Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or anything else associated with either the books or the movies, the only things I do take credit for are any mistakes and Ocs ;p

AN: Well its taken two and a half years, give or take, but we've finally reached the end guys and I want to thank you all for reading and persevering through my hellishly erratic updates, I know its ridiculous and frustrating waiting months at a time for an update but I can't help it anymore than you can and I just hope that the read has been worth your amazing patience. Alright then, its time for the final final chapter, everyone ready?.

Chapter Forty Three, Part Two. Bella's POV.

"I apologise for not meeting you in the mountains like I said I would. It was rude of me..." Alexia's velvet smooth drawl seemed to suck the air out of the Volturi's vast throne room, I couldn't tell if she was sincere or not but it didn't really matter either way.

There had been no effort to make the chamber comfortable for humans, no insulation meant that the air was almost dangerously wintry, there was a suspicious looking, pentagon-shaped grate in the precise middle of the stone floor and I couldn't define where the bright light filtering into the room came from. If I had a heartbeat, it would be pounding in my ears as I forced myself to stride into the spectacular marble chamber, toward the prominent dais, on unsteady legs.

"...But as you can see, I got a little distracted..." The tall platinum blonde female casually gestured with a flick of her graceful magnolia pale hand toward the bottom of a dais that held three marble thrones, the lone furnishings in the room, which were elevated four feet off the cold white floor. Two steep stone steps wrapped around the upraised platform and sprawled out at the bottom of those stairs was a decapitated body, strewn on its stomach and dressed in a black silk suit. The head was strangely absent, so I couldn't tell who had been on the receiving end of Alexia's vicious temper, given that Aro was absent.

Perched up on the dais, the most elaborate throne was set a pace in front of the other two making it look as though one throne was flanked by the others. Alexia looked right at home sitting on, what I assumed had been, Aro's throne with her impossibly long legs crossed at the knee just as I presumed the lifeless corpse at the Sicarri's feet was the dead vampire king. Sat on the other thrones to either side and slightly behind Alexia were the other two Sicarri I'd seen at Denali Mansion;the buxom attractive redhead who never seemed to glance away from my daughter's mate for very long and the huge male with a cruel face and more muscles than the hulk. The two appeared completely at ease, even bored, as my family cautiously edged into the Throne Room, but they didn't possess the same air of cool confidence, omnipotent authority and deadly lethality that Alexia exuded from every pore. Lingering in front of the dais on his feet was the much smaller Sicarri male. There was something different about him and it wasn't just the five thousand dollar, three piece, charcoal grey suit he was wearing in comparison to the formfitting black leather the others were draped in, there was a definite softness about him that I could spend the rest of my life searching for in the other three but would never find.

Where are Dana and Soren?.

"...I don't suppose you have a light?" Alexia's full lips tilted into a lazy smirk as she leaned back one the throne. I bit the inside of my cheek while turning my attention inwardly and began searching for the hereditary Fae gift swirling potently at my core, with an ease gained from my training with Akasha, I drew a stream of aerated fire forward from where it thrived immeasurably inside me. My venom felt like it was set alight as my power rapidly raised its head, insistently pressing against the underside of my skin and begging to be released. I centred my focus on Aro's mutilated body which instantly erupted in roaring flames so intensely hot they flashed pale blue. The corpse turned to a bed of desiccated grey ash in an instant. Even though he'd intended to enslave me and those I love I felt an odd empathy for the dead vampire, I cast the feeling aside, he didn't deserve my sympathy and what did it matter now when he was well and truly gone?.

"Where are the rest of the Volturi?" I dragged my eyes away from Aro's remains and stared up at Alexia.

Ashley had lost the fight with sleep as we moved through the mile-long tunnels that made up the underground sections of the compound and now slumped against my shoulder. I narrowly resisted the urge to turn and deprive Alexia a viewing of my oblivious daughter as the Sicarri's black eyes, darker than obsidian and colder than ice, settled on the precious bundle I held in my arms. Something akin to warmth sparked in Alexia's eyes, but that flare of life was soon lost in that overwhelming blackness, it was like watching a fire being rapidly stamped out. Rosalie stiffened fearfully beside me. I'd had to point blank order my vampire and shifter siblings to stay close to the door in case things somehow turned ugly and we needed a quick exit, they would stand no chance against a Sicarri and I cared too much for them to recklessly place themselves in harm's way, though Rosalie had stubbornly refused to be separated from my side.

Alexia waved her hand uninterestedly "Some have left. Some are barricaded in their rooms. I killed a few who seemed oddly resistant against the idea of losing their limp dick 'master', but don't worry your sentimental little head about it, I made their deaths quick. Mostly because I don't actually have a problem with vampires even if they are one of the most pathetic races around. A certain two among you won't be so lucky though" Alexia's lethally sharp fangs lanced down into her mouth as she smirked maliciously over my shoulder at Akasha and Elena.

I couldn't fathom why she wasn't centred on Ashley. I would've been. I was always aware of Rosalie's presence. I could always sense where my mate was and how she was feeling. We were two halves of the same whole. Which could only mean it was going to be one hell of a battle between Alexia's instincts as a mated female and her deep-seated hatred.

"You look confused Ash..." Alexia's smooth drawl lowered into an abrasive hiss as she leaned forward on the throne. The Sicarri glanced at me, the pointed tips of her pearl white fangs peaked over her perfect pink lower lip, before she looked back at Akasha and Elena standing behind me. I could feel befuddled eyes glued to my back, but I couldn't make myself look behind at my biological parents.

"...Don't tell me. Bella here made up some shit about me revealing all about the Áthrafstos and now you're wondering if we can be friends again, that maybe you can rehabilitate me and make me good again. That was naughty Bella, very naughty indeed. But don't feel too bad about it, I certainly wouldn't, mummy dearest has a lot of equally risqué secrets she hasn't told you or even her bitch for that matter." Alexia smiled coldly at the protective growl that resounded in Akasha's chest. The mix of guilt and shame swarming through me was like battery acid being poured into my skull, it was killing me, but I had to stay focused.

I cocked my head and shared a frown with Rosalie. As Akasha's childhood best friend it was obvious Alexia knew my biological mother better than most, but was she just trying to fuck with our heads or was she actually hinting at something?. She had to be playing with us, like a cat toys with a cornered and wounded mouse, that was why she didn't have Dana and Soren standing with her, she wanted to hurt Akasha and Elena as much as she possibly could before she went for a killing stroke and delaying the moment was only going to make it worse.

"Too bad she won't be able to tell you herself. I hardly think she would anyway..." Unsurprisingly Alexia was brutally unapologetic about her deadly intentions.

