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A Scarlet Night- Epilogue
It was the most devastating natural disaster in the recorded history of Washington state. The associated press reported that a massive earthquake rocked the Northwest coast of the United States and Canada and was caused by an unprecedented rapid shift in plates of oceanic rock located deep within the Pacific. The tremendous earthquake forced many of Washington's dormant volcanoes to become active; spewing black ash into the air, and causing slowly-dripping magma to sear the mountain valleys. The heat forced many of the area's glaciers to melt, inciting widespread flooding across the coast, but in an interesting turn of events that left Geologists baffled, the cool water seemed to staunch the flow of magma erupting from these volcanoes.
The water receded, swiftly running to lakes, rivers and the ocean- a large amount being absorbed into the ground.
Spring would bring incredible growth.
Still, there was so much damage. In La Push the earth's crust was blackened and cracked open, the sky blanketed in charcoal ash, and yet there was one visible star, glimmering with a scarlet sheen.
The shapeshifters began to rebuild the damaged houses in La Push with the help of two vampires- Alice and Jasper.
Alice had been so incredibly grateful to Leah that she offered to help and Jasper... Well, he had a new outlook on life. He was in love, he felt loved, and was simply astounded that he had helped save the world. Regardless of everything in his past, he was resolved to be a better person and he wanted to start by helping Leah. He was amazed by her constant emotional strength, but more than that, he was awed by her faith in him. No one- not even Alice- had ever believed in him so much or pushed so hard for him to do the right thing.
For all of the Quileute families to return to their land, each and every home had been repaired. Alice even went as far as to purchase and install solar panels on each roof, ensuring all had power when surrounding areas had not been able to restore it as of yet. When they were done, Alice and Jasper said goodbye, preparing to take their leave.
"You don't have to go," Leah said as she hugged Alice. She pulled back and looked her in the eye. "You're welcome to stay."
Alice smiled in return. "I'm not sure that is such a good idea."
Leah placed her hands on her hips and scowled. "What have you seen?"
Alice and Jasper had been leaving the reservation to hunt and while they were gone, the distance allowed Alice's sight to return while she was away.
"Doctor Cullen is returning to Forks."
"Alice!" Leah shouted happily. "Why didn't you tell me? I can reach out to him. You know what I've seen."
Leah had dreamed of six golden-eyed immortals living in the Cullen estate in Forks- Carlisle, Alice, Jasper, and three others.
Alice shook her head sadly and squeezed Jasper's hand. "It's too soon. Rosalie and Esme have to heal first. They have to come to terms with this life. They have a history with Jasper that is too fresh. Rosalie in particular is...very angry with him."
Leah looked at Jasper with a raised eyebrow.
"It's my fault she was turned," he admitted, his gaze dropping to the ground, shame and guilt engulfing him. "Without her consent."
"Do you have the list I gave you?" Leah asked with a smirk.
He looked up at her and couldn't help but smile. Yesterday she had given him a list of therapists.
She stepped closer and poked him in the chest. "I don't approve of what you did but I can forgive you. She will too, in time."
Bella lay with her head on Edward's naked chest. Her eyes were closed, a content smile on her lips. They had been in the Fae realm for two days and had yet to leave their bed.
It was a paradise, the two of them decompressing from what had happened on Earth, but now it was time to face their new reality. Bella's brow creased, her head throbbed, and she let out a whimpering sigh.
Edward sat up and pulled her with him, kissing her lightly on the lips as he asked, "What is it?"
"The others...They're... ah, anxious."
He went still, his mind racing but his voice was calm. "The other Fae."
She nodded. "We have to face them, and soon."
Bella touched his cheek, his neck and chest. "They are... very wary of our presence. Never has a vampire been able to come here. You must understand that telepathy is a common Fae trait. They know your thirst has not returned and they know that I have venom running through my veins but they don't know what to expect. They're scared."
Edward swallowed, nervous at the prospect. He hadn't felt any thirst since arriving here. He hoped with all his heart that it would never return.
He took her face in his hands, his thumbs gently passing over her cheeks. "Are you ready?"
