So this is it, my lovelies. This story was my very first fanfiction I started to write and though during the past three years I've lost my interest in everything related to Twilight, though my shipper heart remains loyal to Bella and Jasper.
I know, some of you expected this story to be longer, but I didn't want to drag out this plotline only to write more chapters, but not saying much at all… I find it better to end the story here and leave the rest to your imagination.
This last chapter is written from Carlisle's point of view and gives us a sneak peek into the happily ever after of… well, of everyone (almost).
This chapter is betad by the wonderful Mich who is a great friend and sacrificed her own free time to help me with this chapter.
"So this is who I am,
And this is all I know,
And I must choose to live,
For all that I can give,
The spark that makes the power grow
And I will stand for my dream if I can,
Symbol of my faith in who I am."
(Celine Dion – Immortality)
10 years later…
"Are you sure about your decision, my love?" A gentle voice cuts through the silence that had grown uncomfortable in the room.
My gaze swept over the framed pictures over the fireplace and I find myself smiling at the memories that brought warmth and unexpected happiness into our lives, moments of bliss captured by these photos.
My mind drifts back to the day from ten years ago when I was shocked, learning the news about the fact that vampirism didn't have to be the final stage of our existence. Jasper was our miracle and so was Bella, that sweet and caring girl…
"Who would have thought that this anemic little wallflower would bring such a big change into our world?" The voice behind me speaks up again, reflecting my own thoughts.
My gaze falls on the first picture on the shelf. She is smiling into the camera looking carefree and absolutely beautiful with the light tan and the healthy glow adorning her cheeks. Jasper is standing behind her, triumphantly holding up her fresh English major-diploma above her head. He graduated the same year as a Psychology major and they both chose to stay and work in this little town, close to New York and far from the vampires.
Sometimes I find myself wondering if things didn't turn out like this, where would be all be now. What'd have happened if Bella died?
My stomach tightens uncomfortably at the thought of the possible outcomes, flashing violent images of guilt induced fights and deaths following her death.
I can only thank the Lord for keeping His watching eyes over us, offering us a chance to change with her help, to turn back from the road once we've chosen .
Bella never knew that Edward spared her life because Rosalie managed to convince him to - that Bella wasn't worth the problem her death would cause everyone. I can still remember the dangerous glint in Jasper's eyes when Rosalie had called her pitiful and that she looked like a survivor of typhus fever. I didn't pay attention to Jasper's reactions when it came to Bella. No one really cared about what was going on in his mind… and his heart. No one bothered to understand how much he had to suffer not only from his bloodlust and his love for Bella, but also the big conspiracy forming behind Aro's back, to ruin the established rules of our world. No one paid attention to the significance of our weird reaction to Bella's presence.
"I was always wondering how was she able to resist our powers." The voice interrupts my thoughts again, but all I can do is nod again. Apparently, I'm too obvious.
No one could deny it anymore that she was different. For humans, she was different in a completely other sense. They never pay real attention to those who are like Bella. The ones that are not the prettiest, smartest, trendiest people. They are present; they do what they're required to do, yet remain invisible. Whether they get married or remain single, no one raises a single brow. Whether they die of sickness or commit suicide, people barely remember their names.
But for us, vampires, these people are the most interesting ones. Not because of their blood or because their death or disappearance would hardly bother anynone.
There's something going on in the minds of these people. They might be barely noticed by society, but these people can turn out to be the most interesting ones. Their thoughts, desires, plans – even if those ideas never come to life – are deep, sometimes depressing, but mostly, exciting.
Edward, my darling son, came from the era where quiet people and especially women, were cherished. Every man looked for a woman who, apparently had no thoughts and ideas of her own. But, later these people, the seemingly unattractive and boring ones, started to form the world with their silent observing, followed by interesting innovations. The good houseviwes came up with the brightest ideas to make their life easier and were the pioneers of much bigger inventions.
Edward was always drawn to these people. He loved to listen to their thoughts and lately, he started to write novels, based on some of those ideas he learned from them. Oh yes, Edward evolves too. We were all alarmed when he had to come to terms with what happened between Bella and Jasper. We were worried that he'd return to his old habits and I was afraid that Aro would order his execution.
Somehow, he managed to survive. He disappeared and we hadn't heard from him for more than a year, until the Denalis informed us that they found him in the North, living far from people but close to the wilderness and remaining loyal to our diet. It was Tanya who sheltered him and though he was almost in a cathatonic state of mind by then, she somehow managed to convince him to come out of his shell. They asked us for advice how to make him communicate again. We thought music would help him, like it helped him after he became one of us. But, all he did was break the provided baby grand piano into tiny pieces.