"...Now then, before I finally take my vengeance, there is something you should know my old friend, someone you should meet before I kill you...Soren..." Alexia clicked her fingers, sending a clear ringing sound through the vast throne room like a falling water drop echoes through a cave. The tall raven haired Sicarri female appeared out of nowhere, and now stood in between the dais and me. She moved with such practised stealth that the air didn't even ripple so I couldn't say from what direction Dana's mate approached. Soren inclined her head toward me slightly, a gesture I mirrored.

"Akasha, meet your daughter in law; Soren of House Dikaiosyni" Alexia rested her hands on the armrests on the throne and smiled with false pleasantness, a tilt of her full lips that did nothing to mask the vindictive pleasure she was getting out of this.

"What are you talking about Lexi?" Akasha's voice was little more than a broken whisper. Alexia didn't react to the use of her childhood nickname at all, either with anger or nostalgia.

"I'm talking about Dana leading you to believe she was murdered all those years ago when in actuality she has been living it up in my Homeland with Soren, her mate, I imagine they'll be popping out a few kids soon" Alexia smiled wolfishly, baring her fangs and perfect white teeth. Soren tensed in front of the dais like she was expecting to be attacked.

"You're lying...D-Dana...Dana is dead" Akasha whispered confoundedly. Sounding strained like she was being crushed by some unseen force. I grimaced sympathetically, hearing the agony in her voice.

"No. No I'm not mama" I whirled around on my boot heel, finding Dana suddenly standing among my family of vampires and shifters and staring at our mother with wistful neon blue eyes. Akasha didn't waste any time trying to discern if Dana was actually there or if she was a ghost. The taller Fae forcefully yanked Dana into her arms and hugged her tightly to her chest before she pulled Elena into the tender embrace. Three distinct loud purrs rumbled to life. I wonder if I've ruined my chances of ever being part of that. As if she were reading my mind, Rosalie pressed into my side, reminding me that I had my own family, I didn't need anything more than my mate and our twins. They were my life.

"How fucking touching" Alexia drawled with a roll of her soulless dark eyes, the two Sicarri sat flanking her chuckled sinisterly. It was almost as though the Sicarri Prima was making a point of not looking at Ashley and purposefully goading Akasha, like she knew she wouldn't be able to inflict violence on anyone when her young mate was near, guess I'm not the only one with a plan.

"You're alive. How can that be?" Elena whispered as she stroked Dana's back. Akasha glared murderously over Dana's shoulder at Soren, growling a challenge. Dana backed away from them, passing me and Rosalie with a nod of acknowledgement, until she was in front of Soren, the raven haired female possessively wrapped her arms around Dana's trim waist and drew my sister back against her ample chest. The growl resounding in Akasha's chest rose several octaves with her increasing aggression. If Dana wasn't in Soren's arms, acting as a sort of buffer, Akasha would've been across the throne room instantly looking for a fight.

"Its just as the Prima said. Please believe me when I say it wasn't an easy decision to make. I've missed you both everyday but I need to be with my mate" Dana stared at Akasha, silently begging our biological mother to understand.

"'Prima?'. By the Gods what have you done to my daughter Alexia?!" Akasha glared at the Sicarri, the elder Fae was growing angrier by the nanosecond, and soon all thoughts of a peaceful stalemate would vanish. Unless I did something.I started nuzzling the top of Ashley's blonde head insistently. I needed the young Fae awake to grab Alexia's attention, which the pale blonde obstinately kept averted from my daughter. I whispered into Ashley's little ear, incoherent mumblings to anyone else except Rosalie who pressed tightly into my side with Lucas in her arms. Together my mate and I urged our first-born young to wake from slumber.

"Well it appears I've swayed Dana's loyalties by allowing her to join the Sicarri family, or maybe it was Soren's skills in the boudoir, either way I don't think she is your little girl anymore..." Alexia shrugged dismissively.

Akasha's eyes darkened, inky darkness began to stain the whites of her eyes, she was going to turn soon. Panic erupted in my chest as I continued to try and wake Ashley before a fight broke out. Dana was staring at me, desperation gleaming in her suddenly dark eyes. Rosalie purred into my ear, trying to ease my anxiety. Fuck, when did Ashley become such a heavy sleeper?.

"...Am I upsetting you Ash?. I hope so, you fight better when you're angry and I want to savour the moment I end your life. But maybe I'm not giving you enough of an incentive huh, is that it?. Okay, maybe I should tell your adoring little broodmare about your 'liaisons' with Jodelle before you met her. Tell me Elena, does the name Greyella mean anything to you?, it should, don't you think Ash?" Alexia arched a perfect blonde eyebrow expectantly.

That was it. Akasha attacked before I could even ask myself what the Sicarri Prima was talking about. But as Akasha leapt through the air, midnight black eyes set attentively on her former friend's jugular, Alexia regally rose up from the throne and crouched low, waiting for my biological mother to come within arm's length. A single powerful back-handed slap, that sounded like a lightning strike when it connected, sent Akasha careening backwards through the air for several dozen feet before she crashed to the floor. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, Akasha appeared to be unconscious, this wasn't meant to be happening.

"Everyone get out!.." I shouted at my frozen family toward the back of throne room, who until this moment had watched everything unfolding in stoic silence. Victoria cocked her head, looking like she wanted to argue, and heatedly.

"...Now" I snapped. Victoria ushered the vampires and shifters out of the Volturi's chamber, sensing that it was best for them to get out of the way given that they had no real way of fighting a Sicarri.

"Mama..." Dana tensed to move, to check on our mother, but Soren's arms were a steel cage that she couldn't escape and I could understand why Soren wouldn't let Dana go; anyone who got in the way of Alexia and Akasha was going to end up dead.

"I've waited so long for this moment" Alexia descended the dais's steps slowly as if she were committing every little action to memory. I was standing right in front of her, holding her mate, but she didn't seem to see us. Her raging hatred for Akasha was forcing her instincts as a mated female into a corner.It was now or never. Steeling my nerve I stepped in front of Alexia, the much taller woman frowned down at me as if she didn't know where I'd come from. The glacial alien quality to her dark eyes sent shivers slithering up and down my spine.

"You don't have to kill her" I said slowly. Ashley finally awoke with a little yawn and immediately all of Alexia's undivided attention was focused solely on the little Fae in my arms. Ashley cooed when she noticed her older mate, my daughter gazed up at Alexia with big soulful eyes and reached for the Sicarri instantly, trustingly. Tender warmth once again sparked in Alexia's eyes only this time it wasn't extinguished by her rage.

"Yes I do. I promised Jodelle that I would avenge her, its a vow I would keep even if the Áthrafstos didn't exist, and I will enjoy every moment of it. Now stand aside, I don't want to hurt either of you" Even as she spoke Alexia lifted her elegant hand and hesitantly let Ashley's tiny hand latch onto her long slender forefinger. A primal rumbling sound, something part way between a growl and a purr, passed through the Sicarri's full lips at the contact with her mate.

