Summary: Five years have passed since Edward left Bella in the woods. Both Bella and the Cullens' have experienced great tragedy since they last saw each other, but what happens when they meet again, and what is the meaning of the prophecy? Bella OOC. BxJas
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters. Stephanie Meyers owns all rights and no copyright infrigment is intended. I just like playing in her sandbox.
A/N: Thank you jdcoke for your editing skills, suggestions and encouragement! Also a big thank you to all of my readers and everyone that has left a review. I appreciate every single one of you. I try to respond to each one, but lately I barely have a chance to get onto the computer, so please accept my thanks here for your comments. I truly value every review I get and every reader. Thank you!
Chapter 33 – The aftermath
The fight, though intense, really hadn't taken very long. The real challenge began after we agreed to stop fighting. There were a couple vampires with missing limbs, so the appendages were found and the fusing process begun. I was horrified to see that Rose had lost an arm, but Emmett had saved her life and was now nursing his mate back to health. Demetri's mate, Anna, had been nearly fatally injured, but they were able to start fusing the gashes in her skin back together and her neck was healing. Several people from both sides of the conflict went out to find animals for the more severely injured and it helped alleviate the remaining tension of the fight.
There were some on our side that were lost. Maggie, Liam, and Alistair, were all gone, and I felt terrible for the thought, but I was relieved my family was alright. At the same time, my heart ached for Siobhan, who had been Liam's mate. She cried out in agony, the sound full of utter despair. Losing her mate, and Maggie her coven sister, left Siobhan with no one close to comfort her. Esme took it upon herself to comfort Siobhan. They did not know each other well, but Esme had a big heart and would do her best to help. I wanted to help Siobhan with my gift, but it was too soon for me to be of much use to her. Some things you have to do for yourself, and grieving a mate is one of them.
The La Push wolves had lost two. Paul and Tyler, a wolf I hadn't known well, were bitten during the battle and were poisoned by the vampire venom that coursed through their veins. I had never known that vampire venom would not change them but was a poison to their bodies. I felt bad for them both, but especially Paul. It was strange to me…maybe surreal would be the right word…that Paul and I had never gotten along, yet I was shocked at the pain of his death. I had gotten to know him in a way when I healed him. I had gotten to know his soul, and knew he was a good man. He had a lot of chips on his shoulders, and anger issues, but underneath that all, he was a good man. I grieved his loss.
There were also two of the New York Wolves that had fallen in battle. Rachel and Henry had been killed by a couple of Caius' guard specially trained in killing wolves. It was very bloody and truly horrifying. Henry, though we hadn't really been terribly close, had watched out for me when I was at a very low place in my life. We accepted each other for who we were. We were friends. He deserved better than what he got, but he was a brave wolf and died an honorable death.
An 'honorable death' was something it took me a long time to understand, for when can death possibly be a positive thing? It was after Victoria and her newborns attacked La Push and my family that I truly understood the honor in falling in battle defending your loved ones, defending the lives and beliefs you hold close to your heart. I truly understood the bravery required to do the right thing, to fight evil, and to be willing to give your life to protect another.
These men and women did not die in vain. They died to protect the lives of their friends and family. They died to protect their right to live their lives. They died to stop a group of overgrown school-yard bullies from massacring an entire species. They were brave and their deaths would be honored. I would not let them be forgotten. Their names, all their names, would be remembered.
As the injured were being tended to, and the wolves were collecting their fallen soldiers, Jasper and I, along with several others, looked through the torn apart vampire bodies to look for those that might still be able to be healed. There were none. We built fires and burned the vampires that had been destroyed. There was no satisfaction in burning what used to be our enemy. We mourned all the lives lost and were thankful it was not more.
Marcus sat on the sidelines, observing silently. He no longer looked completely apathetic, but he looked like he just couldn't figure out what to do with himself. I was happy to see that he was no longer suicidal. As he observed, he finally noticed Esme comforting Siobhan, and after some time watching them, he made his way over, and silently took Siobhan into his arms. He knew better than most, the pain she was in.