The Denalis said he looked like a caged animal. I still don't know the details of what happened, but Tanya went after him when he tried to escape, she talked to him, or just sat nearby waiting, for weeks. I've heard that at some point, she irritated him so much that he almost ripped her apart. One day then, she left to hunt, leaving her notebook behind. By the time she came back, the notebook was filled with Edward's writing.
We all let out a sigh of relief when, instead of talking, he started to write. At least he was communicating in some way. There were millions of thoughts he had to listen to during the past century and no one fully paid attention to the inner turmoil going on in him by hearing it all, the ugliest, the murderous, the most perverted and twisted thoughts of the people around him.
Tanya convinced him to turn those thoughts into novels, and he is a published author now, not under his real name of course. His novels are successful, but not getting too much attention. It's for the best, for everyone. His first novel was an absolute bestseller and he could barely escape the photographers that camped in front of the publishing house, hoping to see the writer who was able to write such an interesting novel, combining genres yet still voicing the inner thoughts of the people… He is more careful since then, keeping his best work for his drawer.
I miss him, to be honest, but knowing that he finally found his happiness with Tanya and is doing well, makes me happy .
"We are on our best way to discover the special factor in her gene code that makes her different. Though, the science is not advanced enough at this point. It can take a few more decades to have the right equipment developed, to move forward with our work." I hear myself responding, while my fingers trace the second photo on the sill. It captures Bella watching Jasper with adorning eyes, a sweet smile playing around her lips as he says his vows to her, while pulling the ring onto her finger.
Her dress is simple and elegant, her shoulders are covered with a lace bolero, but even the sheer fabric can't hide that she got womanly curves in the right places, her hair is thick and shiny, her eyes look like they never stop smiling and she looks overall like a completely different person. I remember myself repeating this line a hundred times for the past ten years, but I still can't help remembering how sick and lifeless she looked before.
But, what makes this photo interesting is actually Rosalie standing in the background in a magenta coloured dress as a bridesmaid, with her proudly protruding belly.
"I thought the magic would work only once." My thoughts are interrupted again, but I don't mind.
Yeah, Rosalie was the first volunteer to continue the experiment with venom and Bella's blood. Of course, Emmett, her caveman-gentleman couldn't allow it, and he went first. I still remember his apologies to Bella before sinking his sharp teeth into the soft skin of her jugular, though she reassured him with a brave smile saying it was okay, it didn't hurt too much.
"It works every time." I say, smiling fondly at the memory how hard we started to laugh when Rosalie woke up as a human and her first line was addressed at Emmett, now come on, monkey man, give me a dozen babies. And she kept her word. At this time, they are pregnant with their fourth baby and she can't stop sharing the baby-stories with anyone who's willing to listen. No one blames her though. She waited to have them for a century. Literally.
"How many times did she go through with this experiment?" The voice asks again as my gaze falls on the next photo with Jasper holding their newborn son, Geoffrey Jasper Whitlock tightly against his chest, while Bella's watching them with a tired, watery smile from her hospital bed.
"Five times. We didn't want to push her body to its absolute limits. First, we weren't sure it'd work for the second time, so she and Jasper decided to finish university first." I respond truthfully, my gaze falling on the photo with Esme holding their daughter, Elizabeth Isabella Whitlock who was born twenty months after her brother. "We wouldn't risk her losing her babies, so the timing of her pregnancies and breastfeeding was discussed too."
"Why did it matter to you if she was pregnant or not? Humans can conceive so easily, she could have had another baby if she miscarried… everyone would have understood that sometimes there are sacrifices needed for the greater good."
The smile fades on my face and my lips tighten into a thin line. Only a vampire would say something unsensitive like this. But, I became so used to being surrounded with humans and babies during the past years that I wouldn't trade their lives for any experiment.
Feeling a hand on my shoulder, I know he sees my thoughts and memories. I know it saddens him and he doesn't understand the joy I get from living my life like this. For him, it would be forever a life in the shadows; he loves it, the power he has over the vampire universe… and the devastating power he could unleash over the human race, merely raising one finger.
But, I know him. He holds all the power in this world, but I believe he is a good leader. Too soft for some of our kind, maybe, because he actually likes what he does. He likes to keep the peace between the vampire covens, he loves being responsible for the human part of the world, by holding back the vampires from coming out and start their killing spree.