"Ashley needs peace between us all, peace we can only have if you destroy the Áthrafstos..." Ashley was openly and loudly purring as they stared back at each other, drinking in the sight of each other. I waited, on edge, as Ashley cooed up at Alexia and smiled widely. Alexia cocked her head, the fall of her long glossy blonde braid fell over one leather clad shoulder, she wore a small but no less bright smile of her own. I don't think she has ever appeared so compassionate before, so capable of love, so human.

"...She needs us all in her life, its the only way she can be happy. You want that for her don't you?"

"She doesn't need them" Alexia insisted with a silent aggressive snarl aimed at my biological parents. Akasha still hadn't climbed back to her feet from the force of Alexia's slap and Elena and Rosalie were crouched over the fallen Fae, even Lucas was reaching out from my mate's arms for Akasha. Ashley whimpered in distress, probably sensing the change in her own mate's demeanour, instantly Alexia comfortingly covered my daughter's back with her snow pale hand and Ashley began to purr louder in response, to the extent that her little body was vibrating in my arms. My daughter was so happy so have Alexia near her.

"But she does, they're her grandparents. You don't have to be friends with Akasha, you don't have to like her or forgive her, but you can't kill her either. Don't you think its time you put your hate to rest?, its what's best for Ashley" Alexia's painfully perfect face twisted into an agonised mask of confused torment, two fundamental parts of her were at war inside her head and they were evenly matched in strength. A slow husky growl of frustration built in the back of Alexia's throat as Ashley continued to hold onto her forefinger, her fangs grew longer in response to the volatile emotions battling inside her. I swallowed the lump of nervousness clogging my throat like charred soot but my stomach kept churning violently.

"How about we compromise?. You take your mate and your young and you wait outside. I'll kill them and then we'll talk peace terms." Alexia was transfixed with Ashley, the Sicarri Prima couldn't seem to tear her dark eyes away from her mate. Behind Alexia on one of the three thrones the redheaded female sat up straight, alarmed.

"You cannot seriously be contemplating this Lex!. You are the Prima!. Artemis' cannot turn your back on a hunt!..." The other Sicarri femaleinsisted.

"...You swore you would destroy the Fae. You swore before your Custodia. Are you really going to dishonour our venerated Goddess!" She was jealous, I scowled at the realisation, clearly this chick wanted Alexia and unfortunately for me she knew just how to play on the Sicarri's values.

"My Custodia begged me not to give my vow and why would Artemis allow fate to give me a Fae as a mate if she didn't intend for this to happen?" Alexia's perfectly shaped brows drew down into a deeply etched glower.

She looked unsteady on her feet all of a sudden, but I guess that will happen when you're suddenly made to question every aspect of your life for the past ten thousand years. I nearly fell flat on my ass in shock when Alexia met my gaze and I saw the colour of her eyes was starting to change, the soulless obsidian was melting away from her pupils outward, her eyes were turning the colour of a shimmering diamond shinning in sunlight. They were still a disarming sight to behold, and with stunningly frightening eyes like that she would never be mistaken as human, but I preferred this gleaming colourlessness to the previous frozen black for some reason. The redhead hissed and came to her feet in a graceful rush while the broad male beside her looked on with a blank expression.

"You are royalty for fuck sake!. Your late mother would never approve of you tainting your noble bloodlines, she would be disgusted with you for even thinking of watering down your power. Your young must be born of a Sicarri with a prestigious lineage to rival your own!. Think about what you are doing" The redhead implored.

So clearly the other Sicarri wanted to be Alexia's baby mama. I could barely breathe as I watched Alexia lift her head and slightly withdraw her elegant hand from Ashley. The shocking diamond white colour trying to manifest itself in her eyes began to recede slowly and the darkness moved to reclaim its stolen territory.

Ashley cooed softly and desperately reached for Alexia again but the Prima wouldn't or couldn't let Ashley touch her. Alexia began to pace furiously between me and dais, she reminded me of a wild tigress new to confinement, she growled and snarled to herself, rapidly muttering in a foreign language under her breath. Alexia lifted her hand and squeezed her temples as though she were suffering from a migraine. Ashley squirmed in my arms, she wanted Alexia. I glanced over my shoulder, noticing Akasha was struggling onto her knees and she looked groggy as hell. Rosalie was darting her attention between me, Ashley and Alexia, my mate's lithe muscles were coiled tightly with tension. I offered her a tiny reassuring smile, even if my confidence in a happy ending was slightly shaken, I wasn't about to let it show. Alexia dropped her hand away from her throbbing temples and, almost absentmindedly, began to slowly examine the unmissable mating mark on her hand, the elaborate twists and swirls forming the black glyph that stretched vertically from her elegant thumb knuckle down to her slender wrist. She stared for a moment before her hand curled into a tight fist, her eyes had completely reverted to that frosty black, the cold, calculated look she suddenly shot Akasha as my biological mother staggered to her feet, like a newborn deer, could've struck fear into the heart of a true sociopath.

"Lyssandra..." Alexia's velvet smooth voice had a renewed edge. Up on the marble dais, the redhead, Lyssandra, smirked with deep satisfaction.

"...Take Peyral and find him a Volturi to kill. And make sure it gets done this time. Tonight my House honours Artemis" Lyssandra grinned widely and descended the dais, she grabbed Peyral by his upper arm and roughly started dragging the blonde male toward the other end of the throne room and the exit.

"Lexi!, I can't do it!. You know I can't kill anyone!." Peyral shouted desperately, trying in vain to break the redhead's crushing hold on him.

"Then your weakness will be your undoing..." Alexia snapped bluntly "...I'm done making excuses for you little brother"

I genuinely thought the sudden coldness wrapping around me was a result of the biting chill in the Sicarri's voice as she threatened to murder her own brother for no good reason. But abruptly thick wisps of grey vapour were weaving their way through the chamber, seeming to invade the throne room from everywhere and nowhere all at once, and wrapping us all up in a wintry blanket that I felt deep in my bones though I was supposed to be immune to such things.

"What is happening?" I frowned, protectively tightening my hold on Ashley as I slowly turned in a circle. The smoky wisps were accumulating, writhing and slithering into each other like snakes until the entire room was consumed in a blinding mist that masked everyone's scent. To make things worse I could barely see past my nose, everything was white and bouffant. I stiffened and tensed to attack when I felt a restraining hand on my shoulder.

"Magic..." Alexia growled "...There is a Mage in the compound. Aro must have called on their kind to enslave you when you arrived."

"Rosalie" Panic roared to life in my chest, I couldn't see my mate or my son even though I knew they were near. I started forward in a terrified rush, only to find myself jerked to a stop before I could even take a step.