When things settled down, one of the first decisions to make was what to do with Aro and Caius, who continued to wail and writhe on the ground. Most of us were able to ignore it, but we all knew something needed to be done.
"Young one, can you stop whatever you are doing to them?" Demetri asked.
"I'm not doing anything anymore," I said shrugging. "I gave them Marcus' pain along with my own. Nothing more, nothing less. They will probably eventually get used to it. We did," I said and then turned away from the sight, trying to feel something other than a self-righteous sense of justice.
I did feel bad for what they were experiencing, but if we were all being honest, they had brought it upon themselves. They had abused their power, and destroyed countless vampires without a second thought. They had killed, maimed, tortured, and felt that they were well within their rights to do so because of their overinflated egos.
My gift had at some point evolved into something entirely new and it no longer took every last bit of energy I had. I could see and feel the experiences that had caused the injury to the person's soul, so as I looked at Marcus, I knew what had happened that made him that way. He'd had his suspicions about who had actually killed her, but he had no way to prove his theory, and eventually lost all hope, and had become utterly apathetic.
Then as I held Marcus as he finally let out his grief, I looked over toward Marcus' brothers, and I knew the whole story. I could see it as though I was there with them as it happened…no…as though I was them as it happened. I felt their emotions, or rather lack of emotion, as they arranged the murder of their brother's wife and then carried it out themselves. They wanted his complete loyalty, and through Aro's gift they knew that his loyalty lay with his wife. Aro knew the couple wanted to leave Italy and live their own lives, away from the politics and turmoil. They had killed Marcus's wife so that he would not leave them to be alone with his wife. Then they forced him to stay when he lost all will to live.
As I had continued to look at them, I could see even more of their past deeds, each of which made a mark on their souls, regardless of their personal feelings on the situations. They killed Alice and Edward because they would not join them. They used Edward's grief over my death to get a rise out of him, and force both Alice and Edward to choose between serving on the guard, or death. They killed without remorse, and Aro took pleasure in the phone call he made to inform Carlisle of his son and daughter's 'tragic demise'. The look on Edward's face when he asked to die…the pleasure Aro took in his pain…the guilt Edward felt as they killed Alice in front of him, tearing her apart and throwing the pieces in the fire…
The images started flipping through my mind at a dizzying speed, even with my sharp and quick vampire mind. Vampires tortured…wolves being hunted down almost to the point of extinction…humans hunted, tortured, murdered, or turned against their will…viscous behavior from vampires upon humans was condoned and even encouraged as some sick, demented way of proving vampire superiority…vampires forced into the Volturi's service after being given the choice of an existence of servitude or death…women, both vampire and human, raped and brutalized as punishment, as a message, or just because they could…
The images screamed at me in my mind, forcing me to see and experience exactly what the Volturi had accomplished during their reign of power, and the complete, and utter lack of remorse, or guilt. I was sickened and I did not hesitate a moment to make sure they got what was coming to them. They would be forced to experience our pain as their own. They would truly know what devastation they had caused on people's lives. I felt no pity. I felt no remorse. I thought that perhaps if I was a better person, I would feel remorse, but I was also a big believer in Karma. They got what was coming to them. The guilt I was sure would come, did not. I only felt the satisfaction of justice.
The memory of it was overwhelming me again, and I was barely aware of Jasper leading me into the forest. I pounced on the first animal I came across, a small fox, and quickly drained him of his blood. I followed Jasper, and found him feeding on a huge grizzly, nicely fattened up in preparation for winter. He looked up at me over the animal, his mouth never releasing its grip on the animal's neck, and he motioned for me to join him. Not once since my change, had we shared a kill. We'd hunted together and fed in close proximity to each other, but we had never shared.
I knelt down on the other side of the animal and then sank my teeth into the neck. My eyes never left my mate. It was a surprisingly sensual experience, and I could taste both the animal, and my mate on my tongue. We both let the animal drop when we had drained it of all its blood, and the emotional connection between us rose to a fevered pitch. Between my gift and his, our emotions and our auras mixing, we became one.
