AN ~ Today, a little moment because they haven't had a moment for a while, and the visit to the Irish coven. Coming soon: Egypt! Enjoy.

In the mean time, if any of you feel like entering a comp to win a Tardis or $300 on Amazon (who couldn't use that right?) Enter here - www . genuitec raffle/ ?16NYSq

Chapter Seventy-Three: The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Esme:

When we finally touched down in Dublin my eyes were bare shades above black. Instinct, hunger, forced other sensations to the back of my mind. Carlisle prodded me in the back, prompting me to 'breathe'. I huddled close to him; it was already chilly and I, at least, had not thought to bring a jacket. Though we were not affected by the cold, my dress, short at the shoulders and the knees, was already drawing amused and sometimes ironic chuckles from those around us who were thoroughly rugged up against the weather. Carlisle wrapped his hands over mine, soothing but not abating the ever-present and worsening desire to clutch at my own throat, if not someone else's.

"You're doing excellently," Carlisle assured me as we tried to make our way as casually as possible towards the doorway. Every sound in the entire airport was howling in my ears, demanding that I feed. Having already suffered through an immense and tiring flight, my resistance was weakening.

"Take your time, okay?" Carlisle continued, his voice gentle and unobtrusive in the throng of people talking and laughing, of trucks driving and machines beeping and engines roaring in my ears. Like driftwood in a stormy ocean I clung to it. "One foot in front of the other. Stay focused. Just a few more minutes, sweetheart."

I began to shut out the other sounds, focusing on his voice so that the cacophony did not lead me to forget myself and collapse into instinct. But I could not ignore the sudden rush of approaching trolley wheels, squeaking and squealing faster and faster as someone ran up behind us.

It was a young boy, perhaps ten, racing up the corridor with a trolley. The rush of air in his wake hit me square in the face and I opened my mouth and inhaled it before I could stop myself.

Carlisle's arms instantly locked his arms around my hips, and Predator-Esme groaned loudly in frustration as her prey slipped away. All of a sudden Carlisle locked his lips over mine, an unusually forward public display of affection for him. Where he still clasped my hands, between us, his fingers dug into my hands, uncomfortable with the eyes on us. Then I realised how many eyes must be on us; we had been acting strangely enough, and then that sound – Carlisle must have acted to cover that sound. Oh, how embarrassing.

Giggling like a newlywed to feed our cover story I pulled away and tried to look as awkward and bashful as possible. At least it gave us an excuse to hurry the remaining few hundred metres to the door.

.o.o.o.

Carlisle:

By midday, well fed and unfortunately, once more preoccupied with Alice's disappearance and the impending Volturi visit, we were on the Irish coven's doorstep. They had a lovely little cottage in the highlands, and though they did not use it often, they would be close.

"Carlisle! Esme!" Siobhan called loudly from a hilltop not far off. Instantly we ran to her, and almost straight past.

"You look…panicked," she noted, tilting her head to the side.

"It's a very long story," I said, trying not to think too long on it all. "Might we discuss it with the others? I have something very important to ask of you."

Siobhan hesitated a moment, her eyes shifting from my face to Esme's and back before she called Maggie and Liam. As usual, Liam's expression was hard, but Maggie's was gentle and kind. It was surprisingly reassuring, given what it was standing up against.

"Start at the beginning," Maggie beckoned. The beginning. It seemed so long ago now, though it was mere seconds in the relative spectrum of our lives.

"If you would recall the…uh, rather serious relationship between Edward and the human, Bella?"

"Yes – you wrote about the wedding!" Siobhan declared with a brief grin. Suddenly, it disappeared, and she gasped: "You changed her, didn't you?!"

"Not exactly," I said. "Well, yes, exactly, but…things…escalated, you see…Bella bore Edward a child."

"Oh, no," Liam murmured. "We are sorry for your loss."

"No, no, it's not like that," I corrected, a well-needed flood of gratitude and relief dampening the panic. "She carried the child to full-term, and gave birth, but then Edward changed her with a needle of venom to her heart."

"Clever boy," Siobhan praised.

"But a strange story." Liam frowned.

"And one with drastic consequences, I fear," Maggie added. Her honest eyes were not on me, but Esme. Siobhan and Liam shared a glance. It seemed everyone had guessed what was going on, but was reluctant to say it.

"The Volturi that Renesmee – the child - is, in fact, an Immortal Child," I said. I only let a moment pass, unable to bear anxious, contemplative silence any longer. "But that is not true, I swear to you. She has blood pulsing through her veins, and she grows faster than any human. I'd swear on my life this is a misunderstanding."

I wrapped my arms around Esme's waist. Whether I would choose to or not, if Bella and Edward's fears about the Volturi's intent were correct, I may already stand to lose much more than that. Liam stepped up behind Siobhan.

"So it is to be a fight?" he asked solemnly. "You know we cannot beat them, Carlisle. Are we all to die over this 'misunderstanding?'"

Other friends we do not have to sentence to death.

"We wouldn't ask that of you," I assured them, though my voice was hardly calming. I had rehearsed it over and over in my head. I could not condemn my friends, no matter how much the memory of my granddaughter's face made me want to throw myself at their feet at beg. "Only to see the child, and to witness to the Volturi. If it does turn to a fight, I will make sure you are pardoned."

Siobhan looked deep into my eyes with hers. We had both seen the cost of pleading leniency with the Volturi: were we to spare even some of our friends, there would be no bargaining power for our family. The massacre would be brutal.

"If," Esme reminded us, squeezing my hand.

"If," Siobhan repeated, settling slightly.

"Then it is settled," Siobhan declared. "We will go to Forks, and we will stand by you, Carlisle "Ruh-nez-may? What an interesting name. I cannot wait to meet the personality it goes along with."

"Oh, you'll love her," Esme and I assured her at once. Siobhan grinned, and the three of them shot off out of sight; they would have to swim to America.

Carlisle watched them go, then raked a hand through his hair – a habit I fear he picked up from Edward, and sighed. He looked up at the sky – the sun only identifiable as a particularly glowing disc behind the clouds, pressed his hands together in a moment of prayer and let his head fall back, rejoicing.

"This is good, Esme," he whispered, shaking out of it, hooking his arm around me and kissing me, smiling though his grip was still nervously tight. "This is good."