"Are you stupid?. Don't fucking move and stay close to me..." Alexia forcefully yanked me around to face her, but with the thick vapour filling the room like a fog her perfect facial features were hard to make out. I growled up at her aggressively regardless, I needed to get to my mate, I needed to protect her if there was a threat to her and no one was going to stop me.

"...I know how to hunt Mages you silly girl, now do as I tell you and shut up" Alexia growled back at me, making me feel like a fluffy newborn kitten hissing up at a lioness.

Ashley began to whine into my shoulder, I stroked her little back soothingly and Alexia made a soft consoling noise in the back of her throat. There was a sudden rustling to the left, behind me, and a loud shout cut through the mist that hid everyone else from view before everything suddenly went quiet again. I struggled against Alexia's hard grip on my shoulder, an urgent burning need to return to my mate consumed me. I was acutely aware of Rosalie nearby and I could feel her fear like it was my own, making me feel sick, I needed her in my arms to know she was safe. I didn't like what was happening one bit. The Sicarri Prima closed her dark eyes calmly, like she was meditating, as she effortlessly kept me rooted in place with one hand. I thought about elbowing her in the gut to loosen her grip, but with Ashley in my arms I didn't have the leverage required and she probably wouldn't even feel it. Fucking Amazon. I thought about begging her to let me go to Rosalie, but I seriously doubt she'd even hear me and she seemed to think staying silent would help the situation anyway. Suddenly Alexia's eyes flew open, focused and glinting with deadly purpose, she melded into the heavy grey fog, moving so swiftly even I couldn't see her, she just disappeared in the blink of an eye. I instantly whirled and ran toward the centre of the throne room, where I knew Akasha, Elena and Rosalie were while cradling Ashley tightly to my chest. Rosalie's warmth was a unique beacon to me that I locked onto and strode toward. I cut through the blinding fog until I could see them, Elena and Akasha were holding both of Rosalie's slender shoulders, restraining her, while she held Lucas in her arms. I crushed my mate's perfect full lips under mine in a searing kiss, aware of the twins gurgling to each other, my eyes fluttered shut as Rosalie's firm soft lips pressed back into mine. She was safe. I heaved a huge sigh of relieve when we drew apart slightly.

"You can let go of me now" Rosalie said calmly to Akasha and Elena.

A loud enraged roar erupted, it was so deafening I couldn't even define where it originated from, it was a murderous yet majestic re-echoing sound. Alexia. Ashley whimpered and squirmed furiously in my arms. Suddenly the fog began to disperse, it was like watching water drain from a bath tub, as a single flat plane the vapour lowered until it dissolved through the floor, leaving the marble under our feet damp. The massive twelve foot doors to the throne room were hanging open like someone had torn them apart, I assumed Alexia, as she went after the Mage. Glancing around, I found Dana and Soren holding each other in front of the dais and purring for each other, the huge Sicarri male was crouched aggressively in front of throne he'd been sitting on with his large fangs bared.

"Prima!" Lyssandra yelled urgently. I glanced over Rosalie's shoulder, Alexia was suddenly sauntering back into the throne room wearing a wholly satisfied smirk, she held a severed head in her hand, her long fingers buried in a fall of long lank grey hair; it was a male Mage, and thick crimson blood was dripping down from the severed stump of a neck, leaving a spattered trail along the marble floor. Alexia's slaked expression twisted into something unreadable, she dropped the Mage's head and flashed across the chamber to crouch at Lyssandra's side. With their backs facing us I had to squint to make out what the two females were hunched over.

"Oh no" I whispered softly. The smaller male, Alexia's brother, was sprawled out on the marble floor with the Sicarri Prima and the redhead huddled over him, he wasn't moving or talking. Dread hit me low in my stomach.

"What happened?" Alexia demanded coldly, her voice was like rich velvet rubbed the wrong way, as she reached out a rock-steady hand to closed her brother's sightless eyes. I nearly recoiled when the male Sicarri's relatively muscular body erupted in a brilliant flash of white light, producing a gust of silvery dust that fluttered to the floor lazily, when the remains of the body settled on the ground Alexia reverently gathered something from the bed of bright particles and tucked it in her leather jacket pocket. Given the angle of her crouched body I couldn't make out what the Sicarri Prima had just pocketed but I could tell from the way she handled it that it was important to her.

"She killed him" Lyssandra threw an accusing glance at Akasha. I was frozen in place with the sudden shock washing over me, the shout I'd heard when Alexia had prevented me from going to Rosalie, that must have been when the small male had been killed. Alexia turned her head slowly, she regally straightened out of her effortless crouch, and she levelled an Arctic stare on my biological mother.

"I swear I didn't touch him!. You know me Lexi, I would never do something to hurt you nor would I take the life of an innocent!" Akasha swore fervently. A deadly growl rumbled in Alexia's chest, she bared her long and lethally sharp fangs aggressively as her muscles coiled for an attack. I looked into Rosalie's eyes, silently asking my mate if there was any truth to Lyssandra's accusation, Rosalie had been standing with Akasha and Elena, my mate would know what happened and I would believe whatever she told me. Something in Rosalie's eyes told me that there was more than just one simple answer.

"You hurt me when you betrayed Jodelle and she was an innocent!. Your word means nothing to me, especially over that of my Sicarri!" Alexia roared, dark eyes flashing. Ashley started to cry into my shoulder, abject heaving sounds of misery that snagged Alexia's attention and quietened the aggressive snarls falling from the Sicarri's sculpted lips. I crooned soothingly to my daughter as she tightly clutched at my shoulders.

"She is lying to you!, how do you know Lyssandra didn't kill him!, she was standing right beside him!" Akasha barked. I could tell she was desperate for Alexia to believe her, I just didn't see it happening.

"Close enough to see you kill him!..." Lyssandra hissed exigently, baring her fangs as she came to her feet beside Alexia. The redhead glanced up at my daughter's mate.

"...You know I would never betray you Prima" The shorter Siccari touched her hand to Alexia's arm with such comfortably familiarity, I couldn't help but wonder if they were actually lovers, if that was the reason for Alexia's trust in the other female and why Lyssandra was so jealous of Alexia's connection with Ashley.

"Lyssandra knows the meaning of the word, loyalty..." Alexia pulled her arm free from Lyssandra's hold and glared incisively at Akasha.

"...Something you forgot when you were out fucking your whore while Jodie was home planning your wedding!..." Alexia growled. The front of my shirt was soon damp with Ashley's tears as my daughter wept. Alexia's eyes darted between Akasha and Ashley, a desire to kill, to avenge and an instinctive need to protect clashed in her eyes. She threw her head back and an animalistic roar of sheer frustration exploded from deep in Alexia's chest, a furious blaring sound that made the air tremble and ground shake.