"Are you completely sure it works?" He asks me in a tender tone and I hear Jane sigh in front of the door where she stands as an unnecessary guard because Aro is paranoid like that. She returned to him after discovering that Maria was lying and she found both her brother and lover alive. Dimitri and Alec were safe now and I'm sure they'll never forget the past.
My fingers touch the next frame with the photo of Charlotte and Peter. Charlotte holds Bella's daughter under the water as the priest baptizes the baby.
"I'm sure. Jasper would never have let his brother to undergo the experiment if it didn't work."
"How does it happen, exactly? Do the Major and the kids share the same gene-mutation?" His phone chirps, but he ignores it. Apparently, nothing is as important for him right now, as talking to me.
I turn my gaze away from the last frame which stands there empty, waiting to be filled with Esme's and my photo soon.
Facing him, I can feel the grief and sorrow radiating from him. His shocking red eyes are in a stark contrast with his pale skin. Once, I found him handsome. Once, I let him love me.
I was ashamed of myself for years then. The older vampires just smirked when they saw us together. They were those who came from times when a love affair between two men didn't get as much response as a disapprovingly raised brow. But those who were coming from the times of prudence followed us with outright disgust written all over their features and words like sodomy and whore were whispered behind our backs. Aro pretended that he never heard these cruel words, the cheery mocking expressions as he kept showering me with his gifts and his love, even if he knew damn well, how I despised his exaggerated affections.
I wasn't ashamed of what we were doing behind the closed doors. I didn't mind that even during the most conservative eras of human history, he kept kissing me in front of a horrified audience, just for the sake of shocking them. The more he loved me, the more I found myself feeling digusted by his touch, knowing, he was prying, searching for the answers in my mind; the answers I wouldn't say out loud. I couldn't bear the thought that he tried to scan my every thought, every plan and wish… He tried so hard, too hard to keep me happy and satisfied which ended with my decision to break up with him.
I could never thank Jasper enough for giving me the courage to leave.
I keep that one painting of our past here in my office though. The one where Aro, Caius and Marcus are dressed in black and I'm the only one in a gold suit and bright white shirt, with rich lace around my neck and wrists. This painting was a special gift from Aro as a reminder of what we meant for each other once.
For me, this painting is the reminder of the person I never wanted to be again, a bird in the cage made of gold.
"Only the girl, Elizabeth." I admit quietly, knowing that I might put her life into jeopardy with this admission. But, I assume, it's better to admit something he already knows than to lie to him and risk him taking the babies away and letting his men experiment on them.
"How old is she?" He asks speculatively, searching for a hint of hesitation in my tone.
"Is she a singer?" He chooses the term carefully, observing me with hawk-eyes.
"Not yet. I think it comes with the puberty, after the hormonal changes in her body."
"Are you sure you don't want to wait with this human thing, until she reaches the right age to test your theory on her?" He cocks his head aside, letting his eyes wander over my body he knew once well.
I think of the empty frame behind my back. I think of the words I exchanged with Bella ten years ago.
One life to live. One love to experience… every minute, every second matters.
If there was any doubt in me before, it vanishes as I let myself relax in front of him, because I know he won't hurt me. He will do anything that's in his power to protect me… to make the town where I'll spend my life safe from the vampires.
Because vampire or human, real love comes only once in a lifetime. And though, I could never reciprocate his feelings with the same intensity, he was the only man I was able to love… even if it lasted only for 60 years which is not much longer then a month in a human's life.
But the memory of our love would make him keep his word.
"I'm sure." I nod, thinking of Esme, how fragile and scared she was after she woke up a week ago. Her heart was beating erratically as she slowly came to a realization that she survived the transformation. Gone was the icy perfection of her face and body… her features adjusted to her actual age of 29; yet she never looked more perfect and beautiful to me. I can't wait to follow her.
"What do you offer to me in return for your safety?" He looks truly disinterested, since he already knows my answer. Alice became his right hand, right after Jane.
"I'm going to share the test results with you in the following years. I'm going to train someone of your choice to continue in my experiments."
"And you will help me to map out the possible gene-code that would identify the singers."
"I would do anything to save their lives." It makes me feel better, knowing that he doesn't want everyone to know about the possibility of reversing the turn into a vampire.
