."

I laughed knowing that weight wasn't a problem for vampires, least of all Emmett.

"Bella, I'll have you remember the mercy you showed Laurent in Volterra. I'd beg of the same mercy." I was taken aback that a disjointed body could still talk and move.

"Funny, I would have thought begging was beneath you Aro." I said. I was standing closer to Rose and his head than I was to Aro's body. That was just a creepy sight.

"You showed mercy on someone who was sent to bring you to a slow and excruciating time of torture. I would have done none of that. Show mercy on my existence. Let me go back to Volterra and be with my wife."

"Father," I knelt down so I could give him a kiss on his forehead. "Someone once told me that I don't see myself very clearly. And maybe he's right, especially today. Laurent may have been a threat to me, but you were a threat to the people that I value more than my life. The mercy that you speak of, it's run out."

I grabbed Aro's head from Rose's hand, and flung it into the fire pit. Emmett followed suit and threw the lifeless body into the pit as well.

I watched the flames dancing over his body, the fire consuming the fuel that nourished it.

"Is that all love?" I let Edward's voice wrap my consciousness in sweet silent darkness. It was a slow vision, one that started in love and peace and then ended with destruction.

I hoped the smile that I plastered on my face was peaceful. I gave Edward a kiss on his cheek. "For now, love. For now."

A/N: Ok I have an idea for a sequel to this story, but I'm deciding if I'll just continue the story under Morning Moon, or just starting a whole new story. I will let you guys decide, but no matter what, just remember that it will be a while before I post any new stories up. I have another story that I' in the process of writing out on paper, that I will be posting up before I start another story. Working on two stories was just too killer for me. So I'll be working on one at a time again, sorry. As always let me know what you think with your reviews. You guys are absolutely the best! Marajade and jeh you guys rock!!!

Thanks to all of you who liked the stories and took the time to review. And even if you didn't review,I still thank you as well, just knowing you guys read and liked (maybe??) my stories is enough!!

Jshai