"...I'm going to make you rue the day you were born for this Akasha!, the pitiful remnants of your race will suffer endlessly for what you have done this day and I'll leave their cold carcasses for you to find when I've butchered them all. Before I am finished you will be screaming apologies for everything you have done and you will beg me to kill you." Alexia swore fervently as she stared at Ashley, a doleful gaze filled with longing, before her eyes hardened. In unison the Sicarri, including Dana,vanished and the only thing I could hear was Ashley's crestfallen cries.

"Akasha stepped away for a moment after the Mage cast his enchantment. It couldn't have been for more than a few seconds but she didn't say why and I couldn't see anything" Rosalie sighed shakily.

We were holed up in one of the numerous, luxuriously furnished, chambers that the compound provided. I held Rosalie from behind, my arms curled around her slender waist while her hands resting on top of mine, I nuzzled the mating mark gracing her beautiful neck while we stood in front of a tapestry, depicting the stunning City of Volterra, hanging from the stone wall next to the oversized bed. Personally I found the room to be cold and impersonal. Victoria and Esme had the twins in an antechamber a little ways down the hall while Rosalie and I discussed what had just happened. The distance did nothing to dampen the sounds of Ashley's inconsolable screams, the sound of her pain and my mate's misery were two rusty knives buried in my heart, making it hard to breathe, to move, to think.

"We're Fae and Alexia's brother didn't strike me as someone who knew how to protect himself. It wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds..." I muttered, inhaling her scent deep into my lungs as I held her tight against my chest. Rosalie felt so good in my arms, things hadn't played out the way I'd wanted but I would thank the Gods every day for the rest of my life for keeping her and the twins and the rest of the family safe today.

"...But I don't believe she did it"

"No?" Rosalie tilted her head back to look at me.

"No, she might have been angry and upset about Dana but she had nothing to gain from killing Alexia's brother. It doesn't make sense at all" Rosalie turned in my arms and wrapped her arms around my lean waist. I took a deep breath when I felt the warm perfection of her luscious body press into mine, for the longest time we just stood there in the chamber, holding each other.

"She was all Fae for a minute there Bella. When you turned like that after I told you what Royce King did to me I found you stalking harmless humans, now I know you'd never hurt a human without just cause, but you weren't yourself and if I hadn't gotten to you in time, who knows what you would've done out of pure instinct and Akasha is so much older, more in tune with her inner animal than we are"

"Do you think she did it?" I pulled her closer and lowered my head to rest my forehead against her warm shoulder rather than let the memory of that night consume me again.

"I'm saying its not implausible but I honestly don't know for sure. You've got to talk to her about it..." I shivered when she tenderly nipped at my exposed neck with her flawless white teeth.

"...And trust your own judgement, its all any of us can do when it comes down to stuff like this"

I scoffed to myself. Tilting my head and pressing a kiss to the crook of her neck. I thought coming here and reasoning with Alexia would have a halfway decent ending for us, that was my call and it blew up in my face.

"And what if I'm wrong?. I was wrong in thinking Alexia could be reasoned with. I was probably wrong in keep my mouth shut about Dana..."

"They were incredibly hard decisions to make and you should never have been put under that kind of pressure, I should have shouldered more of it with you" Rosalie stroked my back soothingly.

"Are you kidding?, you were right there with me the whole time, looking after the twins and keeping me sane..." I lifted my head up off her shoulder to trace the exquisite contours of her beautiful face. My love. I lifted my hands to cup her jaw tenderly, I gently smoothed the pads of my thumbs along the ridges of Rosalie's high cheekbones, angled my head and lightly pressed my lips to hers. Her fingers pressed firmly into my hips as we kissed slowly, moving our lips together in sweet tandem, that swiftly made my skin tingle with awareness and the first traces of arousal swirling low in my stomach. I flick the tip of my tongue over my mate's warm lips, hearing her moan low in her throat as she reached down and cupped my ass. I growled against her soft mouth as our kiss grew fevered. Her fingers dug into the taut muscles of my backside, we rolled our hips together, while I trailed the fingertips of my right hand down the graceful column of her neck, heading downward to the ample creamy swells of her breasts, when there was a curt knock on the door of the chamber.

"...Well that is just fucking rude" I snarl frustratedly against Rosalie's intoxicating mouth as I pulled away from her slightly. My mate pressed our foreheads together and laughed huskily.

"Technically its considered rude when they don't knock" Rosalie murmured with a wry smile. I exhaled hard, I wanted inside my mate, I wanted to pleasure her, worship her flawless body like she deserved and drive away the memories of the day.

"Whatever..." I growled. Suddenly a loud shriek ripped through the air, putting both our arousals on ice, it was Ashley screaming. I took Rosalie's hand in mine and guided her across the chamber, I pulled open the heavy oak door to find Caius, Marcus and a tall blonde woman I'd never seen before standing out in the wide marble hallway.

"Can it wait?" I grumbled to the three vampires as I stepped out into the corridor with Rosalie. My distraught daughter needed my mate and I needed to clear things up with Akasha.

"We won't keep you long..." Caius murmured gently. Rosalie tucked herself into my side, I slipped my arm around her tiny waist and held her close while nodding to the pale haired vampire.

"...We've all been talking, us three and the remaining guards, and we want you to take the Throne"

"Hold up. I know there is that whole prophecy thing but if there is one thing I've learned from today, its that I'm not leadership material. You need someone older with experience, Christ, you two have been jointly ruling the vampire race for thousands of years, I think you're fully qualified for the job so good luck with it"

"Make us your advisors then, we'd be happy to help you" Marcus said in that impassive tone of his.

"You would make a better leader than we ever did. The entire race hates and mistrusts me and for a good reason. Marcus isn't decisive enough to govern on his own...We are obsolete" Caius argued.

"Well what about you?" I tilted my head at the unknown blonde.

"Bella this is Sulpicia, sister to Athenodora and Didyme. Aro forced her to marry him and she has been his prisoner here ever since" Marcus introduced calmly. I smiled tightly in greeting.

"I have spent two thousand years locked in this compound, I don't want to spend a moment longer down here" Sulpicia stated with a heavy sigh.

"So build another Capital city above ground, it doesn't have to be here" I argued, tightening my arm around Rosalie's waist.

"Bella, we are offering you the throne, whether you take it or not is up to you, but its yours if you should decide the answer is yes" Marcus tucked his hands into the front pockets of his silk slacks.