He basks in the glow of being merciful, saving innocent lives. I would believe this charade, if I didn't know about the fact that he wasn't merciful enough to put Maria out of her misery by letting her die. I would believe his act if I didn't know that when he feels bored, he likes to ask Jane to demonstrate her powers on Maria, letting Alice read her decisions; that he loves listening to her cries and watching her agony whenever he pleases or wants to demonstrate what is going to happen to those who ever dare to defy him now or in the future. Every single minute of her existence is a pure agony. When her mind is healed enough and she starts to grasp the scraps of reality again, Alice immediately informs Aro who instructs Jane to torture Maria until she looses her mind again.
I don't judge Alice and Jane. They both have their reasons to obey him. He spared their lives in exchange of making them watch what fate he is sparing them of. Betraying Maria over and over again is a small price for them to pay for their own safety and sanity.
"I count on your discretion." His kind tone becomes cold and clipped.
He may have loved me and maybe he still does, but he won't hesitate to punish me in case I would ever consider betraying his trust.
"You send me the blood samples of those you suspect being singers and I send you back the test results. Only you are going to know the names of the real singers." This was the focal point of our agreement. He was not going to let me know the names of them, to prevent me from warning them. "You promised to never harm them."
"And I intend to keep my word. We don't want another Bella-case to get out of the hand, right?" I hate that he is back to smiling at me with a sickeningly kind expression. "I intend to keep them away from our kind. Only I will decide who can't be convinced to stay a vampire. Only those who I allow to return to their human state, will. You are the last one who turns human without my permission."
I hate being cornered and he knows it. Our gazes meet and I see the challenge in his eyes, willing me to change my decision and stay a vampire. There's a hidden threat in his stare which makes me doubt his promise to keep safe the humans similar to Bella.
"I promise." I bow my head in submission because honestly, it's all I can do at the moment. I'm more than ready to close this chapter of my existence and finally start to live my human life. At this point, I just want him to leave.
"When are you going to…?" He clears his throat to mask the crack in his voice, "When's the date of your departure?"
For the fraction of a second, he lets me see the pain and grief ripping his insides apart and for a second, I share his pain because I'm compassionate like that and I still remember how much he loved me.
I know he tries to hold me back. I know he tries to manipulate me. I know he's heard of Esme's turning human and he still hopes I would return to him, changing my decision to join her. I can see it in his eyes that he would take me back, making me the most spoiled lover in the world.
He reaches out to touch me but I pull away from his hand. I don't want him to see what kind of thoughts are looming inside of me.
Putting on a polite smile, I respond: "Next month."
"Does it matter?"
"I want to remember the day I lost you."
I want to scream at him, that he lost me the day I left him, but all I do is to walk to my laptop, where my appointments are scheduled.
"16th of June." It isn't necessary for me to remind him that the date is the same day and month I left him in 1867. I'm sentimental like that, finding a strange satisfaction in seeing the hurt in his eyes. I see he's getting my message, as it slowly occurrs to him that I've chosen this date on purpose.
I see the understanding dawning in on him, as he slowly puts the pieces of the puzzle together in his head and his lips pull into a lazy smile, admitting his defeat. I return his smile, not believing for a second that his smile is genuine, confirming what I already know: he won't keep his promise to me.
Either way, I'm on the losing end of this story.
Pulling out his phone from his pocket, he checks the message he got and his demeanor is suddenly very different. I can't put my finger on it, but when he starts to talk again, I feel an ingenuine undertone in his voice.
"So this is our last time we see each other." He says softly.
I clench my teeth, nodding.
"Can I kiss you for one last time?" His tone is pleading, his eyes filled with sadness.
I shake my head.
"I'd rather not. Please." I add hastily when he leans closer, and there's only an inch separating us from touching.
"I've never forced you into anything." He whispers against my mouth and I swallow nervously. "I won't start forcing you know."
"Thank you." I exhale in relief when he takes a step back, ready to leave.
"So this is it." His whisper is barely audible. "Farewell, my love. Xaire…"
"Fare-thee well." I respond, closing my eyes.
He's gone when I open them again as my phone starts to ring.
"Hey Dad, what's up?" Jasper's light tone is followed by cute giggles in the background. I let the joy wash over me in an instant, hearing their voices as they try to keep calm, but fail.
"You know the usual, lots of paperwork and preparations." I keep my tone casual because I know I'm put on the speaker and this is not the time to discuss my weird encounter with Aro. "How's the holiday going with Charlie?"
