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CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

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A/N:- Banner by FatesLoveQueen /oed60p

I own nothing. Boydblog helped me with this and I'll be forever thankful.

She fixed. I fiddled. Any mistakes that remain are on me.

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~ BELLA CULLEN ~

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I followed the sound of Kieran's voice into the house, feeling like I was the only person who didn't understand what was happening. I noticed his scent permeated every room as I continued to search for him, finally finding him in one of the back bedrooms. He sat on the end of the bed and stared up at me as I entered. His amber eyes explored my face, searching for something unknown.

"What's happening?" I asked. "Why are you here?"

"Jake and I found Irina and Laurent," he confirmed.

I raised my eyebrow. "Jake?"

He laughed. "It's strange isn't it how someone that is built to be an enemy can become your closest confidant."

"I'm lost."

"There were times when I worried for my life, especially with the other wolves. But Jake and I had an affinity," he said. "We both thought we were in love with the same girl."

I found myself looking at my feet. Jake's words about why he'd helped Kieran escape from Alice and Jasper made more sense. "Kieran, I—"

He held up his hand. "Please, don't. It's not like that anymore. I understand now, I really do. I still love you, Bella. I care about what happens to you, and I want to protect you and make sure you can never get hurt, but I'm not in love with you. To be honest, I don't really know if I ever actually was. It took coming here for me to finally get it."

"I still don't understand."

"It started when we caught up with Laurent and Irina."

He seemed concerned about continuing, so I nodded in encouragement.

"Jake and Jared destroyed Laurent."

I winced away from his words. I might have been a vampire—in theory, a blood-thirsty monster—but I didn't like to hear about senseless loss of life.

"After Laurent's death there was a moment where I was willing to consider granting her a second chance, but then she looked up at me with her red eyes. The wolves wouldn't let her live after they saw them and, to be honest, I supported their choice. As soon as Irina realized her fate, she fell to her knees and begged for her life. As the wolves attacked, she warned them about her family, her sisters, and promised they'd avenge her death."

"You fed like that once," I accused.

He looked ashamed. "I did. And I have you to thank for re-awakening my humanity. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have what I have now."

"Which is?"

"I came here to confront her sisters, to take whatever punishment they felt I deserved. The wolf pack offered to back me up, but I refused. I didn't want to risk their lives if the sisters were intent on revenge."

"But you risked your own?"

"I had nothing to lose. I came here thinking that the love of my existence had mated with someone else. I was ready to die."

I shook my head. I couldn't believe I had broken him so thoroughly.

"Don't feel bad for me, Bella. I know the truth now. I know that everything happens for a reason and it was all designed to lead me where I need to be."

"Here?" I asked.

With Tanya."

As he said her name his eyes softened and a smile crept across his lips.

"Tanya?" I asked. "Do you mean…"

I trailed off as his smile widened. His answer to my unfinished question was obvious, he was happier than I'd ever seen him.

"I came expecting death and found love instead."

I wondered if he now understood why there was never really a contest between him and Edward. I could see in his eyes a new contentment that had never been there before, that told me he did. I felt relieved that he'd experienced true love—not just the initial infatuation that had drawn him to me.

"I'm happy for you," I said. "I really am."

"Thanks, Bella. I have to say, I get it. I finally get why it all happened. I don't know how to explain it, other than to tell you all the facts, even those ones that are not very pretty."

I knew life wasn't pretty, and knew I'd never had to face half of the horrors Kieran had seen during his existence.

"There was a time, not long after learning the truth about what I was, when I felt like a god. With little effort on my part, I could see every person's greatest desire. I could take them to a place where those wishes could come true."

He sounded almost angry with himself.

"I thought that I was being generous by giving them their desires in exchange for their life-blood. I fooled myself for so many years that I was better than other vampires because I gave people a few fleeting moments of pure joy."

I couldn't believe what he was saying, the words were horrific, but so was the clear contempt he had for his old ways.

"Then I saw you. I saw the way Edward was when he turned away from your spilling blood. I began to realize that however noble I thought I was being, I was still cursing people with the same fate that could have easily been mine—an early death. A life unlived. I longed to have my humanity back but I didn't know how to get there. Seeing your deepest desires made me realize that the one thing I'd been looking for all along was love.

"I saw the way you loved Edward, and the way he loved you in return. Through the two of you, I felt things I'd never felt before. I thought what I felt was love."

"You nearly destroyed what Edward and I had because you thought you loved me?"

He nodded sadly. "I think I was in love with the idea of being in love. Certainly the reflection of love I experienced from you made me feel more alive than I had in a very long time. But like I said, Bella, I do love you. Since that day I discovered the real you, I learned what it was like being close to you. I felt affection for you, but I know now I was never in love with you."

I stepped closer to him and he stood. I reached for his arm, touching his shoulder lightly in a sign of support.

"Who would have thought we'd end up here." I grinned at him, knowing that despite the heartache and pain we'd caused each other, we'd emerged on the other side of it exactly how we should have. We'd both grown and become exactly who we were supposed to be—and found the people we were truly supposed to be with.

"You are my Rosaline," he said eventually.

I tilted my head in confusion.

"You are the one who opened my eyes to love, but Tanya is my Juliet; my indestructible, perfect Juliet. I really do have you to thank for it. Now that I've found her, I can't imagine my life without Tanya in it."

I still owed him for the chain of events that had led Edward back into my life and secured him by my side forever. "I know the feeling, so let's just call it even."

"Deal," he said with a smile.

We turned and headed back to our mates, ready to enjoy the rest of our respective eternities.

~ End ~

A/N:- I have a few apologies to make for this chapter.

Sorry it took so long and sorry it's not longer. I've had it sitting more or less (I've just made a few minor edits today) in this current state for a few months while I waited for the time and inspiration to finish it with a longer chapter. I have now admitted to myself that this isn't going to happen any time soon. I have new characters that I am playing with now, original characters and original settings, that are taking up so much of my time that I just can't dedicate the time to Bella and Edward that I would like. I wanted to finish this story though being that I've been so close to finishing for a while now. If you read His Bite, I have put that on hiatus because although I would like to finish it one day, I just can't see that happening any time soon.

Any o/s's that I planned on continuing will no longer be continued. I'm not trying to make a big deal of this, I'm not making any big announcements anyway, but rather I'm hoping to slide quietly into obscurity with little more than a 'thank you for reading'. It's been a blast writing FF & Twilight has brought so many wonderful things into my life that I can't even begin to explain them all.