Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the characters: they are the property of Stephanie Meyer. I just daydream with them a bit.
Rated M for profanity, violence and potential adult situations.
Author's Note: So this is it—the final chapter! YAY! Thanks everyone for reading and reviewing! I really appreciate the feedback and am honored by all of the favorite author/story adds. Here's the Major! :-)
I was dressed to the nines, outfitted in complete regalia, down to the razor-sharp saber that hung at my hip. The gold buttons, stitching and braid on my jacket gleamed softly in the light, contrasting with the dove grey of the fabric. Wearing the uniform felt natural. As I clothed myself in the clothing of my past, the mantle of authority settled on my shoulders and I felt more myself than I had in a long time.
Smoothing the lapels of my double-breasted dress uniform, I wondered again where Isabella could have found a mint condition confederate army Major's uniform. Isabella never ceases to surprise me, I acknowledged. Just when I believe I have her figured out, she shows me that I still have so much to learn.
She had refused my company on her last hunting trip, opting to go with Charlotte and Rosalie instead. I was offended that she had chosen the girls' company over mine and made my displeasure known. Isabella reassured me that she loved me and that she would be fine, but refused to be swayed.
The whole time Isabella was gone, I paced and worried, determined to give her a piece of my mind when she returned. Peter attempted to calm me down, but I would have nothing of it. Finally, just when I had made the decision to go and collect her, the girls made it back.
I rushed to meet my Belle and let her know just what I thought of her going off without me. This sight of my beloved smiling brightly stopped me short. All three of the women were loaded down with packages and bags. Isabella's excitement was palpable, overwhelming my irritation.
Curiosity got the better of me and I momentarily forgot about the lecture I had prepared. It was then that my Belle had presented me with the uniform. Fingering the familiar fabric in complete shock, I was overwhelmed with the effort that she had put into procuring the outfit.
When my wonder over the gift wore off, I felt like a complete ass. I had been intending to berate her over her actions, when she had only been wanting to surprise me. I made the immediate resolution to not needlessly question her decisions or abilities. Isabella had proved time and again that she would rise to the occasion; I needed to trust that she had the ability and wisdom to take care of herself.
Tomorrow, the Volturi were to return to Italy. Aro had watched Isabella take the reigns and pronounced her ready for independence. Remembering how insecure she had been not months ago, I marveled at her transformation. She had struggled to find her way during those first weeks after the battle. Overwhelmed with the pressures of being the one in charge, she had become withdrawn.
We had hardly spent time together and gauging her emotions, I knew that she was no less frustrated with the situation than me. She attempted to delegate her responsibilities, but everyone wanted her input and she just couldn't say no. I could sense that she wanted to prove herself but part of leading effectively was learning when to intervene and when to step back.
It was not until she snapped over the color of a stupid chair that we regained our footing. Isabella had been adamant that she would not sit on a throne, and Aro had been equally determined that she would. She acquiesced grudgingly. When her eyes met mine, I could detect her palpable desire. Before she could lash out at the only person who now had the authority to chastise her, I ushered her away to satisfy her needs.
That night we had made love repeatedly, unable to satiate our desire for one another. She confessed her uncertainty to me. "I don't think I can do this Jasper," she whispered. "It's all so much responsibility!"
"You can, Isabella! I have faith in you. The best leaders are never the ones who court power, but those who have it thrust upon them in order to protect those they love." Rolling over, I brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face. "You are not alone in this burden. I am here for you to lean upon if you will let me help. You have your father, our friends and family as well." I sent her my love and filled her with my confidence.
"Aro wants to put me on display," she whined. "Why does he care so much about appearances? Shouldn't people respect me for what I do, rather than where I park my ass?"
"It should," I agreed, twirling a lock of her silky hair around my finger. "But Aro has always been very concerned with appearances. He likes to preserve the distinction of rank. He thinks himself as king, and wants everyone who sees him to know it. I suppose he wants to be sure everyone knows that you are his appointed Queen." Isabella groaned.
"Tell you what," I suggested. "How about you let me pick out a place to park your scrumptious ass." She wiggled a little and I stroked her luscious flesh. "I'll find something comfortable and understated. You won't even know that you are perched on a throne."
Isabella nodded and grinned devilishly. "Maybe I'll make you my throne." She pushed me over and proceeded to show me just what she had in mind.
Since then, my Belle had handled herself with dignified aplomb. Isabella had truly grown into the natural leader I knew she could be. She was born to rule. Each passing day brought her more confidence. Our masses had swelled to over a hundred. Vampires had flocked to our new home to pay homage to the new regent, to offer their services or just gawk at the girl who had—without trying—become a queen.