"Sue spoiled us with the best meal; the kids are tanned and have become little savages, not listening to us at all." He says with a laugh.
"How's Bella doing?" I ask with a concern in my tone, because usually, she is under medical watch for three weeks after she helped to a vampire to transform. This is the first time I can't check her vitals multiple times per day to make sure she's okay.
"She's… ugh… okay. She just took a nap." Jasper responds hesitantly before the phone is apparently ripped from his hand.
"Grandpa!" I smile at the endearment, hearing them fighting over who gets the phone. "Guess what? Our family is going to have a new member!" Jasper Jr. is shouting the good news into the speaker and I freeze.
"Oh. Mommy is going to give you a new sister or brother?" It takes all of my self control to sound happy.
"Much better!" Lizzie yells in the background. "Mommy and daddy are leaving town to get us a puppyyyy!" The end of the word ends in a squeal of delight.
And with that, my legs give out from under me in relief, hating myself form my reaction. I take the seat and talk to Jasper for a few minutes, sending my love to everyone before we hang up.
Taking my coat, I leave my office and I'm actually surprised to see the sun is setting. It had been a long day. I can't wait to finally be at home and have a glass of wine with Esme.
"Carlisle." An oddly familiar voice stops me dead in my tracks just when I'm about to unlock the door of my car.
I turn around slowly, taking my time, to mentally prepare myself for the certainly unpleasant meeting with Aro's wife.
"Sulpicia." I nod at her, my expression guarded and polite. "To what do I owe this pleasant visit of yours?"
She regards me with a look filled with contempt and I don't blame her for it. Aro may have been married to her for more than a thousand years now and she saw some seriously sick shit happen in the catacombs of Volterra, but no one humiliated her more than her own husband when he openly chose me over her.
I never forget the look of hurt in her crimson eyes as she was required to stand next to Aro's throne while I got my own seat on his right side, which was her rightful place. Aro never let her out of his sight because their marriage sealed the treaty between the two of the most influencing covens and Volterra belonged actually to her family. She never said a word in my presence and if I recall correctly, Aro never spoke or touched her from the second he'd met me.
She wouldn't dare to kill me, Jane's presence made sure of that, but the hatred never left her gaze whenever she looked at me.
"I never thanked you for leaving my husband." He tone is cold and every word is well calculated. "Actually, I have to thank you for a lot more."
Taking a quick look around, I let out a sigh as I see an older lady walking her dog, her steps deliberately slow as she eyes us with interest. Surely, Sulpicia is a sight to behold, with her black hair cascading down to her waist, her olive complexion accentuated by a golden top and tight white pants, wearing sky high heels and aviators to hide the crimson of her eyes.
"We should take this conversation to my office, if you don't mind." Ever the gentleman, I can't force myself to rudely send her off on her merry way back where she came from. I owe her a lot; the guilt and shame of my past with her husband still hovers over me.
Once back in my office, she sniffs the air, noticing Aro's scent.
"So he came to say goodbye to you. How sweet." She puts down her sunglasses and places them on my desk, before taking an inspecting look around the room.
"I'm sorry, I didn't ask him to come here." My tone is apologetic, but anger starts to boil in me when she returns to me and takes a discreet whiff of me.
"I don't feel his stench on you." She muses, her shoulders relaxing a little. "At least, you had the decency to turn him down."
"I swear I didn't encourage him to come here." I try again but she holds up her hand, effectively stopping the flow of my nervous words.
"I know. I've heard it through the grapevine myself and I think he wasn't officially informed about your plans as well."
"Do you know who told him?" I ask, though I know I'd never get the answer.
"You know how it goes – someone utters a word here and there, someone else confirms it… the usual." She takes inventory of the framed photos of my family, taking a good look at all of them, like she couldn't believe her own eyes, before she turns her gaze to me as I sit behind my desk. "Anyway, discussing my dear husband is not the purpose of my visit here. Or,"she adds, after giving it a second thought, "Or maybe we should talk about him first."
I stay silent, watching her move around slowly, lethally. With women like her, one never knows if she's going to pat you over your head, or rip your throat out. I'm younger and stronger than her, but I've seen her in fights and this woman had mastered her fighting skills over the two thousand years of her existence. The hearsay said she was the brain behind Aro's peace-centered policy, but no one acknowledged her wisdom and skills.
Finally, she stops at my desk, taking a seat on the patient's chair.
