Carlisle stepped toward the black horde of vampires boldly, yet humbly. His soft amber eyes glistened bravely in response to the mass of the shining, cloudy-red eyes in front of him. He spread his arms wide in greeting and submission.
"Aro, my old friend. It's been centuries." He said, his face hardening slightly at his own words.
The snow fell lightly to the ground. I could see each delicate flake as it sparkled and drifted on the light breeze, only to land with the others and dissappear.
In my arms, Renesme curled into my chest as if she was cold. I could tell she was afraid. I rocked her lightly until she relaxed a bit.
I watched Edward out of the corner of my eye. His stress amplified my own. I quickly brought my attention back to the horde as they began to move. Aro stepped forward, Renata, his protector, his shield, slank after him, her hand very lightly touching his back.
"Bella," Edward whispered.
I looked at him.
"Can you shield Carlisle?" He asked. Though he was whispering, I could hear the anxiousness lacing his voice.
"Peace," Aro told his guards as they crouched to fight. They straightened back up, and Aro moved closer.
I glanced back at Carlisle. He was so far...
"I...I don't know, I-"
"Try, Bella." He pleaded. He stared at the vampires, the lines in his face tight with worry.
Renesme turned her head to stare up at me, her milky brown eyes wide and wet.
I concentrated on my shield, tried to feel the elastic strands. I shivered slightly as I forced myself to imagine Renesme standing in Carlisle's place. I tried to imagine when I shielded her from Kate's sting. It had been so instinctual, but this...
Aro, the leader of the Volturi, cocked his head to the side. "Fair words, Carlisle," he sighed with amusement. "They seem out of place, considering the army you've assembled to kill me, and to kill my dear ones."
Carlisle shook his head innocently and held out his right hand, though he was still quite far from Aro. "You have but to touch my hand to know that was never my intent."
Behind him, Renata stuck her head around Aro's back and bared her teeth at Carlisle. Aro tilted his head to her and muttered something quietly. She bowed her head like a dog and retreated back to his shadow. Aro almost smiled at Carlisle.
"When should I do it?" I whispered quickly to Edward.
"Can you?" He demanded, cutting his eyes hopefully at me.
"I'm not sure, it's so much further than-"
"After Aro finishes reading him." Edward interupted in a hiss.
I nodded slightly, dread filling my stomach. So this is it, I thought. As soon as they realize he's being protected, they're going to come after me. But what if I can't do it? What then? I didn't want to think about it.
Beside me, Jacob let out a soft purring sound. I looked at him and saw he was staring at Renesme.
"Let us find out what your true intent was, then." Aro suggested cheerfully, waving a hand at Carlisle, gesturing for him to come forward.
Carlisle steeled himself for half a second before walking slowly, deliberately, towards Aro.
Tensions were high. I felt like I should be able to see it shimmering in the air, red with anger and black with hate. All I could see in the air, however, was the fuzzy little snowflakes ever-falling to the ground.
"Remember what I told you?" I whispered to Renesme.
She nodded silently, a fierceness beyond her years pouring out of her eyes.
"I love you," I told her.
"I love you, too, Mommy." She whimpered.
I kissed her on the forhead before stepping over to Jacob and placing her in the soft nest of fur between his shoulders.
"Run as soon as there's a distraction. Look in Renesme's bag when you get somewhere safe. Don't stop running until you're sure." I told Jacob firmly, staring into his huge black eye.
"I love you, Jake." I felt like my voice should have cracked, like I should have been over-flowing with tears. Yet my words were like a song, flowing gracefully into his ears. He nodded shortly, and let out a barely audiable whine.
I turned away quickly and stood back beside Edward. I noticed he was staring at me.
"To save Nessie." I told him bitterly.
"Alice?" He asked dryly.
I nodded. His jaw set with a muffled crunching sound, and we both looked back at Aro and Carlisle.
Aro waited patiently for Carlisle to get close enough to him before holding out his hand. Carlisle stepped up and offered his hand again. Aro took it and caressed Carlisle's hand with both of his own. Aro's cloudy-red eyes grew wide as all of Carlisle's knowledge and memories washed into his mind.
"Ahh," Aro exclaimed softly. A smile played at the corners of his mouth. Carlisle stood silently, eyes closed.
Edward twitched noticably as he heard Aro's thoughts. His face was grim, his eyes hard.
"Be ready, Bella." He growled under his breath.
Aro's hands released Carlisle at last. Carlisle opened his eyes.
"Do you see, now, Aro?" Carlisle asked with a hint of disgust. "The immortal child you came to destroy is merely-"
"Yes, I saw, Carlisle. I saw what she was." Aro interupted harshly. "Jane," Aro said suddenly.
