Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created this little world I like to play in.
He pleased God and was translated
That he may give repentance.
Book of Ecclesiastes – The Sirach 44:16
The night had been horrendous. Being surrounded by Edward's personal effects as well as the many things we had collected together in our sixteen years of marriage hadn't made the ache ease a whit, the scent of him on our bed and on his pillows driving me half mad with anxiety and fear. I had to clasp my arms across my chest then, as I lay on the bed, to keep myself from falling apart. That I'd wrapped myself in one of Edward's button-down dress shirts did not help ease my pain, but the feel of the soft cotton material across my skin felt almost like his caresses. It was the only comfort I could find as memories of our last night together ran through my mind. Heated remembrances of caresses and kisses, his body over mine, his strength, the feeling of fullness and fulfillment. His hands encouraging me, making me act out my desires. The cries of ecstasy, of desire, of need, of want…
I had to close my eyes and shake myself mentally to keep from falling over the precipice… The feelings were just too painful.
Nor was the memory of the next morning any better. I'd watched him through the rear view mirror as I drove away, going to meet Charlie. The look on his face had been so clear… so full of love and adoration. His goofy grin, and the sun glinting in his hair. I'd been reminded in that moment just how much I loved him, how amazingly beautiful he was to me, inside and out. When he'd raised his hand at me in a sign of farewell, it had seemed so simple, so carefree. An "until I see you tonight" gesture.
But didn't you feel the unexplainable need to turn around…a voice whispered.
I had, but it had seemed silly. If I'd only known…
So as the night gradually gave way to dawn with the sky growing light, I lay on my stomach, staring at the pictures of us from the wedding…and from after I'd been turned. It wasn't as if I couldn't perfectly recall them in my memories…but there was at least something about holding the images of our happiness in my hands that reinforced my bond with Edward; it would never break, not even with his memory loss or death, heaven forbid.
As I slowly turned the pages in the album before me, resting my eyes on each photograph, the silence in my immediate vicinity seemed oppressive, even if I'd desired it. Aden had chosen to be my shadow, but I'd showed my fangs…figuratively… and hissed sharply at him the previous evening as he trailed me to the doors of the suite I had with Edward. I knew Aden and the others were still there, in the hall outside my door maintaining a discreet guard, because I could hear the occasional unnecessary shuffle of their feet. But I wanted some alone time; the guard had been following me around like I was a lunatic about to explode.
Well…I had to admit it felt that way, so maybe they were right in their fears. I could not stop thinking about Edward even for a portion of a second, and I suddenly wondered what he must be doing at this very moment.
He'd forgotten me… I tried not to sob and failed. The feet shuffled awkwardly at the sound.
It was clear from how Emmett had acted during the experiment, that Edward would have no clue who I was…or that I even existed…other than in his subconscious mind. Yes, my husband probably wouldn't let Lilith touch him, if Emmett's rejection of all but Rosalie was any indication, but this thought gave me no solace. But the woman would likely not let his reluctance dissuade her advances.
I growled low in my throat at the thought. I did not want Edward to have his marriage vows desecrated by the evil woman! Echoing growls came from the hallway, and I heard Aden's whispered, "Isabella?"
"I'm…okay," I said just as softly, regretting my outburst almost immediately. My friends and family were only worried about me, cared about me. I didn't want them to worry so. I had to present a strong façade for the family. I had to keep in control of myself. I wanted them to focus their energies on making our plan to get Edward back successful.
But my situation made it easy to lose control. It was the perfect example of being between a rock and a hard place. I didn't want her touching him, but on the other hand, I wanted him to survive long enough for us to rescue him. Dear God…he was going to be his own worst enemy when we got him back. For I refused to think otherwise.
And the waiting…it was killing me. Each second slid by ever so slowly even as I turned the pages of the photo album before me. Every second seemed like a shrieking voice in my head telling me that we were wasting time. But I knew that Jasper, as soon as he had worked out a game plan for Edward's recovery, would have us leaving as soon as vampirely possible. I had to trust him, as Edward always had.
Except for your birthday, a voice snarked.
Clenching my hands in my hair, I tried to keep from screaming. I felt like I was being driven slowly insane from the worry, the grief, the pain, and my mind going in a thousand different paths.