She nodded and forced a smile. It was such a surreal moment for her. Bella had dreamed about this, fantasized a grand welcoming, but what she facing was altogether different. These people were her kin, being here among them was a dream come true; but under the circumstances…this was going to be so very different from what she had always hoped for.
They dressed and left the small cottage, walking hand in hand. The land here looked very much like Earth; lush, tall grass covered the ground. Enormous trees surrounded them with leaves in vibrant shades of green and yellow. The sky was swirling periwinkle with white puffy clouds drifting by. Even with all the similarities, Edward knew it was very different. The elements here were stronger but more subtle; they melded into each other harmoniously and needed no conduit to work together.
He watched, fascinated as the earth beneath his feet changed with each step he took, conforming to his weight and giving him balance. Even curiouser was that he left no footprints but Bella did. She left behind a trail of small pink flowers in her wake. As the sun beamed down through a break in the trees his skin sparkled and he laughed when he realized that Bella's did too -not as much as his- just a faint glimmer, but he found himself greatly pleased by this.
Suddenly his telepathy was picking up...something. It was a light buzz, an agitated hum pricking the back of his mind. Before he could put any real focus on the sound, they revealed themselves.
Six men clad in heavy silver armor flickered into his line of sight. They had teleported and were now channeling- their hands balled into fists by their sides were glowing a deep, fiery orange.
The air around the men swirled slowly then the wind picked up, carrying their scents toward Edward and Bella.
They inhaled slowly and exhaled proudly.
No blood lust. None.
They walked forward and the six Fae did the same until they stood just a few feet from each other.
"Welcome, Isabella," said the tallest Fae. He bowed to her and then hesitated, debating on whether or not to extend his hand to Edward. Before he could decide, the air around them shimmered, the petals from the pink flowers in Bella's footsteps floated around the group. There was a flash of light and then another Fairy popped in behind the line of Fae men- who immediately dropped to their knees.
She was dressed in an elaborate gown of sheer material, the fabric washing over her shoulders and flowing down her back in a light cape that looked like it was encrusted with diamonds, glimmering in the sunshine. She stepped between the kneeling men and smiled gently.
"Welcome home, Isabella, and welcome to our world, Edward. We are honored to receive you. Please forgive my guard, your presence is...unprecedented. They only wish to keep everyone safe." She looked to the six men kneeling at her feet. "Rise," she commanded. "Return home. We have nothing to fear from these two."
They rose to their feet, bowed to their queen, and then to Edward and Bella before popping away.
"Oh, Isabella…" the Fae woman said as she walked toward them, her features softening, "You look just like your father."
She chuckled and shook her head. "Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Lillianna, High Queen of Fae, and I am so pleased to meet you both." She took a step back and studied Edward and Bella. Their auras were unlike anything she had ever seen- truly a perfect combination of two species.
When Bella took Edward's hand, the Queen let out a soft gasp. The moment their hands touched the sun burned brighter, the air cooed in a wind-song-lullaby, and the ground beneath them hummed in contentment.
"I would like to introduce you to the others soon. They are understandably a little frightened by the venom you share, but I will speak to them, reassure them that you do not pose a threat." She hesitated and gave Bella a meaningful look. "Before that happens, there is something you must do."
Bella's eyes widened, she blushed and nodded as the Queen projected her thoughts. Edward could not hear the Queen, but he raised an eyebrow at the suddenly shy look on Bella's face.
"I will leave you to it," Lillianna said and winked at Bella before apparating away.
"What is it?" Edward asked, his brow wrinkled in curiosity.
With a chuckle Bella responded, "Fairies can sense mate bonds and she has no doubt that we are bound, but they have a ritual of sorts, and we won't be seen as truly mated until it has been done."
"What type of ritual?"
She stepped closer and wrapped her arms around him. "I suppose you could compare it to a wedding rite."
He blinked at her, a little shocked, a little excited. "She wants us to marry?"
Her fingers danced up his back and she played with the fine hair at the nape of his neck. "Not quite. Fae don't have marriage ceremonies, they consider the mate bond to trump any spoken vows. What she wants us to do is to consummate our union."
He frowned, confused, since they had consummated their union several times over the past few days.