"I bet you wonder what I'm doing here." I remain motionless, prepared to hear anything. She watches me with a scrutinizing stare before her lips pull into a smile. "Let's rehash our mutual past. You know the part when you fucked my husband right under my nose for sixty years."
"I'm sorry for hurting you." I don't dare even to blink as I sense her being on the edge. She could snap at any moment and dying wasn't on my wishlist for today. "Sulpicia, you need to know my love for him was genuine."
"I know." She scoffs. "Also, I know your love to him lasted for nolonger than a month, until you found out how selfish and ridiculous he is with his theathrical actions. I watched you. I knew you wanted to get away from him, but you were too weak and too naïve to leave him. Did you know he was mocking me even with the colours he made you wear?" She studies with the painting on my wall with a mock interest.
"What?" I stare at her dumbfounded.
"Oh, you didn't know." Her fingers trace the silhouette of my face on the picture. "The white and gold were the colours of my family, the colours of the one true vampire royal family. He was just a poor loser before I laid my eyes on him. He built his wealth and power with my help and when he made sure I'd never leave him, he just kicked me away like I wasn't more than a pair of muddy boots."
"I'm truly sorry for that."
She leans forward on her elbows, over the desk, her lethal eyes boring into mine.
"I'm not here to blame you for what he did to me. As much as it hurts to admit, it was partially my fault too. But, I was too occupied with other things at the time he had his affair with you."
"So, why are you here then?" I raise my brow at her and she lets out a chuckle.
"I see, it just occurred to you I didn't come to kill you." Her face turns suddenly serious. "Don't test me, dearest Carlisle. I came to do you a favour and the least you could do is to show some respect to me."
She nods and leans back on her seat, regarding me with an amused look.
"My husband thinks he's a genius to allow you to continue your experiments and research. He thinks he's the first vampire in the history who found such important leverage." She rolls her eyes as she says it. "Here's the newsflash: he's pretty late with this shit."
"Excuse me?" I'm totally confused now.
"I see I really got your attention." She smiles at me and this time, it's genuine. "As weird as it sounds, I have to thank you for having an affair with my husband. He never once touched me since then and this way, my thoughts are always sheltered from him."
I watch her, rendered speechless.
"While you were playing house with my husband, I learned that there are lots of our kind who were careful to shy away from his touch by then. I learned all their tricks and later, when they were sure Aro wouldn't touch me in the foreseeable future, I was allowed to learn the Volturi's secret."
"Who are they?" I ask, after I pick my jaw from the floor.
"Caius and Marcus. My dear husband is so sure of their loyalty that he hasn't touched them for the past five hundred years." She flips back her hair, her eyes never leaving mine. "They just needed someone to occupy him so they could approach me. And man, was I surprised to learn their secret…"
The gears in my mind work with crazy speed. What does her visit have to do with my forced agreement with Aro? Why does she saying me things like this now, when I'm going to leave the vampire world behind me? And most importantly, why did she let me in on her secret?
My brain tries to put the pieces together, until the realization slowly dawns on me. It's so shocking I refuse to believe it.
"I see, you are starting to get what I'm saying."
"The Volturi know about the singers." The words that leave my mouth sound strange even to my own ears.
She nods and regards me with an expecting look.
"But Aro doesn't."
"That's the point. I think, considering the options he gave you, I don't need to explain further why couldn't we let him know the truth about them. Since he learned about the Swan girl, he bought himself into the most expensive hospitals all over the world. All he needs is you starting to send him the confirmed blood samples and he is ready to set the best experts on this research. With other words, he only needs you to make the first step. Only you know, at this time, what to look for in Isabella's blood. Once you isolate the special gene, Aro is going to start his despotic reign over the world. He doesn't want world peace. He isn't interested in keeping the peace between our covens. All he wants is to come out and rule the world."
"How do you know this?" My voice shakes, despite my efforts to stay put.
"The ones you took under your wings are not completely lost cases. Alice is careful to avoid his touch, has been for two years now and Edward pops in from time to time for a friendly visit." She smirks. "They confirmed what we've already were suspecting: my husband simply lost his mind. We need to eradicate him from the face of the Earth before he does something unforgivably stupid."
"And Jane?" She's his secret weapon.
Her smirk never falters and it's not the first time in years, I'm amazed by this woman.
"Jane played her part well, occupying Aro's mind with the vampire wars and Maria's conspiracy against the Volturi, effectively leading him on exactly how it'd fit our plans. Every time a vampire showed up at the throne chamber with a weird story about the singers, either we made sure they never spoke up again, or we ordered the vampire to leave. We are lucky to know the singers don't live for too long."
