This is the final chapter for Time Makes all the Difference! Thank you to everyone for being so patient; I know these final chapters were a long time coming. And thanks for all the reviews; I really appreciate any feedback!
CHAPTER FORTY ONE
The meeting between the old/new pack and the vampires gave us no good news. Carlisle Cullen confirmed everything that Edward had said; a vampire army was heading to Forks because of the wolves. The boys therefore had three options: join them in Italy as their protectors; be killed; or fight.
The boys were relishing the opportunity to fight 'real-life bloodsuckers', but me and the other mums were all understandably terrified at the thought. The pack was now eight strong; the Cullens' proximity had once again triggered the Quileute boys' internal instinct to phase, and all of our sons were now protectors of the tribe. Jake and the others had been determined to try and phase to help in the fight but Alice, the psychic vampire, had managed to persuade them not to. She had given us details of the future she had seen; all of us had been waiting at the treaty line but the older generation were all still human. She couldn't tell us the outcome of the battle because she hadn't seen it, which meant that whatever Carlisle said to the Volturi beforehand would determine the result.
The four weeks we had been given passed by in a blur of combat training, and before any of us were fully prepared we were standing in the clearing that represented the ancient treaty line, awaiting the arrival of the Volturi. As I stood there with everyone I loved, it occurred to me that this could be the last time we all saw each other. We had all been so busy over the past month that I hadn't actually given much thought to this day, but now that the time had arrived I couldn't think of anything else.
I looked over to my boys; two huge, identical, russet wolves. Surely this couldn't be the last time I would see my babies? It just wouldn't be fair if I didn't get another opportunity to appreciate their beauty, and how much they reminded me of their father.
I glanced at my little Sarah, who was standing beside me and clutching my hand tightly. Only, she wasn't so little anymore. She was just as tall as me now, maybe even an inch taller. Her perfect dark skin was exactly the shade of Jake's, but her eyes and hair had definitely been selected from my gene pool. Her wide chocolate brown eyes looked into mine for a moment exposing her fear. I offered her a tight smile, and she squeezed my hand in response. What kind of a cruel world would cut off my amazing girl in the prime of her life? She had so much to look forward to; the promise of a happy life with Sammy, just like the life Jake and I had been given.
Jake. My Jacob.
He was holding Sarah's other hand, and I found myself craving his touch. We had been happily married for almost 20 years; who should have the right to take that milestone away from us? Our friends were already planning the party! I imagined it as I studied his face for what might have been the last time. It would undoubtedly involve a huge bonfire on the beach with enough food to feed a small country, and enough of Quil Senior's moonshine to make even the wolves tipsy. It was our tradition, and had been the pack tradition before I had even moved to Forks.
What a good decision that had been. The loss of Renee still caused me pain, but I couldn't regret my decision to come and live with Charlie. No matter where we were at the end of today, I had no regrets. I lost my Mum, but I rediscovered the bond with my Dad and we were closer than ever. I had found my soul mate, had three beautiful children, and had been able to run a successful business while putting my culinary degree to good use.
No matter what happened, I couldn't deny that I had had a good life. I wasn't particularly rich, and I wasn't famous. But I had spent my life surrounded by people I loved, and no one could take that away from me. Not even the oldest vampires in the world. If they wanted to take my world away from me, they were going to have a big fight on their hands.
Just then something invisible seemed to happen around me, and I could've sworn the temperature dropped a few degrees. Something shifted ahead, and the wolves began to growl. A second later the men all stood up straighter, obviously seeing something I was too human to make out. Another few seconds passed before I could see it too; about 20 figures had entered the clearing. Pale, cold, and no doubt red-eyed.
There was suddenly so much that I wanted to say to everyone, but the opportunity was gone. Instead I gave Sarah's hand a squeeze, and exchanged a quick look with Jake. He'd know what I wanted to say, just as I knew what he was trying to tell me.
I love you.
It was killing me that I couldn't comfort Bells, but I needed to concentrate. If we were going to intimidate this creep, we needed to show that we were united and focused. I quickly glanced amongst the ranks; us mere mortals were at the back of the pack, protected by the wolves. The boys. My sons. Not even old enough to look after themselves a few weeks ago, yet here they were protecting our whole tribe. A surge of pride burst through me, masking some of the dread that had seized my heart since the moment I saw Edward Cullen outside Charlie's house.
The Cullens were at the front of the group, and I could already see that their presence had shocked the group of bloodsuckers that were making their way across the clearing. They came to a stop about 100m away from us, and there was a long silence. I think they were sizing us up; seeing if they would be able to take us if we attacked. Carlisle had told us that some of the 'guard' had special abilities, but the wolf inside me was sure we could beat them.
Finally Carlisle stepped forwards a few metres, and started off the show.
"Aro. It has been a long time, old friend."
