Epilogue: Peace

I was running towards Thia again, but this time it was excitement rather than fear that was driving me forward. It had been several months since I had seen her and the circumstances surrounding our reunion were unpredictable even to me. The trees that whizzed passed me should have been a blur at the speed I was going, but my enhanced senses meant that no matter how fast I went, every leaf, twig and even bug was in perfect focus. Running was so instinctive that it didn't even require my full attention and my mind began to wander.

The past twelve years since I had run away from our childhood home with Thia in my arms had surpassed even my most hopeful of forecasts. I could remember how anxious I had been and I really needn't have worried at all.

Of course it had been difficult for us initially. Our first few weeks together had been…trying. We had had to get to know each other again. So much had changed since we were children and I was so worried about any harm coming to her, and especially of me hurting her. I may have been a tad overprotective! Luckily Thia was strong enough to stand up to me and our love for each and our bond as sisters was durable enough to withstand everything we put ourselves through.

We started out moving around often and staying in hotels and guest houses, pretending that we were just passing through each new place on our way to visit relatives. But this had proved hard for so many reasons. The constant travelling took its toll on Thia and being surrounded by humans was torturous for me. The scent only was overwhelming and then there was the way their shifting decisions ran constant interference with my visions. I could never be sure it was safe to leave Thia, so I rarely did. On top of all of that, it was very expensive and we barely had any money.

It turned out that that problem, at least, was fairly easy to remedy once I put my mind to it. When I utilised my visions, there were a wide range of solutions to our money problems. My favourites were claiming rewards for tip offs to apprehend criminals and gambling. These two activities were at the opposite ends of the spectrum of legality, but both were equally fun and profitable.

It wasn't that easy for me to participate in gambling though. My small stature and size made me look even younger than my 19 years of human development and no one would take me seriously. That was so frustrating, as I was actually almost 26 and that combined with my experiences meant that I was most definitely not a child. The most effective method I found of making money through gambling was joining illegal card games, posing as a teenage boy who had questionably acquired a stake. I felt no remorse in taking the money of grown men who would exploit a vulnerable young boy that way. They saw me as easy pickings…until we started playing that is!

Often the men would take exception to my winning streak. No matter how I tried to diffuse and mask it, at the end of the day I was taking their money. They would accuse me of cheating…which was arguably true but I would still staunchly deny it and no matter how hard they tried, it was impossible for them to prove anything or catch me in the act. Mostly there were just rude, mean and threw me out. Sometimes they would try and take their money back by force or to teach me a lesson. Those were my favourite nights! I would come home to Thia well fed, having given us an income and having solved my hunting dilemma for a while.

After a few months, the constant moving got too much for both of us. I had managed to accumulate a respectable amount of money so we rented a house. We had to be much more careful about our back story once we were settled and I had to hunt further and further afield, for both blood and money. But everything else was better. Thia and I became closer still once the stress of constant change was removed. I became very accustomed to her proximity and once or twice had even been exposed to her fresh blood. Mercifully, I somehow found the strength to resist. My love for her was like a shield and I had slowly begun to trust that I would never hurt her. I was still cautious though and gentle when I touched her. There was always a risk, but as my self-control of my thirst and of my gift improved, my confidence that I could protect Thia grew and we had finally relaxed into a routine that suited us both. We gradually increased the amount of time we would stay in one place so that Thia was able to get work as well. We were happy.

In May 1936, Thia met Joseph. I knew the instant that they met, the vision hit me so hard and clear. They were going to be married. The exact whys and wheres were not clear as so many decisions were yet to be made but that they were going to be happy was indisputable. Thia came home that day glowing and giggling and I was elated for her. But sad for us. Everything was about to change. It was inevitable that she would leave me behind eventually. Her human life could develop and grow. I was set in stone.

Joe was a pilot. He was dashing, with light brown hair, cropped short, a mouth that was turned up in a permanent smile and blue eyes that danced with laughter. He openly adored everything about Thia and that included me. He was so immediately accepting that it was impossible not to love him. This was fortunate because I would not have given her up for anyone that was less than perfect. I was having to pose as Thia's younger sister by then and I dropped my assumed age to 16 when I was introduced to him, to give me as much time in their lives as possible. And that was how I acquired a protective older brother.

Once Joe was a part of our lives, we had to be much more careful. I had heeded Tom's advice…that it was better to know nothing or everything and very dangerous to know a little. I had shared with Thia everything I knew about vampires over our first few weeks together and we both knew that if anyone discovered she had this knowledge, then it could cost us both our lives.

The night she met Joe, we sat down to talk. She trusted my feelings, instincts and visions and asked me straight out if they had a future together. I would never lie to her, even though it broke my heart to set her free. We decided that we would protect Joe by protecting our secret. We rehashed our back story to make me as young as possible and to enable us to extend our stay. Fortunately we were new to the area, so it did not prove to be problematic. I had finally burned my journal. I had memorised every word in it, but it still was hard for me to let it go. No matter how precious it was to me, I simply could not risk having it any more. It was too incriminating.

Within a month, Joe had proposed. He was older than Thia and was well established in his own home. He couldn't wait to share that home with Thia…because he was a perfect gentleman, much to her frustration! She looked absolutely radiant on her wedding day. I gave her away. That had been met with strong resistance. Joe likes to claim it was his charm that persuaded the church to allow it, but I know it was my extra wide smile and well placed growl that ensured things were as they should be. I had protected Thia as best I could and I was passing that responsibility onto Joe. I knew he was more than capable of looking after her and that they would be very happy together.