From the heavy, carved wooden chair that I procured—she never referred to it as her throne—Isabella welcomed all with open arms and a graciousness never before seen from the Volturi. People seemed to love her and she repaid their loyalty with kindness and generosity. She learned the strengths and weaknesses of those who joined us and worked to find them tasks that used their talents and abilities, encouraging everyone to take an active role in their welfare. Given the chance to prove themselves, those she appointed rose to the occasion and far surpassed what was expected.
She grew to be firm in her directions and unyielding when it came to making time for us to be together. Within less than a month of our course correction my Belle had worked her magic and had an army of vampires who were incredibly loyal and devoted to her.
After Edward's demise, Isabella became much happier. I was pleased that her emotions were stabilizing for I had been worried over her ongoing solemnity. To my joy, she decided that she was ready to get married. With great excitement, she threw herself into planning our wedding, enlisting Charlotte and Rosalie to help.
Isabella had initially hoped for a simple affair, but her rise to power had made having a quiet ceremony impossible. Everyone wanted to witness our nuptials and to her dismay, Aro suggested that the ceremony would be a good time for a coronation as well. Isabella outright refused to be formally crowned, but compromised and promised Aro that she would wear a tiara for the wedding.
I didn't give a shit where or how we were married; all I wanted was to have Isabella be my wife. Though I had not been privy to the planning, I knew that it was going to be a grand affair. Aro had offered his services in officiating our wedding before they left. It could be counted on that he would lend the occasion a regal air of formality.
While the magnitude of the occasion had changed, I knew that Isabella had been firm on her desires for simple elegance, rather than an over the top gaudy occasion. Charlie would walk my mate down the aisle and give her away. I was thankful that she would not miss out on having family present at our wedding.
We had chosen to write our own vows. I had spent many hours contemplating and writing my promises and only hoped that my words could accurately convey my emotions. I would give her the moon, if she asked for it. I knew that Isabella understood how I felt for her, expressing my love in words before hundreds of people was another thing entirely.
"You ready, Major?" Peter stuck his head into the room, breaking my reverie. When I did not speak, he crossed the floor and clapped me on my back. I spun, grabbing Peter's hand in a vice grip. Feeling the bones start to give under my fingers, I unclenched my fist and flung his arm away. "Fuck! What was that for?" Peter complained, rubbing his hand.
I scowled but did not respond. My stomach turned violently and I fought the urge to gag. Gritting my teeth, I stalked away. "Ah, I see," Peter nodded knowingly. "You're nervous!"
He patted my shoulder consolingly. "It'll be alright, Major. Bells loves you and wants to be your wife! Why she would want such a surly, ugly, mother fucker is beyond me-"
"Peter..." I warned. I was in no mood to be teased.
"Okay, okay." He held up his hands in surrender. "Really, Major, you have nothing to be nervous about. I have never seen two people more perfectly formed for one another. You were destined for each other. "
Nodding curtly, I steeled my nerves and took a shuddering breath. "There you go," Peter encouraged. "Just think—in less than an hour you will be Mr. Isabella Whitlock! We had better take our places or Charlotte will kill us!" I inspected my image one last time and turning sharply on my heel, accompanied Peter out of the small room in which I had gotten ready.
The dining hall, which had been transformed into a throne room—much to Isabella's chagrin—was filled with rows of delicate white chairs. I sensed, more than saw, that the room was filled to overflowing. The ceiling was hung with hundreds of white paper lanterns in a variety of sizes, all glowing softly. Dozens of large bouquets of fragrant flowers in every shade of white were scattered around the room.
Aro stood on the daïs, the full moon shining through the windows behind. Peter and I marched to the front, climbing the shallow steps to join Aro. Emmett soon joined us on the stage, nodding to me with a smile. "Any time now," he whispered. "I just left the girls."
If my heart still beat, it would be pounding out of my chest. Get a grip, Major, I commanded myself, vainly attempting to calm my mind. Focus on Isabella. Closing my eyes, I recalled the image of the beautiful woman who would soon be my wife. Encouraged, I returned to the present and stood tall, clasping my hands behind my back to prevent myself from fidgeting nervously.
I stared over the gathering of faces, unseeing. My eyes were locked on the double doors at the opposite end of the hall. A string quartet took up their instruments and a delicate melody began. After what seemed to be an interminable wait, the doors were thrown open.
