I do not own Twilight, no copyright infringement intended.
Comprehensive thank-yous at the end.
76 years later
Things were confusing, and for quite a while some of us found ourselves torn between missing Chelsea, and wondering if anything we felt for anyone was real or not.
Her effects were more deeply ingrained than we'd thought, and they didn't die with her. For those who had been with the Volturi the longest, it took around fifty years until they could genuinely say that the artificial bonds had completely faded away.
I knew I was cured when I finally lost the urge to climb on top of Demetri.
We did not collapse with infighting as she'd predicted, rather things were discussed—sometimes heatedly—rather than fixed artificially. Caius disagreed with Aro more often, as did Marcus on the rare occasion, but ultimately, their aim was the same and that encouraged the three to find a mutually satisfactory solution.
There was the occasional disagreement amongst the guard members, but even the most intense of fights could be stopped with a heavy dose of Raveena.
Raveena now occupied a much more powerful position in the guard, and she became prominent around the castle rather than being constantly hidden away babysitting Marcus. Down the years she had, in her own way, developed feelings for him. After giving him respite from her talent, partly through being busier around the castle, partly through being less paranoid about what Chelsea might do, it turned out that Marcus felt something for her, too.
For all it wasn't quite a relationship the way I understood it, it was nice to see that they'd both found companionship, and had learned to smile a little more.
Once they'd gotten married, Raveena had become one of the wives. It hadn't changed her much—well, no more than the effects of finally being with Marcus in the first place. She still socialized with us—I was even her maid of honor. Marcus was unrecognisable from the being he'd been previously. Seeing him smiling serenely wasn't something I had easily gotten used to.
It was an adjustment to see the other wives around the castle, too, now that Aro and Caius didn't keep them squirreled away. Waifish and almost ethereal creatures, Sulpicia and Athenodora looked as if they barely existed on this planet. They looked more like ghosts than vampires after being holed up with Corin day after day, year after year, century after century. If Raveena was the resident novocaine, then Corin was the psychotropic drug.
Having Corin circulating amongst the rest of us certainly lifted everyone's spirits-Felix in particular. It seems he'd always liked her, but with her role keeping the wives artificially content and Chelsea keeping him convenient for her, they'd never had the chance.
That was the second Volturi wedding that I'd had an invite to, though this time just as a guest. The argument over who got to take Riley as their plus one wasn't easy—in the end I'd won due to Demetri taking on best man duties.
Demetri had the most difficulty dealing with Chelsea's absence out of all of us—mainly due to the effects she'd had on his partner. After the lust and romantic feelings Riley had been inspired with faded away, and after much soul-searching and confusion, Riley eventually decided he was straight. Completely straight.
Demetri didn't handle that well. His feelings were genuine, as it seemed it had been for everyone he'd almost hooked up with in the past. Chelsea had done a thorough job of making sure no one managed to stay too close; I never did understand why. Probably for the same reason she kept the wives locked away, and Felix and apparently Santiago to herself, too. She wanted it all and then some. Or maybe she just liked to play?
Demetri constantly listened for her consciousness, in case she hadn't burned, but so far, she'd not reappeared on his radar. By now, we'd assumed that she no longer existed.
I didn't doubt that Aro knew who'd done it, but he'd never said anything to the rest of us. My money was on Jane—she was still very much the favorite and I was sure, one of the few who would get away without feeling the consequences. Riley put his money on Alec, and Demetri opted for Caius. Eric suspected Raveena—he didn't quite "get" her the way the rest of us did, and I guessed that, on the outside, it seemed that she'd gained the most.
Sometime after Demetri and Riley had ended, and we were having difficulties with the three of us being just friends, Eric had shown up. He was a half-Swedish, half-Lebanese psychic. He had presented himself at one of the side entrances and asked to be shown in, and delighted Aro when he'd said that he was here to have a long and happy career with the Volturi.
He also said that he'd find the love of his life here—so far, that seemed to be true.
I was pleased to say that the sight of Demetri pawing Eric instead of Riley made me a lot more comfortable. Eric was sassy, exceptionally well dressed, and perfect for Demetri. Demetri in requited love was a wonderful sight to see, and I was happy for him—really.
Once he found someone, he was a lot easier to be around. I even counted him as a friend now, and we never, ever got horizontal—or vertical for that matter—ever again. For all I felt the occasional twinge when he and Riley spent time together, I didn't worry too much.
There would be nothing going on behind his psychic lover's back.
In the past, I'd hated him, but now I had a certain amount of admiration for Demetri. If it wasn't for him confronting Chelsea, who knows where we'd be now? I'd certainly not be standing in front of a mirror like I was.