Carlisle stiffened as Jane flashed to Aro's side.
"Master?" She said tonelessly, staring at Carlisle coldly.
"Now, Bella." Edward hissed.
My mind was exausted, but I tried to throw my shield out to Carlisle. The elastic wave flexed weakly and snapped back around me. Panic began to set in as I saw the evil look in Jane's eyes.
"I can't," I whimpered.
Aro smiled slightly and raised his arms. "Friends and witnesses," He addressed everyone, winking at Carlisle. "This coven has broken the laws of nature and instictual right, by creating a monster by breeding a human and a vampire, also by joining forces with half-human half-wolf creatures, whose only purpose is to anihillate the whole vampire race." His red gaze swept across the clearing to our side and to his. "Now, the child they conceived is not an immortal child, but as a young vampire it is still dangerous, no matter how quickly it grows. Children are naive and cannot be trained properly to keep secrets. The wolves are another matter. Bred for the destruction of vampires, their only desire is to kill us. Yet...they side with the Cullens for one of them has become attached to the infant. How much longer until their lush for blood drives them to attack us? I say, it is an abbomination to let either of them live."
A chorus of snarls and hisses of agreement broke out in the black horde, while a ripple of terror spread through our side. Caius smiled from among his guards, his red eyes glowing wickedly.
"Bella..." Edward pleaded helplessly.
My shield no longer felt like it was protecting me. I struggled mentally agaist it, trying to get it away, trying to shield Carlisle. I stretched it forward, and shoved it, forcing it to go where I wanted. It reached across the field, covering everyone but Carlisle. I pushed harder, begging it to stretch just a little more. Suddenly, it snapped back into me. I gasped.
"Aro, please," Carlisle stepped forward. "If you could just-"
"Jane." Aro interupted.
"No!" Esme cried out.
"Pain." Jane said immediately.
Carlisle's mouth ground shut and his knees buckled. He fell to the ground at Aro's feet, writhing and moaning in anguish.
Edward snarled and charged forward.
"Edward!" I busted out and tried to grab him, but it was too late.
I thought Emmett and Rosalie and Emse would have tried to stop him, yet they ran forward beside him. Suddenly, everyone realized that this was it.
I couldn't breathe. Then I realized I didn't have to. "Go Jake!" I whirled on Jacob, my eyes full of burning tears.
Jacob howled mournfully, then turned and charged into the forrest behind us. The wolves, Seth, Leah, Sam, and all the others, stared at the black vampire horde with determined black eyes and sprang forward as one to attack and to die.
Desperately, I tried to throw my shield again. Then, miserably, I knew I couldn't do it.
I had to get Alec and Jane, I remembered. That was it. Then I could die. But not until then.
Only seconds had passed, and mere seconds remained, until Edward's claws raked against Aro's neck.
Aro smiled and Edward's eyes widened as he realized his mistake. Renata's shield on Aro caused Edward to jerk to the side, missing Aro completely. He took a couple hesitant steps, blinking and shaking his head. Aro vanished back into his guards, Renata with him. Jane's eyes locked onto Edward. An instant later, Edward was buried in the snow, thrashing in pain and struggling to get out of it. Emmett, Esme and Rosalie were there in another instant, but so was Alec. Carlisle stood up shakily, and attempted to stop Alec, but he was too slow.
A mist flew from Alec like a sudden wind storm, spreading all across the clearing. Blinded, disoriented, terrified, Emmett, Esme and Rosalie skidded to a halt. Carlisle and Edward froze where they stood, eyes wide and unseeing. All around me, the vampires became affected by the mist and began hobbling nervously in circles, unable to feel or hear or see. The wolves began whimpering and growling as numbness and deafness overcame them, and they stopped running and began sniffing the air furiously, but in vain.
Everyone but me was blind and helpless.
"Stop it!" I shouted, balling my hands into fists. You know what Alec did? He laughed. Jane stood beside Alec, her flashing her white teeth as her grinned. Caius and Aro stared at me with pleased expressions. They wanted me, I could tell. Around them, the guards crouched, ready to surge forward and destroy the dazed, defenseless vampires.
The Volturi were toying with me. They weren't attacking, yet. They wanted to see what I would do... they knew they had an easy victory in sight. Fear and hatred and misery overwhelmed me. It felt like my insides were quivering, yet my body was still as stone. Blood lust filled my red eyes. How dare they mock my family that way! Revenge, revenge, revenge! I let out a vicious snarl and rushed forward. I was going to die, I was sure. But that didn't matter. My fault, my sacrifice. But Alec had to go first.