Moving from the bed in frustration, I walked to the balcony and pushed open the double doors, letting the cool night wind rush in around me, calming me temporarily. Leaning back against the rough stones of the castle walls, I looked to the horizon. And as I saw the dawn begin to appear, greeting the new day with bright colors, I prayed that at least such a glorious beginning to the new day heralded what we needed….recruits, Eleazar back from the Vatican…and some hope.
"Hyun Su!" Carlisle said in great surprise seeing the Asian leader stride into the throne room with ten of his most seasoned warriors.
We were all astounded really, never expecting any of the council members to align their fates with ours. We had met this morning to begin our planning, only to have this auspicious interruption. Sending troops? Yes? We had half- hoped for this. But to personally put themselves in harm's way for us? It was an unexpected turn of events. I was very surprised, particularly as I did not think that the coven leader owed us his allegiance, that he would consider only his own interests as most of our kind did. The black-haired man didn't stop until he clasped arms with Carlisle, then each and every member of our family and friends, before stopping before me.
"My lady," he bowed in front of me elegantly.
"Why?" I barely breathed out, my thoughts scattering in amazement.
"Why not? It will be a good fight, right my friend, Emmett?" Deviltry twinkled in the red eyes of the vampire leader in front of me.
My newly recovered brother grinned in delight before striking his fist into his hand. "The best."
"Naresh and his coven shouldn't be far behind," Hyun Su announced, rendering us speechless.
Siobhan looked as equally happy and confused. "Well…well…not so content to sit back as I expected," she muttered, but her tone was definitely pleased.
"I don't know if Charles is coming, or just sending a contingent of warriors. They will arrive on the morrow, either way." Hyun Su bowed slowly again before me before turning. "Jasper?" Hyun Su nodded, waving his men toward my brother.
I couldn't say whose grin was larger, Jasper's or several of the men who'd fought with him before. Even Aden grinned at the camaraderie that suddenly filled the room.
Well, I had asked for it.
Our hope was compounded, not more than an hour later, when Naresh joined us, rendering his troops up to Jasper's expertise as well. Peter's call to tell Jasper that he and Charlotte would arrive by the next morning interrupted the welcome.
But not all that Naresh brought was positive. "Isabella…I received a report from neighboring covens in Africa…"
He hesitated for a moment, glancing to Jasper before returning his eyes to me. His look should have scared me, but after seeing how Emmett had reacted, I knew to expect anything. "Edward obliterated a coven, and Lilith left one to suffer as witness as they walked away. From what I heard, the survivor said that Edward ripped all three of the man's coven-mates to pieces appallingly quickly." I nodded sharply in acceptance. "Knowing some of the vampires in that region of North Africa, I suspect they were the aggressors keeping a claim on their city," he conceded. Naresh drew his brows together; he was plainly worried about Edward's extraordinary skills.
Yes, that would be my thoughts exactly.
"Thank you for letting me know that my husband is okay. I'll take this as good news."
"Good, because I did," Naresh nodded. "You are wise, young one. Do not allow yourself to believe you aren't worthy of all that we've expected of you. You are stronger than you think." With those "wise" words, he ghosted away, to have a word with our other allies.
Edward…I wish you could see the individuals who are ready to stand in defense of you. You, who for so long felt so unworthy. The thought made my eyes burn with unshed venom, and I balled my fists into my eye sockets, rubbing as if the action would relieve the sting.
I turned to see Carlisle's golden eyes assessing me, and I attempted hard to smile. I was certain that my expression was half-hearted, but it was an attempt nevertheless.
I was hanging on to the hope that the new additions had brought us. The former throne room was packed with immortals willing to fight with us. My family, the guard members who had become more family than friend, our extended families in Tanya's coven and Siobhan's. Zafrina, who'd encouraged me to dream, and her statuesque companions. Even Nahuel's sisters stood amidst us. Jasper had assessed that their loyalty was with us, even if I didn't hold much faith that it would last.
A kaleidoscope of colors, temperaments, gifts, talents, brute strength, and delicateness. But together we were strong.
We all heard the door open out in the hallway, and Felipe's hushed gasp, then the sound of Carmen's soft voice.