"Carlisle. Indeed it has. I did not expect to see you here; this is no concern of yours." The creepiest looking leech spoke from the middle of the group. He had long black hair, and I could see how red his eyes were even from this distance. Scum.
"Alice saw what you had planned during one of her visions. I thought I should come along and advise you against what you are about to do."
"So you and your clan side with the werewolves, Carlisle?"
"They are not werewolves, as I am sure you're already aware. They are shape shifters, created to protect their tribe from our… species."
"How strange then that they should join forces with you to conspire against us. What do you gain from this, Carlisle? Do you wish to seize control of the Volturi? Do you plan to overthrow us?"
"No of course not, Aro. I have merely come here today to try and prevent the spill of innocent blood."
"You expect me to believe this story do you? Without proof…"
Carlisle turned around then to face his 'family', and after a second Edward and the big one stepped forward to join their leader. The three of them crossed the distance to Aro, and Carlisle held his hand out to him. They looked like they were shaking hands for a moment, but then Aro released him and I remembered what we had been told about his special ability.
"Very well, I see you mean me no harm. Unless I intend to harm anyone here. Which brings me to the reason we travelled all this way; the werewolves." There was a rumble of growls from the boys, but they didn't seem to faze him. "I have seen that you already know of our offer. So, what will it be? Will you join my guard, or will you sentence your people to their deaths?"
There was a much louder growl then, and the boys started snapping and baring their teeth at the evil leeches. I wished for a second that I still had that power; when you are a wolf you feel invincible. Instead here I was, trying to think of a way to outrun the vampires with my wife and my little princess. Could it be done?
"But Aro, you fail to realise that the wolves are under no obligation to follow your orders. They were created with one purpose; to kill vampires. There are no specifications for that; the only reason we can live in harmony is because of our lifestyle. Any vampires who drink human blood are effectively the wolves' prey." Carlisle told the leader. He didn't look happy with the information, which I hoped meant good news for us.
"You," he suddenly said, pointing a pale finger at CJ. "What would you do if we were to take you to Volterra with us?"
There was a long stream of growling from CJ which the other wolves appeared to agree with, and then I almost laughed out loud as Will and CJ bumped heads in a wolfy high five.
I could imagine what CJ's response had been, but I didn't need to for long as Edward offered to translate for him. "He says he would take out as many… vampires… as he could before they got him." I couldn't hide my smirk this time; that was exactly what my answer would've been, minus a few expletives of course. I risked a quick glance at Bells, who was watching our boys with a proud smile. Aro seemed to ponder his answer for a long time before responding.
"And if I were to kill every member of your tribe?"
My stomach dropped as we all stood and listened to the growling response, quickly translated by Edward.
"No matter who you kill, we will still never work for you. But if you touch one person here, we will kill all of you."
The vamps surrounding Aro all started to look a little worried then, and I saw a couple even take a few strides away from us. Aro remained motionless, staring at CJ who was growling ominously.
"Maybe I will call your bluff."
Suddenly the little psychic Cullen skipped forward, a big grin on her face. "If you would like Aro, I can show you what will happen if you start this war. I assure you, it does not bode well for you in particular." She skipped over to him, holding her hand out, and he actually hesitated to take it this time. He shoved her away after a couple of seconds, looking even paler than before if that were possible.
"Very well, I can see that you cannot be convinced to join me, even though I intend to put your abilities to good use. I will have to find some other… species to join my guard."
"Yeah, you will." I growled, surprising even myself with how animalistic I sounded. "Find some other dogs to do your dirty work!"
To my absolute relief the Volturi started to disappear back into the trees, and our group erupted into a loud chorus of cheers and growls. It seemed that only Bells had still got some sense.
"Wait! Alice, what do you see? Are they going to come back?"
The little vamp's eyes went unfocused for a few seconds, then she smiled. "Nope, they've well and truly been scared off!"
"What if Aro changes his mind though, the future will change won't it?"
"Don't worry Bella. As long as your descendants are on this planet, I will keep a check on Aro's decisions."
"That's good enough for me!" I yelled, picking Bells up and spinning her round while she laughed happily.
That night we had to celebrate, which obviously meant a pack bonfire on the beach. It was the best night I had had in a long time; everyone was so carefree and blissfully happy, and we were all so appreciative of how lucky we had been. Sarah wanted to sneak off with Sammy but Bells was the strict parent this time, not wanting to let any of our kids out of her sight. For once Sarah didn't argue and she seemed happy to spend time with her folks and her annoying little brothers. As I sat by the fire with Bells on my knee, I said a silent thank you to my descendants who had started off this whole wolf business. Sitting there with my family, I truly appreciated what being a part of the pack had done for me. Bells, my kids, my friends; we were all so close because of the bond we shared. I had always resented the 'gift' I had been given, especially as a teenager, but now I realised I wouldn't have changed a thing.
Sure, life would've been much easier without the bloodsuckers.
But it wouldn't have been half as fun.