Bella hummed in agreement remembering all the delicious ways they had loved each other. "They don't consider the mate bond complete until the couple has had sex while channeling. The act will... change the bond- make it very visible and as a truly mated couple, the Queen believes that the others are more likely to accept us both."
He smirked, loving the idea, appreciating the fact that once they did this everyone would know she was his, irrevocably. Leaning down he kissed her softly, slowly- even if she was less breakable now his touches were meant to make her feel cherished and worshipped. Bella deserved to be respected and he was still a gentleman after all; being in another world wouldn't change that.
He pictured her dressed in white as she walked down a petal strewn aisle toward him. He imagined sliding a ring onto her finger as he professed his everlasting vows of commitment to her. Although he would respect Fae customs, he still wanted to marry her.
She inhaled sharply, her eyes watering, she wanted that too. Never had she wanted it more. Edward was the one person she had ever loved. In one thousand years she had never felt this sort of connection. Never had she felt this whole.
Taking her face into his hands Edward stared into Bella's eyes and savored the feel of her pulse. He pressed his lips to her forehead and then her nose and finally her lips. When she breathed out, he breathed in; when her lips parted he kissed her deeper with a passion that made her feel warm all over.
He slid his hand around her bottom and picked her up bridal style, apparating them back to bed where he laid her down gently. Ever so slowly he removed his clothes, then hers, kissing every inch of newly exposed skin.
He channeled water so easily, it was second nature now, and so he ran the tips of his fingers over her calves. She giggled at first but didn't shy away from his touch. She moved closer, his fingers traveling up her thigh. He channeled fire and water together and touched her all over; gone was the giggling, now replaced by sharp intakes of breath. She was shivering in anticipation, cool air rushing over their bodies as she too began to channel. Bella's hands began to glow with fire and earth, spurring him on with her heated touches and grounding him at the same time with the intensity of her stare.
Skin to skin, laying all bare, she clutched onto to him- to everything he had. She took his lips between hers; a sweet warm kiss, a brush of tongue, a soft growl, she held him tighter.
She felt herself grow stronger physically, venom pumping through her veins with every beat of her heart- which was flying.
And Edward...He was smiling, thrilled, and absolutely giddy.
He could feel her too, feel how right this was. He groaned softly when she had wrapped her legs around him and held him close, her lips searching, her body deliciously pressed against his.
He held her now and was awestruck at what was happening between them. He knew Bella was his mate, but this... this was more. The connection between them was beyond intense. The elements in perfect harmony around them made it surreal.
Then her scent changed, her venom like a sweet perfume intoxicating his senses, he suddenly wanted her, his need rising, his body instinctively moving against hers.
Of course, she wanted him too, just as badly. This was by far Edward's favorite side effect of Bella's venom, and a big part of the reason he was so giddy. It caused her sex drive to go through the roof, her stamina too.
His mate was grinding on him, her hot, wet tongue laving up and down his neck. He reciprocated, licking her neck and softly dragging his teeth across her skin. Bella trembled, vibrating with lust and love for this man, she pushed her neck into his teeth, proving once and for all that her skin was impenetrable to him now- they were equals in every sense of the word.
Still, his pace was languid, he wanted slow lovemaking. His teasing was a little playful, his touch radiating security and love, his smile so genuine. Both of their happiness was undeniable, the bond between them buzzing with the precious excitement that only comes with new love.
They kissed lazily, a cool wind rushing over their bodies. He slid in slowly, with long, deliberate strokes as she writhed beneath him. Every breath they took was taken by the elements, a tempest hovering overhead. Every beat of Bella's heart caused the ground beneath them to shake and shift, caused the sun to swell and radiate heat.
As he began to move faster, she whined for more, her nails digging into the skin of his arms. Growling, he kissed her fiercely, his teeth nipping at her bottom lip. Then he turned her around and took her from behind, burying himself with one hard thrust. Leaning forward he pressed his chest against her back, one arm wrapped around her middle, holding her close as he pumped faster. His hand wandered, caressing her breasts, toying with her nipples until she was whimpering.
He licked her neck and sucked on the skin where her jugular throbbed, he could smell her venom, taste it on her skin.
"I want to lavish you with my tongue for hours," he told her as he thrust in deep, both of them moaning in sheer pleasure. "I want make you come again and again, I want to make you feel loved."
