Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight.
EPILOGUE – TREATY
Soon, life returned to normal, almost as it had been before I walked away from Bella that afternoon in the woods. We had not walked that trail again.
My family resumed their previous lives in Forks. Carlisle was welcomed back to the hospital as though he had never been away. Esme returned to decorating our home and designing future projects. Rosalie and Emmett went back to being, well, Rosalie and Emmett. Jasper and Alice spent even more time with each other, even taking a quick trip alone to Alaska to re-connect after her trip to Italy to rescue me.
Emmett and Carlisle made a quick trip to Arizona to retrieve the Vanquish that I had left behind when I continued into Texas after Victoria.
Alice arranged to have our personal belonging shipped back to Forks from New York and it seemed as if no time had passed, although, at other times, it seemed like an excruciating amount of time had gone by – time I could never make up.
Alice and I resumed our previous studies, having already studied these subjects too many times to count over the decades. I played a good deal of catch-up and collected numerous applications for colleges in all the worst climates in the United Sates. I still planned on convincing Bella to wait longer, to at least go through college and I knew if I left the leg work up to her, she would avoid it all together.
Charlie was still angry at me and I could hardly blame him. I didn't argue with him. After all, he allowed me to visit Bella at their house and made sure I left promptly by 9:00 p.m. every night. I left long enough for Bella and Charlie to go through their normal nighttime routines then I went through mine – entering her room through the window she always left open for me. I would climb into the bed with her and hold her close and talk until she fell asleep. Then I would sit in the rocking chair and watch her chest rise and fall and relish how lucky I was to have the chance to see her breathe in and out every day.
That was all easy and comfortable. Then there was Jacob Black.
Apparently he had swooped right in to pick up the broken pieces I left behind when I left Bella. I hated that. I hated that there had been someone to take my place, someone that had protected her when I didn't. I was grateful that there was someone to do it, but despised the fact that it was one of them. A werewolf of all things. I refused to let Bella go anywhere near La Push since my family and I had long ago made a treaty with Jacob's ancestors to not cross the treaty line. I could not protect her there and when she was in the company of unpredictable werewolves that is precisely what she needed, my protection. So the easiest solution was to make her promise to stay on our side of the treaty line.
And Jacob Black never came to Bella. I had to give him credit for honoring that part of the treaty. Or perhaps he was fearful of being torn to pieces by me if I even thought he was a danger to Bella. Either way, she was with me and not with him. I just had to work to replace whatever memories they had made together while I was off on my fruitless hunt for Victoria.
Bella had told me how Laurent had come to her in the meadow, ready to kill her when Jacob and his pack rescued her, killing Victoria's henchman. I had to be grateful for that as well. I hated like hell that I had to be grateful to him or to them for anything, but I was. I was grateful they kept her safe, so she could save me and give me a second chance at forever. Then again, that was what Bella had been doing since the day she walked in to my life, saving me.
We had worked back into a groove, Bella and I, but I knew there was something different and it was Jacob. She did her best to avoid discussing him with me or near me, but I knew she missed him. As much as I hated to admit it, I realized he had become a part of her. She was stronger than when I left her and that was because of Jacob.
Part of my new routine was picking Bella up from her job at Newton's on the days she worked. It was a little extra time I got with her outside of the prison Charlie had turned their house into.
Several weeks after we returned from Italy, after Jacob had gone into exile, Bella came out of work walking swiftly to the Volvo, ears fire red. I knew she was angry about something when she opened the door and threw her backpack into the back seat of the Volvo like it was a baseball.
"It's just plain rude!" she yelled, slamming the door closed as she sank into the passenger seat. "Downright insulting!"
I knew better than to say a word. I just patted her on the leg, kissed her cheek and listened. I don't even think she noticed I had kissed her. I slowly pulled out of the parking lot, turning left towards Bella's house.
"Billy said he didn't want to talk to me," she fumed, staring intently out the passenger window, looking past the rain that streamed down the windows. "That he was there, and wouldn't walk three steps to get to the phone! Usually Billy just says he's out or busy or sleeping or something. I mean, it's not like I didn't know he was lying to me, but at least it was a polite way to handle it. I guess Billy hates me now, too. It's not fair!"
I decided to interject, in hopes of calming her. As much as liked that Jacob was no longer a part of her life, I wasn't happy that it was making her feel this way.