"What do you mean?"
"Ah, those 80-90 years of their pitiful lives… who cares?" She shrugs and I let the relief wash over me. For a vampire of her age, it's really not a long time, to live for eight or nine decades. "Anyway, Marcus and Caius were getting fed up with his despotical ideas and they involved me in their plans."
"That's why you never once raised your word against me." I feel used, but weirdly, it doesn't bother me.
"Your presence served the right purpose. You left in the right time when Aro was this close to discover the truth." She mimics a pinch with her thumb and forefinger.
"Why are you telling me all of this now? Why isn't it important to you if I know this or not?"
She regards me speculatively, like she is leading an inner debate with herself.
"You are a bit slow today, Carlisle. I just told you that Jane is on our side and you don't even raise a brow." She stares at me patiently, letting me absorb the next bit of information. "The whole shit with Maria was just to mislead my dear husband. She's a crazy bitch and she kind of deserves what she gets, but" She raises her manicured finger, "She isn't in pain anymore. I took personally care of the business, with my own hands. May she rest in peace or rot in hell, I don't care."
"At least, she doesn't suffer anymore." I say. "And Aro can't even punish you for it."
"Well, now you hit the nail on the head." She entwines her fingers in front of her, resting them on my desk, the gold rings twinkling in the artificial light. "He is not going to punish anyone at all. Like, never. It doesn't mean, though, that he doesn't deserve a proper slap across his head for everything he ever did."
Jane accompanied him on his trip to me.
My eyes widen in shock.
"Is Jane going to kill him?"
"Oh please, it wouldn't be a punishment for him at all. It would be even a lamer plan than Maria's was. Once I learned about the humans with this strange ability, the perfect plan started to form in my head. Caius and Marcus supported my idea and all we had to do was to wait."
"You waited for two hundred years to take your revenge on him?"
"Sometimes you have to wait for the right opportunity for a lifetime; and the best form of the revenge is when one doesn't even know who pulls the strings from behind."
"What's going to happen to him?"
She looks so innocent that I almost believe her.
"Before he left, he got a text message from Alice that Isabella got pregnant and that this is the right opportunity for him to kill her." She bats her lashes, holding up Alice's phone in her hand.
I jump from my seat.
"She's going to die, oh my God…" I stutter, trying to form a coherent thought in my head, panicking.
"Hey, Carlisle. Calm down." I feel her hand on my arm and I flinch.
"Get the hell away from me!" I scream at her. "You planned it all!"
"I said, calm the fuck down." She seethes at me with an authoritative tone and I become motionless. "Call Isabella."
Taking my phone out of my pocket, I don't care that the fabric of my shirt rips at my speed, before speed dialing her number.
It rings two times before she picks up. The longest twenty seconds of my life.
"Hey Dad, what's up?" I can hear her smiling into the phone.
"Bella, where are you?" My voice is trembling, as I run my fingers through my hair nervously.
"On my way with Jasper back to the kids." Her tone doesn't waver.
"Where were you? I talked to Jasper an hour ago and he said… he said…"
"That I'm pregnant?" She laughs. "He was kidding. I'm having my period now, if you must know. I didn't forget my promise to you… the third addiction to the Whitlock family is going to be a puppy and not a baby, I assure you. But, after you turned, who knows, maybe we'll surprise you with a third grandkid?"
Her tone is light and teasing and I'm completely torn.
"Bella, don't get me wrong but I need you to hide somewhere. Take the kids and just leave."
My eyes meet Sulpicia's over the phone and her smirk remains on place.
"Hey Dad, what's the rush? We have another week of the vacation ahead." She laughs into the speaker.
"Bella…" My tone is warning.
There's a pause on the other end of the line.
"Hold on. You are you talking about what I think you are talking about?" She doesn't sound surprised.
"If you mean by Aro and Jane heading your way, then yes, that's what I mean." I confirm and Jesus, my hands start shaking.
I hear Jasper taking the phone from her hand.
"Hey, Carlisle, chill. We took care of that business three days ago."
"What are you talking about? He was at my place just an hour ago!" I'm desperate.
"So? Who says Jane is leading him here?"
"What the hell is going on?" I'm confused and I hate it.
"Look, Dad, we just got to the house. I believe Sulpicia wil explain everything to you." And with this, he simply hangs up.