She came hard, body boneless, mind blissfully empty, yet tears streaming down her cheeks. Bella had never felt anything so profound- the combination of physical and emotional true love.
She was here with her soul mate. Her other half.
She hadn't believed in such thing until Edward; had never experienced this sort of joy.
"Love you," she whispered, "I love you so much."
His eyes had been squeezed shut, having almost succumbed to his climax, but he stopped himself, pulling out and turning her around- wanting to see her eyes.
"I love you too," he vowed, sliding back into her and hissing. "I love this..."
He took long slow breaths as he rocked his hips slowly. Placing his hand in her hair, he guided her head down, whispering, "Watch, look at us. That is beautiful...me being a part of you in every way."
He pumped faster and leaned in closer still. "Being this close to you is heaven."
Then he came, holding on to Bella with all his strength.
She thrust her hips up, taking him as deeply as she could, relishing his grip- wanting their bodies as close as possible.
Her mind was a litany of yes, yes, yes, my love, my always.
They lay together in a blissful heap, looking forward to awakening in a whole new world.
Hand in hand they walked through the tall grass, the sun beating down and causing their skin to shimmer. Although she was silent, Bella was so very excited. The only other Fairy she had ever known was her mother, and the reality that she was about to meet others made her move a bit faster. Before long, she was moving at vampire speed and giggling at the wind that tickled her face.
When she could hear their thoughts, she stopped abruptly, amazed at how many there were.
"Hundreds..." Edward whispered, cringing at the assault of thoughts that were bombarding his mind. He immediately shielded himself, breathing out in relief. Then he focused on individual thoughts, trying to prepare himself before meeting them.
What he could tell was that the Queen had assured her people that Edward and Bella would not harm them, but that didn't take away their fears of a vampire in their world. Some were quite frightened, hiding their children and preparing for a fight despite Lillianna's words. Others were curious beyond belief because the stars had changed.
The stars here were sacred, the constellations told stories of Fae history and they hadn't changed since the creation of the Earth itself, until now... Edward looked up and was astonished to see that even in the light of day the stars were visible in the sky. Hovering behind the clouds was the most beautiful canopy of shimmering light. Right above them was a cluster that took the shape of a swan with its wings spread wide but what took his breath away was the fact that this constellation was new. It had appeared the moment he and Bella had come through the portal.
Bella squeezed his hand and they walked forward through a grove of trees, taking care to move slowly as they revealed themselves.
Edward felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz entering Munchkin city- the Fae were hiding behind tree trunks, peeking out to get a glimpse. A child no more than six years old ran from her hiding place, pointing right at Edward.
"It's him." Then she pointed to the new constellation in the sky. "He's the fire."
Her father followed close behind her. "Fire can be uncontrollable," he hissed.
The girl shook her head vigorously and ran closer. "Fire deserves a healthy respect, not fear. Fire is life."
"Look at him," the girl argued, "Look at his stance, how he's trying to protect her."
Edward hadn't realized that he stepped in front of Bella, his arm stretched out preventing her from moving forward.
"I'm not afraid of him," the girl grinned knowingly.
"You have no reason to fear him," Bella said her voice soft yet determined. "he is my mate."
Lillianna was there, nodding in agreement. "Isabella's blood has sated him, fed the venom forever, changed him. All you have to do is look and you will see that he is no longer a vampire."
No longer a vampire? Edward thought, amazed. He hadn't considered that could be a possibility.
The girl, she lowered herself to one knee and bowed to them. The Queen knelt beside her but kept Edward's gaze, placing her hand on the girl's shoulder. "Adele is right. You are no longer a creature of darkness. What I see before me is something altogether different."
The girl looked up and smiled broadly, "And now, we can celebrate."
Edward took a sharp breath and Bella turned toward him, her brow lifted in question.
He motioned to her body and she looked down, inspecting herself. She was now dressed in a simple white gown, just as Edward had pictured earlier. He promptly dropped to his knee and said, "Marry me."
Edward's smile couldn't have been bigger. He kissed his bride then twirled her around, kissing her again at the request of their wedding guests. Instead of glasses clinking together, they were prompted by a chorus of notes sung by the children that had gathered around them.