"It's not you, Bella," I said softly, laying my hand on her neck. "Nobody hates you."
"Feels that way," she muttered, crossing her arms across her chest, pouting.
"Jacob knows we're back, and I'm sure that he's ascertained that I'm with you," I explained. "He won't come anywhere near me. The enmity is rooted too deeply."
"That's stupid. He knows you're not…like other vampires."
She knew that was not a valid argument in my book. We were all seemingly harmless vampires, but Jasper had been a very real threat to Bella in the not so distant past.
"There's still good reason to keep a safe distance," I said.
She didn't say a word and continued to glare out the windshield into the rain covered streets of Forks.
"Bella, we are what we are," I said in the same soft, even tone I had used since she got in the car. I needed to calm her, to reassure her that no matter where Jacob Black was or wasn't, I was here now and I was not going anywhere. "I can control myself, but I doubt he can. He's very young. It would most likely turn into a fight, and I don't know if I could stop it before I k-," I stopped before the harsh reality of what I was thinking took the form of a word I knew she couldn't bear to hear. "Before I hurt him. You would be unhappy. I don't want that to happen."
She paused for a moment and I knew she was absorbing what I had said and what I hadn't said.
"Edward Cullen," she turned to me with a grimace and looked at me through squinted eyes. "Were you about to say killed him? Were you?"
I purposely looked forward at the stop light, avoiding making eye contact with her. I had so much difficulty lying to her, even when it was to protect her.
"I would try…very hard…not to do that," I finally admitted.
I had turned the corner and paused at the stop sign, never turning to look at Bella, although I could see her mouth hanging open from the corner of my eye.
"Well," she closed her mouth to say, taking a deep breath, shaking her head as if to make the reality of what I said disappear. "Nothing like that is ever going to happen, so there's no reason to worry about it. And you know Charlie's staring at the clock right now. You'd better get me home before I get in more trouble for being late."
She turned slightly towards me and smiled, half-heartedly.
I saw the pain in her eyes, no matter how she tried to hide it. I wished, for her sake, that it was different. But it wasn't and it never would be. There was Jacob's world and there was my world. Unfortunately, Bella's world was smack dab in the middle of the two and both Jacob and I were trying to live lived in that world.
As I turned up the street to Bella's house I knew Charlie was mad about something new.
"You're already in more trouble, Bella," I whispered, slowly making my way down her street.
Bella moved closer to me, wrapping her arms around mine.
"What? What is it?" she asked with a shaky voice, looking around for the unknown cause to my warning.
I took a deep breath to prepare myself for the inevitable. "Charlie…"
"My dad?" she screeched in my ear.
I calmly looked down at her, hoping she would relax, which she did.
I drove past her house and parked by the trees that surrounded it.
"What did I do?" she gasped.
I turned to glance over my shoulder, back towards Charlie. There in the driveway sat a shiny red motorcycle. I knew based on his anger, he had not seen the death machine before. The only way he would know about the motorcycles was from Jacob. Bella got her wish. He was here, but he was playing dirty.
"Charlie is ready to kill you Bella," I said. "Jacob told him about the motorcycle and about the risks you took. He thinks he can't trust you, even though you have done nothing to make him distrust you since we got back from Italy."
"No!" she gasped, hand over her mouth. "Why? Why would Jacob do this to me?"
While I hated that she had more punishment coming her way and that she was betrayed, I quite enjoyed envisioning Jacob Black falling from the high pedestal on which she had placed him.
Her breathing quickened as panic sat in. Her eyes grew wide and she looked quickly, back and forth, at nothing, trying to grasp what this meant. I clasped my hand in hers, hoping that knowing I was by her side would calm her. Tears began to stream from her eyes and I knew they were angry tears, the worst tears that could ever fall.
"Is he still here?" she hissed.
"Yes. He's waiting for us there," I said, nodding my head towards the narrow path we had avoided since I had returned.
She jerked her hand from mine and swung the passenger door open, jumping out of the car at an almost superhuman speed. I quickly exited from my side and made my way to her, to hold her back. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and Bella was hell on wheels.
"Let me go! I'm going to murder him! Traitor!" she shouted, fully aware that Jacob could hear her.
"Charlie will hear you," I warned her. The last thing she needed was to get Charlie in on this. Right now he was far more likely to defend Bella's greatest betrayer. "And once he gets you inside, he may brick over the doorway."