Raveena stepped up behind me and put the veil on my head as I looked down at my dress and wrinkled up my nose.
"Well, I guess it's more appropriate than white."
"White dresses are only a recent tradition, and this suits you better." Raveena's voice was calm and emotionless—she was an ideal person to have with you to calm pre-wedding nerves.
I looked down at my floor length, long-sleeved, tight fitting black dress, slashed to the thigh. It looked awesome, but I definitely wasn't your regular blushing bride. I'd never pictured myself getting married, but it wasn't as if people were going to think that I got knocked up anymore. I might only look eighteen or nineteen, but the fact was that I was almost one-hundred and fifty-two years old. If I wasn't old enough now, then I never would be.
And I was marrying for the right reasons, too. He was my best friend and being with him was as easy as breathing—though I needed him more than my vampire lungs needed air.
The fact that the sex was hot had very little to do with matters—okay, well maybe just a little.
I smirked to myself, remembering what I was wearing underneath my atypical wedding dress. Riley and I'd not done it for a week, and by now, I was definitely counting down for the honeymoon.
There was a knock at the door, and Aro asked if we were decent. I didn't know why he'd be bothered, seeing as when he read our minds, he'd see everything that our eyes had anyway.
"Yes," both Raveena and I replied.
"Bella, you look simply wonderful," Aro cried as he walked inside and took my hands in his, falling silent as he read my thoughts. After he was satisfied, he made his way over to Raveena, who bowed her head respectfully.
"Ah, Raveena, also stunning. Are we ready, my dears?" He held his arm out to me and I took it. Raveena remembered to hand me my flowers—white lilies and red roses, which I thought were pretty apt. As I descended, I saw Eric waiting at the bottom of the stairs.
From the second Riley and I had walked into the common room to announce our engagement, Eric had squealed and started planning his outfit immediately. Part of me wondered whether he'd really foreseen being my second bridesmaid, or whether I'd just gone with his insistence that it was going to happen. He looked as perfectly groomed as always—fashionable in his modern hooded silk shirt under his designer suit.
Modern fashion baffled me—I stuck to what I knew or what I could figure out how to wear in the stores. I was much more comfortable getting to grips with modern music and literature, though I had lamented the downfall of actual books. I missed the smell, and the ritual of turning the pages. Somehow, touching a screen didn't feel as personal.
The music started up as we got into position. Looking at myself and Aro in black, and Raveena and Eric in deep red, I hoped that we didn't look like we were off to a funeral, but I guessed that all the guests were technically dead, and the color scheme was more designed for the reception later. Blood didn't show up so much on red and black.
Raveena walked down first—calm as usual. Eric sashayed his way, pausing for just a second at the front—he must have been a catwalk model in a previous life. Then it was Aro and myself; I swallowed hard and put my least clumsy foot forward.
Though I was aware of the familiar faces in front of me, I concentrated on the bodies standing at the end of the aisle. Marcus was officiating, and he stood there motionless and half-smiling.
The two men, Riley and his best man—Demetri, grinned at me. If I could blush, I'd be beet-red by now. I felt so uncomfortable with everyone's eyes on me that I almost wished this part would be over and done with so that we could join Heidi in the great hall with the refreshments.
It seemed to take an age to get to my destination, and Aro officially gave me away before taking his familiar seat at the head of the room. As Demetri stepped away, he winked.
Words became a blur as I looked up into Riley's eyes, then things got easier. If he was with me, then I could do this. I repeated what I was told to like an automaton, my focus on my husband-to-be at all times. He was perfect, and I was luckier than I had ever deserved to be.
I realized I'd made it through the ceremony when suddenly Riley's lips were on mine, and there was a resounding cheer.
If I didn't know better, I'd be sure I even saw Raveena shed a tear.
Finally, after leaving the party and changing into our travelling clothes, we walked across the airfield and up the steps to the Volturi private jet.
Our honeymoon was a world tour—apparently, there was a point in every vampire's existence when you got a touch of the wanderlust and wanted to see everything. For me and Riley, that was now.
I was going on the understanding that I would return, should it be requested. I was still very much part of the Volturi—and happy to be. Eric had gladly informed us and Aro that we would be back in Volterra for his and Demetri's wedding, and we'd stay for good. Apparently, I'd look beautiful in fuchsia. I decided to take Eric's word for it.
Settling into my seat, my hand gripped Riley's.
"Surely you're not scared of flying?" he joked, before moving in for a kiss.