In perfect harmony the children sang, encouraging them to kiss.
It was a quick peck on the lips that they shared as white flower petals floated around them. Shouts for more came from the adults, and nothing could take these two from this moment.
Tears of joy leaked from Bella's eyes. For once in her life, she had no fear. No elements to instruct, no darkness overshadowing this day. Right now, she was truly at peace, her mate by her side, she was surrounded by...family.
It was a notion she had almost forgotten about.
The children sang once again and Edward still had her hand, twirling her around before he slipped his hand to the small of her back and pulled her in for another kiss.
"My wife," he murmured into her hair, his thirst absent, his entire being saturated in nothing but love.
They danced in the sun, a tremendous melody of voices guiding every kiss. Today began their forever.
"Why did they bow to us?" He asked as they walked back to their cottage. "Is that a Fae custom?"
She laughed softly. "I don't know of Fae customs, not really, but I don't think that's why they bowed. You had to have heard why."
He laughed too. "I was a bit distracted back there," he admitted, "I was shielding myself from all thoughts beside my own. You'll have to enlighten me."
He had been completely focused on her for the entire evening- at their wedding. She smiled broadly, remembering how his gaze had hardly left her. Then she remembered everything else. "They consider us to be what some would call...a higher power."
"You're kidding," he shook his head in disbelief, "surely they don't believe we're Gods..."
"Some do believe that and the ones that don't still believe we are still something to be worshipped. We are a new species to this world. Our rebirth in this realm was documented in the stars. They refuse to overlook that."
"And," she sat on the bed and patted the space beside her, "because of their telepathy, they know that I..." she swallowed both nervous and excited at what she was about to tell him. "I can still hear the wolves."
The wolves worshipped Bella, they prayed to her, for her, and every time they did the stars glimmered in a vibrant red and gold- the new swan's wings beautifully strewn across the horizon.
Through this fascinating connection Bella watched the wolves channel, cried with relief as they kept the elements of the earth balanced. Even more surprising was that Alice and Jasper could channel too. They roamed the earth channeling with a strength and control even stronger than the wolves.
The Volturi remained in power, keeping the vampire race in line. Their laws were enforced with veracity, and their respect for supernatural creatures was never more present.
They had no choice but to acknowledge that the shapeshifters were essential to the survival of the human race and therefore, essential to their own survival.
And so the Volturi enforced a new rule, one which offered protection to any shape-shifter. Hard as it may have been to rely on their natural enemy, self-preservation forced them to concede that shapeshifters were not to be touched.
Indeed the Fae saw Bella and Edward as Gods. Bella in particular, with her ability to communicate with Leah- a creature of another world- was unprecedented and spectacular.
Yes, they had venom, but never had it spurred bloodlust. To their surprise, it spurred joy and love, excitement and a sort of spiritual awakening.
Edward had been overjoyed to see that Carlisle had returned to Forks. He watched as Leah approached him at the hospital, informed him that previous boundaries set up in the treaty had been lifted and invited him to the reservation.
Both curious and cautious Carlisle accepted her offer and went alone to La Push. He was astonished when Leah took his hand and led him to a picnic table to talk. She told him stories of Quileute legends and Fae legends too, and then she told him where Edward and Bella were.
With a shaky voice, Carlisle whispered, "He's...alive?"
Leah smiled and squeezed his hand. "Yes, and he's so happy Doctor Cullen, with his mate and safe."
A shuddering breath escaped Carlisle's mouth. Edward was his son, his progeny, his best friend for so long that his absence left him feeling empty. He felt a tremendous guilt for how they had parted, for how he had tried to hunt Bella.
"You know…" Leah started, still grinning, "You shouldn't feel guilty. You should feel proud. You are what made Edward so...good. All the light in Edward stems from you- everything you taught him- the compassion, the love, the humanity. It lives on in him and he loves you, so much, leaving you behind is his only regret."
Leah's words brought Carlisle a great sense of comfort. He was able to overcome his guilt and carry on with his new life, throwing all of his energy into Esme.
It took time but he never stopped trying to show her that life as a vampire could be fulfilling. He offered himself to her as a companion, showed her that healing was possible and eventually taught her how to love again.