Charlotte stepped into the hall. She wore a long silvery strapless gown and carried a small bouquet of deep red flowers. Peter whistled lowly at her appearance. Once she had made it half way up the aisle, Rosalie began her procession. She was attired in a dress the same color as Charlotte's, though it was a different style. When both women stood atop the daïs, the music swelled, ringing throughout the room.
Isabella floated in on her father's arm. My breath caught in my throat at her beauty, for she looked more stunning than I had ever seen her before. She wore a simple cream gown that shimmered slightly in the moonlight. Her gown was elegantly simple. It had a corset top and off the shoulder cap sleeves, with a delicate, airy skirt that flowed gracefully to the floor. In some ways it reminded me of an updated version of antebellum gowns from my era.
On her up-swept hair, Isabella wore a delicate filigree diamond and ruby crown, the stones designed as blooming flowers. Her ears glittered with dangling earrings and a matching necklace brushed her collarbone. The suite of jewelry matched her engagement ring so well that it looked to be a set. Aro had gifted Isabella with chests of jewels, but until now, she had not worn any of the treasures.
Upon her appearance, the congregation respectfully stood. Isabella and her father walked slowly up the aisle, her eyes trained on me. Time slowed and I waited impatiently for my bride to join me, fighting the urge to run and meet her half way.
At long last, Charlie placed his daughter's hand in mine with a tremulous smile. "Take care of her." He quietly ordered. "I may not be the chief anymore, but I still know where you live." I nodded my understanding and Charlie stepped down, his part in the ceremony completed.
"We are gathered today to witness the union of Isabella, Queen of the free world, Regent of the Volturi, to the illustrious Major Jasper Whitlock." Isabella rolled her eyes at Aro's pompousness and I held in a chuckle. "They have been brought together by providence, their love forged through the fires of venom and their shared sacrifices. Today they desire to formally consummate their mating with the bonds of matrimony. From this point on, their lives will irretrievably merge as one—never to separate as long as they both exist."
Aro turned to me. "Jasper, do you take Isabella as your bonded mate and wife, to love, honor and cherish for all of eternity?"
"I will," I solemnly swore.
With my pronouncement, Aro addressed my Belle. "Isabella, will you promise to take Jasper as your bonded mate and husband, to love, honor and cherish him for all of eternity?"
"I will," she answered, no trace of hesitation in her voice.
Speaking to the congregation Aro announced, "Isabella and Jasper have chosen to write their own vows, which they will now share. Jasper?"
Turning, I met my Belle's shining eyes. She handed her bouquet to Charlotte and took both of my hands. "Isabella," I began, my voice raspy with emotion. Clearing my throat I began again. "Isabella, I believe that there are people who so perfectly compliment one another that there are endless possibilities for them if they apply themselves and are always kind, open, and honest to one another. I know in my heart and my soul that we have that potential and I will do all I can to bring our happiness to fruition."
Isabella smiled at me and squeezed my hands. My heart swelled with love and I pressed on. "From the first time I saw you, I felt a magnificent, electric connection and felt the tendrils of love begin to entwine around my heart, making loving any other impossible. At times I felt as though I were caught up in a fairy-tale. Yet fairy-tales rely on the romantic pattern established to entertain children. As we have experienced, life never plays itself out the way. Instead, it requires great effort and commitment. I promise never to wait around for a happy ending to magically present itself but will daily work to make our lives together prosperous and full of joy."
My Belle's eyes watered and she released my grip to wipe away non-existent tears. "You are the most important person in my life and I will always try to refrain from discounting your opinions, invalidating you, or putting the weight of others' words above yours. I promise to seek truth when tempted by lies, to stay present when I want to turn away and to choose compassion when anger feels easier. I will be faithful to you in all ways and to reserve my heart for you alone. I have never been so filled with the feeling of completion than when I am with you, Isabella, nor so sure that I want another person to share every aspect of my life. Without you I would be incomplete, barren, and lost. Isabella, words cannot encapsulate the depth of my love for you. I ask that you let my actions and devotion for the remainder of our existence convey what the metaphors of language can never express. You are forever the keeper of my heart." Lifting her hand to my lips, I kissed it reverently and sent her all the love and adoration that I could muster.
Isabella's clear voice rang over the hushed crowd, as she began to publicly declare her devotion. "Jasper, I love you with all my heart and soul. You are my friend, my companion, mentor and my beloved. You have touched my heart deeply and I am so excited to spend my existence with you! So today, I wholeheartedly commit myself as your wife and mate. Having you in my life is one of the greatest blessings I have received and I will do all that I can to express this to you through my actions and words."