Rolling my eyes, I replied, "No. You know why I'm nervous. I've not seen them in one-hundred and thirty-three years."
"And you already know that they'll be fine with you, thanks to Eric. Relax. Enjoy the journey."
He was right. Eric had told us that we'd head for Paris first, and Alice and Jasper would be waiting for us. We'd spend a month there before we all travelled to the part of Montana where the Cullens now lived, then we would head back to Forks to trace our roots.
I wondered how Demetri managed to put up with someone completely unable to keep a secret. Eric's omnipotence did get kind of old at times, though it was a relief to know that the Cullens were still around.
His description of them reassured me that they'd all survived the battle—the only one that had perished was Edward. There was an addition to the family—someone that Riley was familiar with—a young vampire girl named Bree. Most importantly, Eric had reassured me constantly that they would be pleased to see me, with the exception of Rosalie, and that they didn't blame Riley or me for Edward's destruction.
I'd also asked whether Jake was still around, and I hadn't known quite what to think when Eric said yes, but to brace myself for seeing him as an old man. He also warned me to ring ahead and arrange to meet in neutral territory, as his house was often frequented by his grandchildren—a whole brood of male and female shape shifters. Apparently Grandma Black, or Leah as I once knew her, wouldn't take too kindly to my presence either.
Riley and I both wanted to visit our families. Both of us had no human siblings, and our lines would cease to exist with us, but I wanted to go visit Charlie's grave. He'd died of a heart attack fifteen years after my disappearance—from what I could find out via the internet, it seemed that he'd never stopped looking for me. He'd also remarried—Sue Clearwater. I hoped that he hadn't worried too much, and that he'd been happy.
Renee had divorced Phil and married twice more—the last time to a wealthy Vegas casino owner, and lived to a ripe old age. Still, she was gone, too.
As we took off, I gripped Riley's hand tighter and wondered about what might have been if things hadn't happened the way they did.
What would have happened if Edward hadn't died on the mountainside that day? Would I have been half as happy as I was with Riley now?
If things had been different, would I have continued to tear both Edward and Jacob apart? Would I have gotten my wish and been turned by the Cullens, or would I have been long in the ground by now?
I tried to picture myself in another life, but I couldn't. The whole idea was incomprehensible to me. I was more content now than I could ever remember being.
The past seemed to be defined by constant choices—Edward or Jacob, human or vampire, Demetri or Riley, go here or do that—but that was no longer the case. The real choice had always been between how people tried to convince me to be, and who I was.
I'd always been out of step, literally stumbling through my human life, and I'd never felt normal. But whoever wanted to be just normal?
I'd had to face death, loss, and pain, but that had made me stronger. After getting through everything that had happened to me, I was more real and more myself because I'd found my place in the world and where I belonged.
This was the person I was always meant to be. Feeling pretty at ease with the world, I gave Riley my sappiest smile.
He smirked back and leaned in to whisper in my ear.
"Want to join the mile-high club?"
I laughed, and took him up on the offer.
Firstly, thank you to WolvesCanEatMe, my awesome prereader turned full beta. I love you in so many inappropriate ways. Above all the help you gave me on this, thanks for just being a friend.
Thank you to BforQueen and Casketformytears—my VBs at My Vamp Fiction and Twilighted for such consistently quick turnarounds. You guys are awesome!
Thank you to the Hillywood Show for creating the Twilight Eclipse Parody, and specifically, for filming the scene that inspired this whole story, (Bella/Riley/Demetri 9mins 25-28secs)which was originally planned as a three shot maximum, but somehow got out of hand.
Thank you to mycrookedsmile for mentioning me on Perv Pack's Smut Shack, and for sticking with the story.
Thank you for all my other readers and reviewers. I know this was a bit of a strange little alternative universe that I created, and not a popular one, but it made me immensely happy to write—even happier when other people enjoyed it. Keep in touch—both WayBeyond and Leanne Golightly have their own twitter accounts—WayWayBeyond and angel_eyes1_uk.
Thank you to the former Chelsea, Demetri, and Felix at FTN role playing site, whose RP personalities helped me develop my characters.
Thank you to Stephenie Meyer for writing Twilight, and to David Slade for making Eclipse my favourite Twilight film so far.
Lastly, I'd like to thank Charlie Bewley and Xavier Samuel for being so easy on the eye, and making it very easy to imagine them in compromising positions.
Just for info, I imagine characters as follows:
Chelsea – Amanda Seyfried (Letters to Juliet/Mean Girls)
Raveena – Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire)
Eric – Eric Saade (Swedish popstar)