"We'll give you time to mull it over. But you should keep something in mind, with no official leader on the Volturi Throne to safeguard our laws and keep order, there is no deterrent to those vampires who would quite happily massacre entire cities to assuage their blood-lust, the Romanians for instance, there will be no one to settle disputes over territorial borders which will lead to the creation of Newborn armies. There will be anarchy on every continent inside a week once the rest of the race hears of Aro's death and might I remind you that several Volturi guards fled the compound when he died so rest assured that news is already spreading" Caius smirked slyly. The son of bitch knew I'd do anything to avoid that kind of chaos and he was using it against me.

"And remember that you still need to destroy the Binding Stone. If you take the Throne you will be internationally respected as Queen of all Vampires, the position will give you a chance to forge alliances with other supernatural races and their monarchies, which will make it a great deal easier to track down the serving families of Mage-kind. That should be your first step" Sulpicia added swiftly. I felt Rosalie begin to stroke my back between my shoulder blades soothingly and she tucked herself tighter into my right side as I heaved a sigh of annoyance. Did they have to be so fucking reasonable and sly when I was trying to turn down their offer?. What good would I be as a Queen?, when I was still working out how to be the best possible mate and mother I could be?.

"What about you Marcus?, you got a pretty speech to throw at me?" I arched an eyebrow quizzically.

"I think you seriously underestimate yourself but no one can force you to assume command, the choice is yours" Marcus shrugged. All three of them had a different approach to it, but they were making their point very clear; it was me or anarchy.

"Just give me time to think about it, will you?. I've got a lot on my mind right now" I sighed.

"Of course" Sulpicia grabbed a fistful of both male vampire's silk suit jackets and dragged them down the hall.

I shook my head slowly as I watched them go. Where did they get off ambushing me like that?, and when things were running just so smoothly. I lifted my free hand and pinched the bridge of my nose, knowing I was being unfair, those three had shared so many bad memories here, losing their mates and sisters, being forced to bow and scrape to Aro for two thousand years. I guess I couldn't blame them for wanting an out, but why did that 'out' have to be me?, there were others far more eligible for the job; Jane, Chelsea, hell Victoria would make a badass Vampire Queen and Tanya...Well she might be a clown but everyone would love and respect her her. That being said, why did it have to be a 'Queen', personally I think Eleazar would make a great King, he is wise, kind and he values everyone around him.

"Jesus, does it ever stop?..." Rosalie brushed her soft lips over my cheek "...Are you okay baby?"

"I feel like my head is going to explode." I complained, there was band of tension wrapped around my head like a vice, I could barely remember what a migraine feels like, but it sure as hell felt like my head was on fire. I just wanted a moment of peace and quiet with Rosalie, Ashley and Lucas and things kept piling on top of me. It was like being trapped in an avalanche.

"Prioritise. Speak to Akasha while I tend to the twins, then we can deal with the motley crew together" Rosalie lovingly nuzzled her soft cheek against mine. I felt myself purr contentedly as I took comfort in her close proximity, her scent, her warmth. God, without her I'd fall apart.

"I didn't kill him..." Akasha murmured the second I slipped into the room, she was sat at a square oak table at the other side of the cold stone room, cradling her head in her hands. Elena stood behind her, comfortingly rubbing the back of Akasha's neck. I took a couple steps into the cold room, noticing that while the furnishings were the best money could buy, it was just as impersonal as the chamber I'd come from.

"...I assume that is the reason you're here?" Akasha lifted her head out of her hands and stared at me. The amount of pain shinning in their dark eyes, rolling off of them in pulsating waves, almost sent me reeling back a step. I managed to stand my ground, but barely.

"Partly..." I nodded honestly "...But I actually wanted to see how you two were holding up"

"Well our elder daughter, who we have mourned for thousands of years is alive and we were reunited with her just to lose her again in the space of a few minutes. My former best friend hates me more than she ever did before, and that is saying something, while my youngest daughter thinks I killed an undistinguished Sicarri, which means he never harmed a fly in his life. All in all its been a pretty shitty day..." Akasha pursed her lips as she rubbed her temples. I tucked my hands into the front pockets of my worn jeans and tried not to flinch.

"...I didn't kill him. How could Lexi, of all people, think that I could murder a harmless boy?, her own brother?. Even if I turned completely, I wouldn't have kill him" Akasha shook her head.

I breathed a sigh, hearing Rosalie's melodic voice crystal clear in my head, it was time to make a judgement call. There was too much genuine grief in her voice for her not to be sincere, but Lyssandra had also seemed truly insulted when the accusation was turned onto her. Someone was lying, and I refused to believe a Sicarri over my biological mother especially when that Sicarri just happened to sniffing after Alexia like a bitch in heat. Lyssandra had something to gain from adding coals to Alexia's hatred of Fae, Akasha didn't. That is my judgement

"I believe you..." I murmured quietly. Elena nuzzled the top of Akasha's blonde head and purred. I felt like an intruder on their moment and I felt like hell for breaking the silence, but things had to be said to bring the ambivalent future into clarity. That was the most important thing right now; damage control.

"...I was wondering if you know where others of our kind are" Akasha bit out a bitter laugh in response.

"There are nine left, not including us. Nine when there used to be millions. After the Great Purge I saved as many of them as I could and formed a nest in the Balkans while others tried their best to survive on their own. Over time some of them started to leave my nest, they made some bullshit excuse that it would be harder for the Sicarri to track us down if we existed in smaller nests. I didn't believe it for a second, they left because they lost faith in me the day I caused this and with Alexia ruthlessly hunting down the survivors of the Purge..." She shook her head slowly.

"...Nine" Akasha sighed harshly and dropped her head back into her hands.

"We need to find them as soon as possible. Alexia left you alive because she couldn't kill with Ashley near, they'll be safe with us" I prompted. Given the state she was in, I didn't want to push too hard, but she was the only one with the answers. Answers that could save lives.

"They're spread out all over the world. I can sense them if they're close enough, but I'd have to go looking for them to find them and they'll never trust me without help" Akasha whispered.

"Alexia is going to be more determined than ever...If they want to live, they listen to you" I pointed out bluntly.

"Assuming Alexia doesn't get to them first" Elena murmured as she massaged Akasha's shoulders. I grimaced, for all I knew Alexia could've already picked up the trail of one of those nine Fae.

"Will she come back for us, do you think?"

"She'll wait until Ashley comes of age before she does anything. If you are born into the supernatural world, when you reach your maturity, you no longer require your parent's protection or guidance. Its much like the animal world, you teach them everything when they're young so that when they reach eighteen they can strike out on their own and carry on the bloodline. Its just how things are done, its instinct, you'll come to realise thatthe deeper you descend into our world" Akasha leaned back in the chair and stared at me intently.

"She'll try to turn Ashley against us" I hissed, feeling like I'd just been punched in the stomach. I pressed my hand to my roiling abdomen, trying to stifle a wince and halt the pained wheeze rising up out of my throat.