I could not remember a happier day ever. I loved every second of the preparations and even didn't mind forcing down a few morsels of food. Then there was the dancing. I loved the dancing.

As Joe and Thia prepared to leave for their first night together, Joe took me to one side and promised me that I would always be welcome in their home. I was his sister now too, and I should mention that to any young man who pressed his suit! I gave him a firm hug, taking him by surprise with my strength. I tried to see that I was gaining a brother, not losing sister but it was hard, because I could see. Mine and Thia's life for over a decade had been intertwined and from now on we would unravel and drift apart. Of course she would always be everything to me and nothing could break our bond. But it wouldn't be the same.

As the summer approached, I talked with Thia and agreed that the best thing for me to do was go away over the summer months. We told Joe that I had a job, working in service in a wealthy family's summer home. He was upset at first that I was going to work far away and worried that I'd be on my own, but eventually relented. It was just too risky for me to be around them when the sun was shining all day every day. Thia and I had planned to move on before summer hit, but now I would be leaving on my own.

It had been a lonely six months. At first, I had relished the chance to run and hunt with freedom. I had explored some wilderness and gotten purposefully lost in the middle of nowhere, just because it didn't matter that I did. I was able to watch Thia through my visions and I became well practiced at checking in on her remotely, while still trying to protect her privacy…a little. I wrote to her regularly, but it was impossible for her to write back as she had no idea where I would be and I missed her more and more. It wasn't long before I began to crave human company again, but it was more difficult to integrate into society without Thia. I stood out because of my small size, short hair and the fact I was alone. I had to work hard to perfect a human charade. I was very careful how I chose to dress and carry myself. It became a game to me.

Now it was time to go home. To me, home was wherever Thia was and I could not be more eager to be back in her presence.

As I approached the town I paused to change. I had been travelling for days wearing boy's clothes that were now barely recognisable as clothes at all. I had to freshen up in a stream. As I scrubbed off the worst of the mud I vowed to be more careful in the future. It was embarrassing to have to clean up outside like an animal. As I pulled on the dress I had brought with me, I felt a sense of relief. I brushed down the fabric, getting out the worst of the creases and brushed and put clips into my hair. A sense of calm descended over me. I felt so much more comfortable like this. My outfit was a costume, a disguise that hid my past and my future and let me fit into the present. Let me be a part of my family.

I got to Joe and Thia's house moments after the sun had set. There was nothing coincidental about that and I smiled that I hadn't lost my touch. I was getting better and better at navigating my visions. I knocked on the door, vibrating in excitement and anticipation.

Joe opened the door and welcomed me with a beaming smile. He looked exhausted though and dishevelled which was very out of character for him.

"Come in, Alice," he hustled me into the house. "We've been waiting for you. Thia said you'd be here soon, but I wasn't so sure. How is your timing so good?" I just smiled at him in reply.

Joe led me into the living room, where Thia was resting in an armchair wrapped up in blankets. She looked terrible. More like a vampire than I did. She was pale with huge dark circles under her eyes. I looked at her searchingly and she returned my gaze for a moment before I ran to her and pulled her into a hug.

"Careful Alice," she warned with a chuckle. "I'm not indestructible!"

"Well…" I prompted impatiently. Joe cleared his throat from behind me. I turned to him and he handed me a small bundle of blankets. I took it from him carefully, holding my breath.

"This is Auntie Alice," Joe cooed.

The baby boy in my arms was so unbelievably tiny and handsome and I was mesmerised. He had a mess of dark hair and huge wide blue eyes that were both innocent and all-knowing at the same time. He blinked at me.

"He's beautiful," I told them honestly, wondering if my face would crack because my smile was so wide.

"His name is Tom," Thia told me and my eyes shot up to meet hers. Hers were brimming with tears and mine would've been too, if that were possible. It was such a perfect name for him.

My Tom had sacrificed his life for me, protected me and given me forever. Because of that I had been there to save Thia. Thia and I had talked about it many times before. I had told her everything about him. His strength, his values, his kindness and how he had saved me in every way. We were both alive because of him. We now both considered him our father. As far as we were concerned our biological father had no claim to us whatsoever and even though she had never met Tom, Thia loved him almost as much as I did. I hoped it would make him proud to know that Thia's child, who was named after him, was in the world because of him. In the end, he had preserved and created life, not taken it.

Baby Tom had fallen asleep and was resting peacefully in my arms. I was captivated by him and in awe that he was so comfortable with me. I made a silent vow to watch over him always and do everything in my power to protect him. I would be his guardian angel, as my Tom had been mine.

xxx

AN: Thank you to everyone who has supported this story by reviewing and favouriting, it means such a lot to me. Thank you to Kathie (Katmom) for encouraging me to finish Thia's story. I am so much happier with this story now it has a proper ending. I highly recommend you go and read her story, EAC: The Journal of Edward Cullen, the much deserved winner of The Canon Tour, Pre-Twilight round.

Thank you to my beta, TheaJ1, who is brilliant and to my amazing sister, who is also my best friend.

I really enjoyed writing this story and I hope you liked it too.