He offered Emmett and Rosalie a place in his home and together they thrived in their vegetarian lifestyle. He never let them forget that happiness was within their grasp, and that they had the power to rise above the venom's call.
Two hundred years later
"Can we get sick?"
"Not here you can't, never where the elements are harmonious." Lillianna wondered if the venom could cause such a thing. She listened to Bella's thoughts- she was experiencing weakness, apparating took much more concentration than should have been necessary. The Queen looked at Bella carefully, studied Bella's aura and smiled softly. "Oh sweetheart… You're not sick. You're pregnant."
Bella gasped- her hands flying to her stomach. "I…I didn't think that was possible. Edward… he can't…"
"Clearly, he can." Lillianna sat beside her and took her hand. "Edward should not have been able to travel through the portal. You should not have been able to survive venom in your blood, but here you both are."
Edward, of course, was overjoyed. He viewed fatherhood as the greatest gift ever bestowed upon him, something he thought the venom had taken from him.
Early in the pregnancy Lillianna could sense both dark and light power within the womb but after only one month a thick film of venom prevented it's aura from being read. The Queen tried several times, as did a few others gifted Fae but none were successful. Edward proved to be fiercely protective of his pregnant mate, shooing them away and incessantly doting on his wife- a trait which drove Bella batty.
She was not looking forward the next nine months.
Fortunately for Bella, her pregnancy did not take nine months, it took four.
Vanessa Cullen was born at twilight, and the moment she entered the world a new star emerged, and for just a few seconds it was the only star to shine.
At her first cry every star surged and shimmered with a blinding light. Another mark in Fae history carved into the sky.
Bella held Vanessa to her chest, and Edward held them both. "She's so beautiful, Bella. So perfect."
"She has your nose," Bella whispered and smiled at Edward before saying, "and look at her hair, she's a ginger just like her daddy."
Beautiful indeed, and the perfect combination of two species. She had inherited both Fae and vampire traits. At two days old, after Bella placed her in the crib, Vanessa apparated right into Edward's arms. She rolled over by herself at four days old, and at two weeks she rolled over and crawled to daddy- at vampire speed.
To the surprise of her parents, Vanessa could not read minds, but she could show others her own thoughts when touching them. To everyone's surprise, she was able to sleep, and she did- about eight hours a day.
Bella followed the sound of her daughter's laughter and found her in Edward's arms, as she usually was.
"What's so funny?" she asked, sitting beside them.
"Can you show mommy?"
Vanessa, or Nessa as they called her, reached for Bella. She snuggled close and splayed her fingers on the bare skin on Bella's chest and showed her Edward making silly faces.
Nessa aged very slowly, like a Fae child normally would and she was the apple of her parents' eye. She was the final piece of their happily ever after.
With her eyes closed Bella was watching the wolves. Leah had stopped shifting forty years earlier and now had two children of her own, and a grandchild as well. They were at First Beach, and with them were several vampires.
Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice and Jasper- all of them channeling.
It had taken two centuries but Leah's vision finally came to fruition.
Edward was behind Bella, holding her tightly, smiling at the site of Carlisle- his golden eyes alight with love, Esme by his side.
"You miss him."
"Yes," Edward replied. Even after all this time, he thought of Carlisle often. He was happy for his sire, relieved to see that he had found his mate. Seeing Carlisle through Leah's eyes was always bittersweet for him. At times he missed him fiercely.
"Do you ever regret it?" Bella asked softly.
"Never," he answered without hesitation. He stood before her, his hands on her cheeks, meeting her eyes. "Of course I miss him. He was a big part of my life for a very long time. If anything, I feel obscenely lucky that I can watch him from afar and see him so happy. That is more than enough for me. Besides, I could never regret being here with you and Nessa."
Sliding his hands down across her shoulders, he leaned in and pushed her hair aside, kissing the scar on her neck. "This is where we belong, safe and loved under a canopy of scarlet stars."
I have to thank my pre-readers kikki7,NKubie and MrsK81, and my beta Vintagejgc. These awesome ladies helped me SO much!
And, of course, I want to thank everyone who read this crazy little fic. I appreciate all of your time and support.