They were back!
For our initial research, Eleazar had done exactly what Henry had suggested, going to the local cathedral, but we'd needed more, so Eleazar and Carmen had fled into the night, flying toward Rome on foot. His contact was someone we hoped would be able to give us more info about Lilith, perhaps a weakness, or something to use against her.
Eleazar had been willing to go, but had tempered my hope, letting me know that the man he'd visited on several occasions was old, feeble, and blind. A caretaker in the libraries of the Vatican, the man had only alluded to a great treasure of knowledge being harbored deep within the holy city. A fountain of knowledge hidden away from prying eyes, known and accessible only to the oldest and most holy of men. Whether or not the man actually held the key to this treasure trove was yet to be seen.
Eleazar had been cautiously optimistic, I knew, but didn't want me to hang all my hopes on this particular mission. To think that something so important, so priceless could have been kept secret for so long seemed unfathomable. To be honest, it would have all seemed too much like Hollywood…too Tom Hanks or Nicholas Cage for me…had I not just solved the mystery of our ancient adversary in a similar manner.
I hoped that Felipe's stunned look as he came through the door meant good news, but I couldn't help but breathe a sigh of disappointment when I saw Eleazar's empty arms as he entered. Certainly he or Carmen could've memorized anything they uncovered, but I would've preferred to see some sort of written material they'd found for myself.
But then a feeling akin to electrical static raced across my skin unexpectedly, overshadowing my worries. The feeling made me shiver in anticipation…it was a dawning awareness that something was about to change…a feel that charged the air around us. Eleazar's eyes were glued to Carlisle as he walked into the room, and I didn't know how to interpret his look…except perhaps stunned jubilation. I could see the others around me, the combined mass, stirring like me.
He'd found it…
Eleazar had brought our answers; I knew it deep within my heart, and my fingers went to Edward's ring. The gold seemed to warm my hand, as if it too, an inanimate object, could feel the blazing joy within my soul.
Then, as if a rush of air streamed into the room, a thousand brushes of fingers rushed across me, lightening the load of the despair resting on my shoulders, as if lifting it from me and flinging it to the far corners. From beside me, Aden muttered in Arabic under his breath, and I saw his eyes widen in surprise. I could feel my own hope rising with that of Aden's and the others. Carlisle remained still, as if sensing that we were in the presence of something unknown. Anticipation held us all frozen, like an audience expecting the culminating crescendo of a symphony…hushed silence with baited expectation. I could hardly bear to wait for Eleazar to stand in front of Carlisle; I wanted Eleazar to tell us what they'd found, but I could not help but linger in the lightness that swirled around the room…the surge of power that hope brought.
But then, Stefanie and William drew every eye.
William, his eyes glowing red, growled…the sound coming from deep inside his chest. It wasn't a sound of warning, but greeting. I'd heard the wolves do it a multitude of times as they bumped into each other in greeting like overgrown dogs. Jake's and Seth's forms shimmered, as if William's response had called to them. He closed his eyes to focus on the air around him, and I saw his long black hair flutter at the ends. He seemed to whisper Marcus' name, but that couldn't be. He and Stefanie were here with us, not spirit walking. His smile, though, was brightly happy.
Stefanie looked like an angel. The dress she wore fluttered around her as if lifted by the wind, and her long black hair swirled in the air as if the thousands of fingers that had caressed me in understanding now played with the strands. As if in a trance, she moved her hands upward as if in an ancient greeting to the sun, and slowly lowered…calming the forces around her. And just as suddenly as it'd had happened, the air shimmered and steadied in obedience.
It was in the silence of the moment that my eyes were drawn to the bronze double doors where a lone figure stood. Dressed in an unrelenting black robe that resembled something between the old Volturi robe and a priest's soutane, the figure stood patiently, I was certain peering out at us from under the hood of the robes. My gasp drew attention, and the others noticed the person who observed us. Jasper moved quickly, having regained his senses after the unexplainable event. Placing himself between us and the figure, he rolled onto the balls of his feet in preparation, protectively, defensively.
A soft chuckle echoed from the figure in the dark robes and the sound of it was…enchanting. A thousand bells joined in perfect harmony.