"Yes. And when Ashley is full grown she'll need Lexi more than she needs you. Just like you need Rosalie more than Victoria and Esme...just like Dana needs Soren more than she needed us" Akasha lifted her hand and placed her palm over the back of Elena's hand on her shoulder. I snarled to myself.

"And we understand why you didn't tell us about you sister" Elena murmured softly. I gritted my teeth, clenching my jaw shut, and lowered my head guiltily, but I was alleviated that they weren't mad at me, I did need them and it wasn't just about instincts and their knowledge.

"How can we be when we owe you our lives?. If we had known then we would've come here instantly, and if we had, we'd be dead. Though my death would save nine others, who deserve to live happily without having to worry about Death showing up" Akasha mused, as if she was actually contemplating searching for Alexia so she could spare the rest of the Fae with a little self-sacrifice.

"No more Fae are going to die, not while I'm around." I promised. I cocked my head as Rosalie's advice and the information Akasha had provided suddenly swirled together. Prioritise, my mate had said.

Rosalie, Ashley, Lucas, myself, Akasha, Elena, Dana and the Nine...that meant that only sixteen Fae were still in existence today. I shook my head, we were probably never going to have the numbers of past generations, but with so few Fae still alive every mated pair had significant importance and their safety would take precedence if we were ever going to rebuild what we've lost. And Ashley is the key to our future. It was one thing for me tell Alexia what I thought Ashley wanted, it would be quite another for the Bane of our existence to hear Ashley asking for peace. We suffered a failure today but we would regroup and when Ashley reached her maturity Alexia would have no choice but to listen to her mate.

"What are you thinking?" Akasha cocked her head.

That I would be nothing without Rosalie's genius backing me.

"I'm thinking I've got eighteen years to turn this shit around, because I'll be damned if I'll watch my daughter walk into Alexia's arms when the bitch is hell bent on killing the rest of us, and I know where to start" I heaved a sigh and turned on my heel, heading for the door. As the sounds of my boots hitting the stone floor resounded in my ears, I frowned as something Alexia had said came back to me. A name; Greyella, I thought about pausing and asking who 'Greyella' was and why the mere mention of the name pushed Akasha over the edge into that uncontrollable animal state when Fae were at their strongest and most immoral, I hated losing control like that. But I respected that my biological parents needed a moment alone as mates, they had things to talk about and to make sense of, any further questions could wait for day at least. I gripped the gold door handle and pulled the heavy door open before I slipped out into the expansive hallway. I had more important things to deal with myself.

It was a good thing my family were spread out over a small section of the Volturi Compound, the plain marble hallways were exactly the same, all of them fifteen feet high by six in width and completely devoid of any distinguishable marks or decoration, so navigating my way through the labyrinth would've been a little awkward otherwise. At present it was like walking through a ghost town, I could hear vampires and the shifters subtly moving about in the chambers spread out over three levels, but the halls were entirely empty except for me.

All of my senses were highly attuned to the sounds and scents of my mate, she was pacing over a short space several dozen metres away from me, out of my sight, in the antechamber Victoria and Esme had decided to settle in while waiting for our next move. I paused abruptly and cocked my head to better catch a wet coughing sound in the distance. I bit out a curse, my heightened senses were never wrong, but in this case I really hoped they were because I knew what I was listening to and it was nothing good, in fact it could potentially become dangerous if it continued. Cursing again, I tensed my taut leg muscles and propelled myself into a swift run. I blurred through the halls, agilely rounding the sharp corners as they materialised in front of me until I found myself bolting up a particularly long stretch of the corridor that led straight into the antechamber. A huge twelve-foot arch acted as an entryway and instead of a door wedged into the arch as a privacy partition, there was a floor length crimson velvet curtain which I could plainly see would be too heavy to be moved by even a violent gust of wind. I skidded to a stop in front of the screen, grabbed a fist full of the high-priced velvet and pulled the fall of the drape aside slightly so I could slip into the chamber before I let the curtain fall back into place.

Victoria, perched on the edge of an overstuffed leather couch, held Lucas securely in her lap. My son was gnawing on a stuffed kangaroo he held in his tiny hands, the stuffed-animal was no more than two or three inches big and the golden brown fur was damp with saliva, it was a good thing he didn't have teeth yet else the kangaroo would be in pieces. I assumed Esme brought the little toy with her which I was extremely thankful for, one out of two settled twins was better than both of them screaming. Listening to two distinct cries of misery was emotionally draining, I know the idea is to stay calm and let your child be soothed by your voice, but it was easily said than done when you wanted to comfort them and they were just so unhappy that they didn't respond.

"Hey little man" I stroked my forefinger along his pale cheek, Lucas grinned at me around a mouthful of toy kangaroo, he looked so adorable. I smiled tenderly at my son, before I turned my attention to Victoria but the redhead's eyes were focused somewhere over my shoulder. I stroked Lucas' cheek again before I turned to find Rosalie, sat on the couch opposite the sofa Victoria was perched on, my mate was wiping a satin smooth piece of cloth over Ashley's mouth while the little Fae continued heaving and coughing so forcefully her entire tiny body jerked. Supportively, Esme sat close by hovering over Rosalie's shoulder and stroking a hand down my mate's back in an effort to keep my lover calm. I strode toward them, pressing a gentle hand to Esme's slim shoulder, silently urging the petite motherly vampire to step aside and return to her mate while I tended to my own.

"What happened?" I sat down and snaked my arm around Rosalie's hour-glass waist and glanced down over her shoulder, my mate held Ashley on her left knee, one hand supporting our daughter's chest, under her chin, and rubbed the little Fae's back like she was burping Ashley. I felt like my heart was breaking in my chest as Ashley tried to cry and vomit at the same time around the desperate gasping and gagging sounds falling from her lips.

"She was crying so hard...She made herself sick..." Rosalie murmured tearfully, her dark eyes gleamed brightly while she continued to rub Ashley's back gently.

"...Its worse than the first time Alexia left her. What if she stops feeding again?..." Rosalie glanced at me. I covered my mouth with my free hand. Ashley was so young, she needs regular feeds or the lack of nutrition is going to impact her development. It could get dangerous, very dangerous, very quickly. So what the hell were we supposed to do?. I bit my lip and winced when Ashley's wrenching sobs continued. It felt like my temples were trapped in a vice while someone tried to tear the unbeating heart clean out of my chest.

"...What are we going to do, Bella?"