Bella shot a glance at the house and seemed angrier and resigned to make Jacob pay for his transgression when she saw the motorcycle sitting in the driveway, a glaring reminder of the chances she had taken.
"Just give me one round with Jacob, and then I'll deal with Charlie." She struggled against my grasp around her waist, pulling towards the woods.
"Jacob Black wants to see me. That's why he's still here," I told her.
She stopped in her tracks, no more struggling. She looked at me in confusion.
"Talk?" she asked.
I could tell by the tone in her voice she had her doubts as to how much talking would be done.
"More or less," I said. I couldn't promise we would not come to blows, but I would do my best to spare her such a display.
I reached for her hair and smoothed the errant strands that had covered her face in her rage. "Don't worry, he's not here to fight me. He's acting as…spokesperson for the pack."
"Oh," she said quietly.
I turned to look at the house again, to make sure Charlie hadn't heard Bella's tirade or seen us. When I was sure we were in the clear, I wrapped my arms more tightly around her waist and pulled her into the woods, keeping her close at my side. "We should hurry. Charlie's getting impatient."
It only took a few steps into the canopy to see Jacob, leaning casually against a moss covered tree trunk, sneering at me. He had no idea that his effort to hurt me only managed to push Bella away from him.
I stopped the moment I saw him and planted my feet firmly into the soft earth, moving Bella just behind my back to protect her if he became unstable. However, she was defiant, shooting him an accusatory glare around me.
"Bella," Jacob said casually in Bella's direction, completely disregarding my presence.
"Why?" she whispered, fighting back the angry tears she had managed to contain. "How could you do this to me Jacob?"
She will forgive me later, when I can see her and explain. This is the only way I can get her away from the bloodsuckers that never leave her side.
Her words cut at him and the arrogant smile on his face disappeared although he remained as defiant as Bella.
"It's for the best," he answered.
"What is that supposed to mean? Do you want Charlie to strangle me? Or did you want him to have a heart attack, like Harry? No matter how mad you are at me, how could you do that to him?"
Boy is she mad. I wish she understood I wasn't trying to hurt anyone. This was the only leverage I had to get what I wanted, her – alone. I have to tell her what will happen if she stays with him.
I could have kept my mouth shut and let him continue to dig his own grave. He was doing a fine job. I hated that Bella was hurting, but I quite enjoyed that he would as well.
Filthy bloodsucker. My life was going fine until Alice came back to Forks.
His eyebrows furrowed. Her words stung. I could see it in his eyes even though he was making quite an effort to hide that from her.
"He didn't want to hurt anyone – he just wanted to get you grounded, so that you wouldn't be allowed to spend time with me," I explained to Bella what he was keeping a secret.
How are you doing that?
I shot him a cocky grin, hoping Bella wouldn't catch it. I may not be able to hear her thoughts, but his were an open book. He could not keep any secrets from her when I was around.
"Aw, Jake!" she groaned, stomping her foot in the dirt. "I'm already grounded! Why do you think I haven't been down to La Push to kick your butt for avoiding my phone calls?"
What? I thought the bloodsucker was keeping her from me?
Jacob shot me a quick glance and back at Bella. He seemed stunned to know why she had not run to see him. The truth was, if she wasn't grounded I wouldn't let her go near La Push, but for now, that was on Charlie.
"That's why?" he asked, locking his jaw. I saw instant regret in his face. He regretted going to such extreme measures to get her attention. What a stupid boy.
"He thought I wouldn't let you, not Charlie," I added.
"Stop that," Jacob snapped at me.
I didn't have to say another word. He began to shudder. He was having great difficulty controlling his emotions and soon he would change into the monster he had become and Bella would see it, from a safe distance behind me.
"Bella wasn't exaggerating about your…abilities," he managed to say through his gritted teeth. "So you must already know why I am here."
"Yes," I said softly. There was no need for me to raise my voice. They both heard me. "But, before you begin, I need to say something."
Jacob began to take slow deep breaths, clenching and unclenching his fists, trying to control the change that had begun.
"Thank you," I said in all sincerity. I knew I was the bigger man, but I also realized he didn't have to stand there and listen to one word out of my mouth. "I will never be able to tell you how grateful I am. I will owe you for the rest of my…existence."