Sulpicia regards me with a cool stare.
"What's going to happen?" I ask shakily.
"As I said, my dearest husband trusts Alice's visions blindly, especially, when he isn't there to touch her to see if she speaks the truth. She told him that Isabella is hospitalized in a healthcare centre in New York which we both know is thousands of miles from the west coast where your family currently are on their vacation." She smiles triumphantly at me. "He's going to reach the room she is supposed to be, in an hour, I guess. The smell of her blood will lead him into the right room. If he figures out sooner what's going on, Jane will pacify him. Caius and Marcus will be waiting for him, along with Alice who monitors his decisions, in case something comes up."
Jesus. This woman leaves nothing to the coincidence.
"What's going to happen?"
"It's quite easy. Isabella was kind enough to donate her blood and let Edward to heal her, three days ago."
"You risked her life for this? She just helped Esme's transformation a mere week ago!" I yell at her. Apparently, I lost all my manners tonight.
"There was no time to hesitate. Aro planned to pay a visit to you right after your wife's becoming human." She smooths her hair and her whole posture is relaxed. "Isabella risked it, she survived, as you heard for yourself in the phone and the rest is… going to be history."
"What do you plan to do with him?"
"Nothing interesting. In fact, I'm not going to kill him. I'll just let Caius and Marcus force Isabella's blood down his throat and let him turn into human. And then… I will have him transferred back to Volterra and watch him age and dessicate of some disease or old age."
"He might ask someone to turn back him into a vampire..." I mumble, dumbfounded.
This is the first time she looks straight into my eyes.
"Dear, innocent Carlisle... you think I am that stupid?" She lets out a chuckle full of mirth. "You don't pay attention to me at all, as I see. I told you I know about the singers for two centuries now. Don't you think I did my own research as well?"
"What?" I slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together, seeing a hint of something that I never gave a second thought before.
"I did my little experience on several newborns and singers during the wars with Maria. I let them turn human and then tried to make them become vampires again and guess what?" She regards me with a smile of relief and determination. "Once someone is turned back to human, it's irreversible. They stay human. This is what Aro doesn't count on. This is my chance against him and believe me, I'm not going to pass."
Knowing Aro, there is no bigger punishment for him. He despises the humans, their lives don't mean more to him than the life of a moth… he refuses to drink from old or sick people because they disgust him…
"I'm glad you know him well enough for not asking me for the why's in this story." She grabs her purse, before standing up.
Her cell chirps and she checks the text.
Inarticulate sounds are coming from her phone and she holds up the screen for me too see as Marcus pushes the content of a bloodbag into Aro's mouth, as he's being held down by Jane and Caius.
"What's going to happen now?"
"You return to your family, undergoing the transforming ritual with your Isabella and you are going to live your happily ever after."
"What about you?"
She reaches for the doorknob before flashing a last smirk at me.
"They say the women started to rule the twentieth century. It's time to adopt this policy in our universe too, don't you think?" She adjusts one of her clincking bracelets. "As for the whole singers thing. The Volturi know how to keep a secret. You and your family will die in a few decades and we can forget this incident. If another vampire comes up with the ridiculous idea of the singers, we are going to take care of the problem."
"You are going to be the head of the Volturis." This is not even a question.
"I am the head of the Volturis. Have been for two centuries now. I made sure the singers weren't exposed earlier. I'll make sure the humans stay safe from us… at least, those who won't come to Volterra. Though, I'm fed up with living in a constant sunlight and not being able to enjoy it… who knows where our new residence is going to be. Anyway, if you see the signs of our presence in a city or a town, leave. Immediately. I might not recognize you." She says it as a warning and not as a threat.
"Thank you." I'm still processing what I learned, feeling shocked and scared. And, strangely, there's some calmness settling over my emotions, knowing, that everything is going to be fine. Walking slowly to the huge painting of me and the Volturi, I take it down and with a sudden decision, I break the frame into half and don't stop until it's nothing more than a pile of small pieces. I throw it into the fireplace and light the fire instantly, watching with weird satisfaction as the last memory of me and them turns to ashes.
On my way home, I type my thank you to Bella. All she sends back is a winky face.
I can't wait to get back to my wife, being surrounded by the family I call proudly my own. I miss their warmth, the pounding of so many loving hearts close to me.
I can't wait to join them.
A/N: Xaire in ancient greek means farewell, and Fare-thee well is the ancient form of saying farewell.
Thank you for reading.