"I vow to be faithful to you, reserving my heart for you alone. I will make trust and respect the foundation of our marriage, choosing patience and forgiveness when anger is easier. You have shown me what is means to love unconditionally and have accepted me as I am, and for that I am ever grateful. I will accept and respect you as you are and will not try to make you into someone you are not." Her promises made my heart soar. No one has ever accepted me just as I am, not until Isabella. I stood straighter, determined to live up to the faith that my beloved had put in me.
"Jasper, I will share myself with you in a thoughtful, honest way. I promise to listen with open ears and an open heart and will not criticize you for honestly sharing of yourself, regardless of how I feel. I vow to do all I can to meet your needs and make your life a priority in mine. As our lives are more intertwined, your happiness will bring me joy and your sorrow will be as my own. When exhaustion, complacency, and the mundane seep into the routine of life, I promise to tend our relationship so that it flourishes, daily bringing renewal and growth. Whatever we face, we will do it together and I will comfort you, confide in you and grow with you all the days of my life. With all that I am, this I promise you." Isabella smiled joyously and sent me her all-consuming love. I longed to sweep her off her feet and kiss her, but Aro coughed quietly, turning our attention back to him.
"The rings, please." Peter handed Aro the wedding band that I had made and I was surprised when Charlotte also presented a ring. Raising my eyebrows in silent question, Isabella smirked in reply. When did she get me a ring? I wondered momentarily before my attention was once again required.
Aro handed me the delicate band, instructing me to place it on Isabella's finger. "Please repeat after me. 'Isabella, I love you, and honor you with this ring, as a symbol between us of these vows; may it forever remind me of these vows I have given you today.'" Sliding the circle over her knuckle I recited the words.
Isabella then took the second band from Aro and slid it onto my finger. It was a plain platinum band set flush with a tiny ruby. "Jasper, I love you, and honor you with this ring, as a symbol between us of these vows; may it forever remind me of these vows I have given you today."
Smiling indulgently, Aro raised his hands over our heads as though issuing a blessing. "Now that Jasper and Isabella have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the giving and receiving of rings, I pronounce that they are husband and wife. They are no longer two, but one. Therefore, see that no one ever divides or discourages those whom have joined together."
Aro addressed me with a smirk. "Major, you may now kiss your bride." I didn't need to be told twice. Pulling my wife—My wife!—into my embrace I kissed her, pouring my soul into the act. Cheers and thunderous applause went up, but I only had eyes for my Belle.
Though I wanted nothing more than to have my wife all to myself, we were ushered into the lobby for the reception. Dozens of small, round tables had been set up around an open space for dancing. Each was laden with goblets and crystal decanters of blood. Flowers were scattered on every available surface and their delicate scent filled the air. The lights had been turned down, allowing the moonlight bathe the room in a silvery glow.
The string quartet that had played for the ceremony was setting up and tuning their instruments. When the music began, I led Isabella out onto the dance floor to enthusiastic applause. We twirled and swayed to the melody, unaware of anyone else. As the song ended, I captured Isabella's lips with mine.
Several men, including Peter, Emmett and Aro, requested dances with the bride. Though I wished to refuse, I could not deny Isabella any pleasure and passed her off to her friends, family and mentor. Watching her from the shadows, I reveled in the fact that at the end of the night we would be alone and I would not need to share her with anyone.
Unfortunately, we were not going on a honeymoon right away—Isabella was just getting comfortable handling her responsibilities and didn't want to lose her stride. Therefore, after hours of dancing, countless toasts and congratulations we finally escaped into the night. The gleeful atmosphere of the party grew fainter as we left the revelers behind.
Meandering back towards our home, I glorified in the fact that this incredible woman had chosen me. What have I done to be so blessed? I wondered in awe. I will spend my life showing her how much she means to me.
Stopping on the front steps, I turned to my beautiful wife. The moonlight illuminated my wife's face, highlighting "Forever, Isabella," I growled. "You are mine and I am yours. Forever."
"Yes," she breathed huskily. "For all of eternity. I love you." Sweeping my Belle off of her feet, I carried her over the threshold and into our future.
A/N: So what did you all think? Did you like their wedding? I wanted to finish on a happy note, and it seemed like a natural place to end—especially if I ever end up doing a sequel.
Thank you everyone for sticking with me and following the story. It's been an incredible journey. I really appreciate all of the feedback and encouragement! I couldn't have asked for more faithful and supportive readers—you all really made this process an incredible experience for me. I hope you all enjoyed reading the story as much as I did writing it! Until next time! :-)