Jacob and Bella looked at each other, dumbfounded by what I had said. Perhaps they both truly believed that all I wanted was to kill him. I owed him a great deal and for that reason, I would not kill him. However, I would make sure Bella was never alone with him.
Are you serious?
"For keeping Bella alive," I clarified. "When I…didn't."
I was man enough to admit where I had failed and that was precisely what I was doing.
"Edward -," Bella started. I kept my eyes on Jacob. What I had to say was more for his benefit than anything else. I owed him and I owed her that much.
"I didn't do it for your benefit," Jacob said proudly, shooting me an accusatory glare.
"I know. But that doesn't erase the gratitude I feel. I thought you should know. If there's ever anything in my power to do for you…"
Yeah. Walk away like you did before. Except this time, don't come back.
I understood his pain, but his wish would not be granted by me. "That's not in my power."
"Whose, then?" Jacob growled.
I looked down at Bella. I had made her a promise. I would not leave her for as long as she wanted me around. I meant it. I had failed her once and I would not do it again. I would not leave her side until she ordered me away.
"Her's. I'm a quick learner, Jacob Black, and I don't make the same mistake twice. I'm here until she orders me away."
Jacob and I locked eyes, both of us asserting our emotional position in the matter. Bella looked at us both and seemed to realize what it was he was asking of me.
"Never," she whispered to Jacob, staring deep into my eyes, understanding my commitment to her was real and one I took seriously.
Jacob made a childish gagging sound which didn't help his cause. Bella turned her attention back to him, while taking my hand in hers.
"Was there something else you needed, Jacob? You wanted me in trouble – mission accomplished. Charlie might just send me to a military school. But that won't keep me away from Edward. There's nothing that can do that. What more do you want?"
I squeezed her hand tighter and smiled without control of it. I knew right then that her commitment to me was as strong as mine to her. She didn't just want eternity. She wanted to be with me for an eternity.
I want her and I won't stop until she realizes how bad you are for her.
He then said what he had come to say, out loud, for Bella to hear.
"I just needed to remind your bloodsucking friends of a few key points in the treaty they agreed to. The treaty that is the only thing stopping me from ripping his throat out right this minute."
He had to put on a show, to put on a display of his masculinity and his ability to fight off all the evil-doers. I was more amused than anything. I had about 90 years experience on him.
"We haven't forgotten," I said just as Bella asked "What key points?"
Jacob glared at me, but answered Bella instead. "The treaty is quite specific. If any of them bite a human, the truce is over. Bite, not kill," he emphasized. I looked at him directly in his eyes, acknowledging what he was saying. However, I didn't fear him or anyone in his pack. The only thing keeping me from destroying him at that moment was Bella. He was like a pet of hers and I couldn't take that from her.
Within seconds, the color disappeared from Bella's face and she became weak in my grasp.
"That's none of your business," she sternly told him.
It is completely my business. I will not stand for this.
He was losing control.
Jacob had no idea that she had already made her choice and laid out her plan to take it to fruition. The harsh reality was too much for him to bear.
"Jake? You okay?" Bella asked, reaching towards him as I held on tight to her, jerking her back safely behind me. No matter how much he wanted to protect her, he had not lived this life long enough to be able to control his behavior. His body shook and his face became contorted as he struggled to keep from changing.
"Careful! He's not under control," I warned Bella. Now she could see just how dangerous he was to her.
"Ugh. I would never hurt her," he said in exasperation; now back in control of his body.
I knew exactly what point he was trying to make – that I had hurt Bella so profoundly when I left her. He had no idea that I would sacrifice everything I ever had or ever could have to protect her. I doubted he would be so sacrificial.
"BELLA!" Charlie's voice echoed from the front of the house. "YOU GET IN THIS HOUSE THIS INSTANT!"
Lucky you, Edward. Charlie has come to your rescue.
I didn't acknowledge his snarky thoughts. It would only serve to bring me down to his level and Bella didn't need to know how low that was.
"Crap," she fumed.
"I am sorry about that," Jacob muttered, half-heartedly. "I had to do what I could – I had to try…"
And I will continue to try until I get her back.
"Thanks," she responded with sarcasm.
"Just one more thing," I added to Bella, looking at Jacob to make sure he understood what I was about to say. "We've found no trace of Victoria on our side of the line – have you?"