Jasper took my hand and we ran further into the woods until we couldn't resist the physical pull any longer. Jasper lifted me up and I wrapped my legs around him. Our lips crashed together, our utmost passion, love, and devotion wholly consuming us. Our hands caressed and explored, needing the physical affirmation that our mate was still there, that we were still whole. I couldn't seem to get enough physical contact with Jasper. Even when our clothes 'magically disappeared' and our bodies joined, we couldn't get close enough.
We continued to grasp at each other, desperate to feel each other. We sought out those places that drove each other wild; the spot by my hip that was always so sensitive, Jasper's earlobe, the flesh behind my knee, Jasper's collarbone… Our emotions were so strong as it was, but we started pushing our passion toward each other until we couldn't take any more. I reached out with my soul and touched Jasper's, and then our very souls joined. It was more than either of us could take and with one final thrust, we both cried out with the force of our release and screamed each others names.
We stayed wrapped up in each others arms for an infinite amount of time, shuddering with the impact of our union. It was like nothing else I had ever experienced, and I never wanted to let it go. I never wanted to let him go. I never wanted my soul parted from his,
"Darlin', there are no words to describe you. I love you more than anything. You are the most amazing, passionate woman, and I am the luckiest man on earth. You give me everything I want, and everything I need, and everything I didn't even know I could have. You consume my every thought. You taught me to love myself and you healed me in such a profound way, I never could have imagined possible. You have helped me feel like me again, and you accept me, and love me for everything I am. There is nothing in the world more beautiful than your smile, and I never want to let you go. I am so proud of you and so in awe of you," Jasper said quietly in my ear and I shivered.
"This isn't how I was planning on doing this, Sugar, but will you be my wife? I want you to have my name. I want you to wear my ring. I want to make love to you as my wife," Jasper growled as he nipped at my neck.
There are a lot of cute things I could think of to say, there were a lot of cheesy things I could think of to say, but there was only one word that mattered. "Yes."
We made love one more time under the stars. We were both reluctant to return to the group but eventually we did. We first ran to the house, where Rose had been thoughtful enough to leave some clothes at the edge of the tree-line so we could have a small feeling of modesty. I was not relishing the idea of running through the house naked, especially with the possibility of dozens of guests.
It turned out that most of our group were in the clearing. With so many people, we needed the space it provided. It was probably a good idea to have the discussions in the open air as well, as we all knew it could get heated. Marcus looked…at peace as he stood at the edge of a smoldering fire, poking the dying embers with a long stick. I could smell the pungent sweet smell of vampire in the smoke, and knew he'd made his decision as to the fate of his brothers.
I turned my attention to the crowd, and I wasn't surprised to see that the arguing had obviously started before we returned.
"So who do we put in charge then? You?" a former Volturi guard member named Godfrey asked Carlisle, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Perhaps a real vampire would be better suited to lead us," Samuel said with sarcasm as well. Samuel had been part of the 'mob' the Volturi had brought along, but had not participated in actual fighting. "A vampire that does not go against his nature to live off beasts of the forest."
"I am a real vampire," Godfrey said, puffing his chest out. "Perhaps I should lead."
"You? You are not even a hundred years old," Jason yelled out. He was another of the 'mob'.
Arguing broke out among the various vampires and things were getting heated when I finally got fed up.
"We have finally gotten rid of the ruling school-yard bullies, and now you all are acting like children. You are arguing about who is man enough to lead. Maybe this will be better to decide who to lead – by penis size? Better yet, why don't we have the women take over leadership? Perhaps something would actually be done right then," I yelled.
Some were looking contrite, and others looked like they were having a hard time not laughing, but my irritation level was so high I couldn't just let them continue like that. Nothing was getting accomplished.
"Y'all are hundreds of years old and you are acting live five year old children. Get over yourselves!" I huffed.
"She's right. Let us start acting our ages," Demetri said and finally the crowd settled down. Ideas were thrown around, and soon we had a basic framework for the new government.
Instead of having a group of leaders in one place, the world would be divided up into areas, with leaders appointed for each area. The areas would be subdivided if so desired. The leaders of each area would rule together, each responsible for their own territory, but all would answer to the other leaders as well. No one would be autonomous and there would be term limits. That would, hopefully, keep corruption in check. After a period of adjustment, the possibility of elections would be considered.