"Jasper…" Eleazar's voice was harsh as he tried to tell Jasper to calm, but he was then interrupted.
"Warrior, be at peace," the voice came as the man pushed the cowl away from his face. "For now."
Jasper's body loosened in obedience to the man's words, his feet settling down onto the floor. Carlisle straightened and took an unexpected step forward. I would've thought he recognized the man, but it was clear he didn't. As if drawn by an unseen force, Carlisle began walking toward the stranger, even as Aden straightened beside me as well, speaking very quietly in Arabic. The only word I could recognize was Allah.
But my attention to my family's reaction was eclipsed by my observation of the vampire in front of us. Though dressed in the unrelenting color, and void of any ornamentation or jewelry, he was mesmerizing. Black long hair swept down across his shoulders, and the neatly trimmed beard framed a face that I wouldn't call handsome, but more arresting. Shrugging the cloak off his shoulders and handing it off to Felipe, the man's action only served to reveal more unrelenting black clothing, and for some reason the image I had was that of a priest. Father Paul's face danced before me in my mind, but I realized that the human priest was but a baby compared to the being in front of us. This stranger was ancient…this observation sang out at me, and I was sure, to the others in the room.
With a patience borne out of perhaps millennia of practice, the man watched the almost snail-like pace with which Carlisle approached. And I watched as the unseen fingers danced through Carlisle's hair, stirring it slightly; I could've sworn I almost heard laughter. Esme took a step toward her husband, but then stopped, seeing the man hold his hand out to Carlisle…palm out. It was an ancient greeting, I knew from the information that Jasper had told us almost in passing in his quest for historical knowledge. Carlisle passed a stupefied Jasper, drawing near to the man that stepped just a few feet further into the room. The gasp that went up when he did was entirely too loud. A burst of sunshine broke through the windows placed in the cupola above us at that precise moment and danced across the man, highlighting him with sparkles that reflected onto us and the walls and furniture. Deep, burnished golden eyes gazed out in peace from beneath the slashes of his raven eyebrows. Like Anna, his skin was more mocha than white, and the prisms that reflected off his skin made him appear almost…
I glanced to Eleazar and Carmen and saw such a look of peace that I wanted to shout, but I did essay a smile when Eleazar winked at me. Winked at me!
"Hello, Carlisle," the man murmured, his voice filling the room even though it seemed too soft to do so. It wasn't the volume, I realized, but the authority inherent in his voice that made it feel so powerful. Goosebumps raced across my skin. The way he'd said Carlisle's name seemed as if he knew him, that this wasn't just knowledge that Eleazar had shared. Eyes flickering over our father's features, the man continued. "Stregoni Benefici… Defender of Good…" Carlisle halted before him, moving to place his palm against the man's. Peace settled over the man's face with the contact. "Beloved Son…" he murmured.
Esme cried out at the way that Carlisle swayed. The man reached for Carlisle's other arm, supporting him as they continued to touch palms. Electricity crackled between them, dancing across their skin in an ethereal display. The entire room took a step forward in defense of Carlisle, but Eleazar held his hand up to stop us. Carlisle didn't cry out in pain; in fact, his face seemed to be transforming. Bliss…it was the only word I had to describe the emotion washing over him. I had to trust that Eleazar had not led a danger into our midst.
"Beloved Son?" Carlisle croaked, as we watched his transformation. "Who….?"
We all knew what Carlisle was trying to ask. We were in the presence of something…someone…
Smiling gently, the man looked over each one in the room, his eyes lingering on me for the barest of moments, before he looked back to Carlisle.
"I am Enoch…"
As Aden fell to his knees in deference and Carlisle gasped, I felt it again.
By faith, Enoch was transformed
That he should not see death.
Would love to know your thoughts?
As always, I can't thank ColdOnePaul enough for his faithful editing. He keeps me on my toes and makes sure that this comes to you with a degree of intelligence.
And a kind and happy welcome back to Charles for joining my and Paul's debates. Once he realized where I was in the story and where I was going...he was kind enough to jump back in! Oh...you should see the texts...
I would also like to thank Crystal and Dawn for their pre-reading, notes, and corrections. I feel like I need a Team Full Moon Rising shirt for them! ;)