He didn't have to answer me. As soon as I asked the question I could hear his answer, but he was man enough to have this conversation with me out in the open.
"The last time was while Bella was…away. We let her think she was slipping through – we were tightening the circle, getting ready to ambush her -."
Bella shivered from head to toe, her body shaking against my grasp.
"But then she took off like a bat out of hell. Near as we can tell, she caught your little female's scent and bailed. She hasn't come near our lands since."
I nodded and reassured them both. "When she comes back, she's not your problem anymore. We'll - ."
"She killed on our turf," Jacob growled. "She's ours!"
"No-," Bella protested to us both.
"BELLA! I SEE HIS CAR AND I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE! IF YOU AREN'T INSIDE THIS HOUSE IN ONE MINUTE…!" Charlie didn't finish his threat. By now he didn't have to. Bella knew his limits and so did I and we were pushing them.
"Let's go," I encouraged her, pulling her back towards the trail head.
She turned and looked back towards Jacob. Her feet moved with mine, but her body pulled towards him.
"Sorry," Jacob whispered. "Bye, Bells."
"You promised," she pleaded. "Still friends, right?"
I looked over my shoulder and saw him shake his head slowly. He loved her. Nothing that was said today changed that. He was putting on a brave front for her.
I promised I would never leave her like you did. You are making me break that promise to her. I hate you for that.
"You know how hard I've tried to keep that promise, but…I can't see how to keep trying. Not now…" I could tell he was choking back tears. "Miss you," he mouthed to her.
He reached his hand out for hers and she reached for his, but the distance between them was too great.
"Me too," she said, choking back her own tears – tears of sadness, not anger. For that I was sad. I didn't want to see Bella hurt, even if it meant I had to tolerate his presence.
"Jake," she gasped, lunging her body towards him. I held on to her, keeping her from going to him.
"It's okay," she reassured me. How could I keep her from going to him? After all, it was her choice and it always would be. If she wanted to stay with me, she would. If she wanted to go to him, she would. She had free will and I had to respect that. I hoped that the love we had for one another would be enough for her to choose me.
"No, it's not," I said softly. I knew she cared for him. I knew he was a real threat to me. I refused to let go of her. For all I knew, Jacob would run off into the woods with her.
"Let her go," Jacob snarled at me. "She wants to!" He took two large strides towards me, ready for battle. I pushed Bella behind me, ready to strike him where he stood.
"No! Edward -!"
"ISABELLA SWAN!" Charlie screamed.
"Come on! Charlie's mad!" Bella pleaded, pulling on my arm. "Hurry!"
I relaxed just a little and moved back towards the tree line with her, keeping my eyes on Jacob the entire time. I would never trust him enough to turn my back on him.
I wrapped my arm around Bella's waist and walked through the woods towards the house. She never took her eyes off of Jacob either, although I knew her reasons were very different from my own.
As we stepped from the forest, Jacob disappeared from my line of sight and I knew Bella couldn't see him anymore either. She turned her attention towards Charlie, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the house, his face red and seething with anger.
I squeezed her a little tighter to remind her that whatever punishment lay ahead I was there to take it along with her. "I'm here."
She took a deep breath and walked, arm in arm with me to face her fate – our fate.
Final Author's Note: Black Moon
This journey with Edward has been dark and emotional for me to write, for Missy (DreamsOfEdward) to bounce off of and for Lili (ForksPixie) to beta and guide me through. I know it has been an emotional journey for each of you to read and for those of you who have patiently waited for this to end, Edward is finally reunited with his Bella and the next leg of the journey is about to begin.
I have read every single review and message regarding Black Moon and, good or bad, they all matter to me. You all love Edward as much as I do or you wouldn't care to share your thoughts.
Writing Black Moon took me much longer than I ever anticipated, but it was emotionally taxing at times and I had to step away. I had to take a road trip to Forks, which I hope makes Edward's journey through Shroud (Eclipse) much more tangible to the reader. Real Life also got in the way. I went back to work and had to make time for Edward. Most importantly, my muse, Missy and my Beta, Lili had major upheaval in their real lives, but they stuck with me and stuck with Edward and made this possible. I promise you there were times I could have given up, but they never let me.
I hope you appreciate Edward on a much deeper level now and understand the place of love he came from when he left Bella. Now on to Shroud, which I hope you will find a much happier place for Edward and Bella.