I was surprised at how fast my ideas of including others of the supernatural community in the new government were accepted. There was talk of the government we were developing becoming more of a supernatural government rather than just a vampire government. Both packs of wolves wanted and needed to decide amongst themselves if they wanted to be involved. The thing that took off pretty fast is that we were all just trying to live our lives, and we were only hurting each other by bickering and fighting amongst ourselves. The Quileute's became wolves to protect their tribe from predators, but as we discussed this openly as a group, not many liked feeding on anything other than criminals. It was interesting watching each side explain their viewpoints, and everyone else actually listening. There were wolves that looked close to tears hearing stories of vampires losing control, and they started understanding the self-hatred that many had for themselves, when overtaken by the bloodlust. The guilt that many had even when living off murderers and rapists surprised some of the wolves.
When one of the newer La Push wolves started growling at the story of a red-headed teenage girl recounting how she'd killed her little sister when she awoke as a newborn, I stared him down.
"What would you say to Emily then?" I asked him. "She and Sam, even after he has stopped phasing, have a permanent reminder of what can happen, even to those you love. Even though most of my scars were healed in my change, my scars from my boyfriend and best friend can still be seen. I still carry the marks to prove that even the 'protectors' lose control every once in a while. You know the phrase, 'We're only human'?" I asked. I got several chuckles from that.
"Obviously, the saying didn't quite fit in our case but the sentiment does. Humans, Werewolves, Shape-shifters, and Vampires alike…none of us are perfect. There are times that we are captive to our instincts. It is the way that we live our lives that define us. We do the best we can. There are evil people of all races, it is how we strive to live our lives that matters. We must work together if we want to live in peace, if we want to be free to simply live our lives. Can't we all just get along?" I asked, hoping to break up my emotional speech with some humor. I was pleased when I heard most of the group laughing with me.
Just like that, the tension between us was gone. We alternated between making plans and getting to know one another and learning to understand. Many of the former Guard had captivating stories of being forced or coerced to serve. We came together and we listened, we learned, and we understood. For many, it was the first time in a long time that they had hope.
The last couple days had been terribly stressful, but we'd all finally gotten some preliminary plans in place and had agreed on a date for an official meeting for making everything official. The New York pack had returned home and the vampires were starting to return to their homes as well.
This morning Jake had told me that the elderly tribal Shaman, Onawa, had asked me for a favor. I wasn't so sure about this whole thing. Being around humans was still very new and very scary to me.
"Are you sure she knows what I am?" I asked for third time.
"Of course she knows what you are, Bella. She is the Shaman. She is the one that got me to trust you. She said that she needs you today," Jake said.
"I'm still new at this, Jake," I said, trying to get out of this, but feeling bad at the same time.
"You said you did sensitization training with Carlisle," Jake pointed out.
"Yes, but it isn't perfect," I said, knowing I'd lost.
"She needs you, Bells," Jake insisted.
I ignored him, but instead started running toward our destination. Jake wasn't far behind me when I stopped at the tree line. I looked at the fenced yard of the home for battered women. The home was very private, but had a secure, homey feel, but I could still feel the depression, guilt and fear in the air. I saw Onawa the Shaman, who I'd met a couple times before, talking to a small group of women. She could be very cryptic and mystical at times, but she had a big heart. Seeing her now with my new eyes and with my new gift, I truly see her now. I felt privileged to be in her presence. She had a beautiful soul. I could feel now how similar her soul was to the wolves. When I finally embraced my gift, I found my perception of things had changed quite a bit. When I looked at the wolves, I could sometimes see their spirits in a wolf form. It would be impossible to clearly describe. When I looked at the Shaman, I could see the same thing. Her spirit self was an eagle. She was beautiful.
I got back to the task at hand, and realized that my gift was easy to use on humans. I closed my eyes and opened my senses. I could feel the darkness surrounding the home, as well as the light. They already had hope. That would make it easier. As Onawa's speech came to its climax, I lifted the pain, fear, anger, and darkness from them all at once and slowly lifted it away from them. The breeze blew through my hair and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickling.