"Can you two go and get Eleazar, please?..." I spoke to Victoria and Esme without looking at them "...And hurry"

I heard them respond with a soft 'of course' before they slipped out of the room together, taking Lucas with them. Ashley's crying only intensified when she noticed her little brother being taken away from her, suddenly we had two very unhappy Fae on our hands, Lucas lost interest in his stuffed kangaroo and threw it on the floor. He lifted his little arms as if he was reaching for his sister. Ashley choked as the force of her sorrow induced another bout of violent vomiting, I reached around Rosalie to take hold of the dark piece of cloth sat next to her on the couch, I gently wiped Ashley's mouth before I cast the messy fabric aside. This was worse than the first time, when Alexia had held her back at Denali Mansion, but then it was different. Ashley knew who Alexia was now, there was no moment of cold shock when first you realise the creature in front of you is your life mate, and my little girl had watched Alexia walk away twice just so she could pursue her revenge. While there was no doubt in my mind that the Sicarri was hurting just as much as my daughter, I didn't care about her pain, she chose this path for them and now Rosalie and I have to guide our grieving five week old daughter down that road. I hated Alexia for doing this, but Ashley adored her and I recognised the truth of my earlier words, Ashley did need us all. The evidence was right in front of me.

The wait for Eleazar was agonising, though I doubt it was actually more than two minutes, it felt like hours, long torturous hours I was forced to listen and watch my daughter's frail little body racked with violent heaving and spasms. I pulled Rosalie into my side and stroked her shoulder, offering what little comfort I could to the woman I loved, while my mate tried to stifle her own sobs that instead came out of her mouth in distressed mewls. When Eleazar finally burst into the antechamber with Victoria, Esme and Lucas my dark eyes were burning with the familiar sting of tears and I was growling in frustration. The dark haired vampire strode purposefully toward us and knelt on the floor at Rosalie's feet as he instantly began scanning Ashley with the attentive eye of a doctor. He sighed harshly after just a few seconds. He glanced up to look both me and Rosalie in the eye, it was bad news, I could see it in his saddened gaze.

"As you can most likely tell, she is in a deep depression. Its causing what is unofficially known as 'Failure to Thrive' syndrome, this takes years to develop in human children but given she is Fae, things are always more intense for the Supernatural, be they good or bad..." He stayed kneeling as he went on.

"...This depression will undoubtedly stop her from feeding, as we saw at the Mansion, which causes great concern. After birth a human child's brain will grow as much in the first year as it will grow for the rest of their lives, lack of nutrition will impact this growth and their physical development as well. I'd wager that Ashley will evolve more in the first three to six months of life. As important as mental and physical development is in human children, it will be doubly so for a Fae because of her heightened senses and physical attributes. She will be severely vulnerable for the rest of her life if she doesn't progress properly now"

"What about...what do they call it...intravenous fluids. Could you take Rose's venom and feed her like that?" Victoria whispered. Eleazar didn't take his eyes away from Ashley as she continued sobbing her little heart out. I gritted my teeth as I waited for the vampire's answer.

"Intravenous fluids are introduced into the body via a central vein. Ashley's skin is impenetrable, it would be impossible, and it wouldn't be a long term solution anyway. We couldn't do that for years on end..." Eleazar sighed, before a thoughtful glint appeared in his eyes "...What about that little oak splinter she had with her, the one that carried Alexia's scent, it could..."

Rosalie had to clear her throat several times before she could interrupt "Ashleythrew it away...I guess its not enough after prolonged exposure to the real thing"

"Then I honestly don't know what to do for her, medication has no effect on us, even shifters are near enough immune and they are part human...I'm so sorry..." Eleazar whispered, he didn't have to finish his sentence for us to get the message. It wasn't a matter of what we did for her, Ashley had to fight for her life or she was going to die. I clenched my teeth together so hard my jaw ached as I attempted to halt the snarl rumbling in my chest. There wasn't any life without my mate, I literally could not function without her and that mentality was the same for every other mated pair, for Ashley and Alexia too. Rosalie leaned further into my side and buried her face into my neck, but the action did nothing to mute her mournful moan. I kissed the top of her head, as a thought, both cursed and blessed, dawned on me. I know what I have to do, I just wished there was another way.

"I do..." I whispered brokenly. I don't know if my mate heard me over her heart wrenching sobs and paralysing sorrow, but I continued anyway, if I didn't say this now then I never would.

"...Akasha made me and everyone around me think I was human, in essence I was human for a while, it wouldn't be difficult for her to numb Ashley and Alexia's Mate Bond. She wouldn't be able to break it, nothing could ever do that, but she could bury it on Ashley's side." Rosalie stopped shaking against me as she silently digested my suggestion. Ashley had cried her into an exhausted sleep and my mate had drawn our daughter close against her chest and was now crooning to the little Fae.

"Alexia would still feel the full connection and the Mate Bond would reawaken the second Ashley came of age, when she will be strong enough to deal with her own emotions and when she'll be physically mature enough to be Alexia's mate in every sense..." Eleazar stood up and paced a little, thinking "...I agree. Without that desperate yearning for her mate dominating every thought, Ashley would live a normal happy life just as any other child and she would develop smoothly. From a medical perspective its what is best for Ashley"

"We'd be messing around in her head. Taking something that means so much to her already" Rosalie whispered, her melodic voice was husky. That was exactly the reason I didn't want to follow through with my own suggestion, I didn't want to risk Ashley's hating me in the future but the alternative was watching her suffer and potentially having to stand by and watch her depression kill her.

"You'd be saving Ashley's life..." Victoria interjected, her British accent slipped and became heavily noticeable in a second, showing me that she had carefully considered what she was about to say "...She will come to understand that in time. In any case your parental duty is ensuring her safety, her health and her happiness. Obviously it would be easier with Alexia playing ball with you, but now you must do what you perceive as best. And I am agreement also, have Akasha numb the Bond and do it before Ashley wakes up"

"I don't think there is a right or wrong decision here; if you leave things as they are you risk her death, if you numb the Bond on her end then she will thrive and she will be relatively content, but she would be living a lie..." Esme whispered quietly "...And I'm willing to bet she will always feel like something crucial is missing"

"It'll be a mess..." Rosalie murmured "...But at least she'll be alive"

I turned my head to look at her as my mate pressed tighter into my side. Our dark eyes locked knowingly, as much as we both appreciated the opinions of our family, we were Ashley's parents so the final decision came down to us just as the consequences of the decision will be ours to face when Ashley's fateful eighteenth birthday arrived.

"Can someone go and bring Akasha here, please?"


AN: So not the happiest of endings, but I've got to lay the foundation for the sequel, right?. As I said before a couple of chapters ago, this is by no means the end of the road, we're just turning a corner. I don't know when I'll get a chance to start on the sequel considering I'm about to get really busy at work and school for the next couple of months(More so than usual anyway) and juggling other stories too. I don't even have a title in mind yet but I do know what's going on plot wise so I ask that you just continue to be patient with me. I promised you a sequel and you'll get one. So thoughts?, questions?, criticisms?, lay 'em all on me.