I turned my head to the side and opened my eyes. There were two trucks coming up the road. The trucks' windows were open and the breeze carried the smell of the stale beer the men had been drinking. An abusive husband and father had come with some of his friends to take his family back. They were nothing more than possessions to him, but they were his and he would do with them as he pleased. The things he had done…he deserved his fate. As they threw the trucks into park down the road a ways, and started gathering their guns, the darkness of the man's victims, his family, began to descend on them. The pain was so much that they did not make a sound. They cowered on the ground in fear.
I knew that Jake's understanding of the world had changed a lot, and that mine had as well, when Jake made a quick phone call on his cell phone. We waited silently as five vampires arrived on the scene, nodded toward our hiding spot, and…took out the trash in a manner of speaking. They took the trucks away to be disposed of and that was that.
"I'm surprised at you, Jake," I said quietly as we walked at human speed back through the woods.
"I knew that man," he said quietly. "He was married to Sarah's sister. I know the things he's done. Their little boy, Zack, he's just six years old. He's told me things. That man…he needed to die," Jake said shaking his head.
"That makes me a bad person, doesn't it?" Jake asked, with a pained look on his face. I hadn't seen that vulnerability on his face in many years.
"No, Jake. That doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a realistic person. You are right. He needed to die. I made sure he knew what pain he'd caused before he died. Maybe I'm wrong, Jake. This gift can give me a skewed perspective, a God-complex, I suppose, but that man…he needed to die. He can't hurt anyone now, and five of my kind got the blood they need to sustain themselves. Perhaps this does make me a monster, Jake, but I just can't see it as being a bad thing," I explained quietly. I did feel guilt, some anyway. I didn't feel one ounce of regret, however.
"Maybe we are both monsters, but so was he," Jake said.
"I do," I said, and Jasper's blinding smile lit up the room. The red and orange sunrise behind him was almost ethereal.
"In front of God and these witnesses, I pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride," Eleazar said.
Jasper swept me off my feet, dipping me back and kissed me like I was the most precious thing in the world. I felt as though my chest would burst from happiness. We were back at our house in the mountains, the sun was just rising, gifting us with the most beautiful sunrise.
Emmett coughed loudly and our friends and family all started laughing. We finally broke apart. Jasper gently placed me back on my feet.
"There's plenty of time for that later, Lovebirds," Emmett laughed.
I looked around with love at our family and friends, friends who had fought with us in Forks and came to Canada to celebrate with us. Vampires, Werewolves, and Shape-shifters alike.
Half of them would be gone tomorrow. Carlisle and Esme had decided that they were going to help set up the new government. Neither wanted a permanent part in it, but they wanted and needed to do their civic duty. Carmen and Eleazar were planning on a more direct role in things. Garrett and Kate had not decided what they wanted to do long term, but would be there for the first Supernatural Summit. Marcus and Siobhan, who were close but not yet mated, were planning on being there as well, but wanted nothing to do with leadership itself. Many of our gathered friends were going with them, most just to support the others and to help where needed. Members of both packs of wolves were there for our wedding and they also were traveling to the summit. It made my heart swell to see those I loved coming together and working together for a greater goal.
We laughed and danced all day long. It made me appreciate my family all the more. I was home. I had so many that I loved, and so many that loved me. I would never again take for granted all that life had given me. Sure, life had taken a lot away, but I had been given so much more.
"Are you ready for the honeymoon, my wife?" Jasper whispered in my ear, his breath tickling me.
"I am always ready for you, my husband," I said. We quickly said our goodbyes and then Jasper took my hand in his and we ran toward our future together.
Thank you so much for all your reviews and support throughout this story. I truly appreciate each and every one of my readers. I hope you enjoyed the journey. Thank you for reading!
P.S. If any of you like the Sookie Stackhouse Novels or True Blood on HBO, check out my new AU story over there in a couple days. First chapter will be up Monday (June 14th). :-)