DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The legends of the Quileute belong to them. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
It was the first day of the school year. And this year was going to be a challenge for my organizational skills, as I had four children to get ready. My boys were old hands at this, but for the girls it was their first day, and they were equal parts excited and terrified at the prospect.
Ephraim was no help to me on days like this; he might be nearly a hundred but he'd never learned how to braid hair. Or if he had learned he'd forgotten. And as usual, my little girls wanted to look EXACTLY the same. Same hairstyle, same ribbon color. I drew the line at the same dress though, their teacher needed to have some way to tell them apart.
Fortunately Bethany and Hannah wouldn't try to confuse anyone with who was who. Their older brothers were another matter though. One had a scar on his knee from one of his scrapes but you had to look hard for it. And they delighted in trying to confuse us. Over time we learned that the easiest thing to do was just to punish them both - they were equally likely to misbehave and I honestly didn't have the energy to play twenty questions with them.
I knew that twins ran in the Black family before I married into it but seriously, twin boys and then twin girls in the space of three years was pushing it. I would not have coped as well as I did without the help of the other Black women, who'd either had twins or were twins.
Faced with the prospect of being denied sex for the rest of his natural life, Ephraim buckled and took himself to the doctor after the girls were born. We were busy but we weren't going to get any busier if I had anything to do with it. And I could just handle what I already had.
The phone rang. I got up to answer it, but Eph beat me to the punch. I heard him pick up the receiver and say, "What's up, Chief?"
On the other end of the line was Billy. He had taken over as the Alpha and Chief of the tribe about six months after Bella and I were married, but he checked in with me daily to keep me up to date on what was happening.
I knew before the wedding that I was going to retire, but I didn't want it to overshadow the ceremony, or for Bella to think that she was driving me to make the decision. I had had more than enough of being the Alpha, and it seemed wrong to stay as Chief without that role.
Bill declined the chance to be Alpha as he also wanted to retire, and wind down his life with Judith. So Billy it was. Losing Sarah gave him more motivation to keep Cold Ones from our territory, and more time to devote to the cause, and he had taken the mantle of leader with such ease that even I, who knew his capabilities, was surprised.
After that it would be a matter of wait and see. Rachel, by virtue of being the eldest Black wolf of her generation and the first to phase, had the right to be Alpha after Billy. But a lot would depend on whether she wanted to remain a wolf for that length of time.
She could not be pregnant and phasing; it was not possible. And we didn't know whether a female wolf could stop phasing to have a child and then start again. Rachel was still young, only in her twenties, so there was time for her to decide. And as she would remain physically twenty-five as long as she was a wolf, maybe she could live a long life in that role, retire, and start a family. Perhaps she could go on a spirit quest and take guidance from our ancestors in the matter.
Whatever happened, the line was secure in Jacob, and in my own children with Bella. So I didn't spend too much time worrying about it, as there was not much to do in any case.
About once a year or so, the Pack would find traces of Cold Ones in or near our territory. As far as I knew, it was never a familiar scent that was smelled. It was more likely to be a nomad that had strayed into our area and was then dispatched, ruthlessly and without ceremony.
My greatest fear that the Volturi would show up had not as yet been realized. Jasper had always said that their lifespans were so great that to them we were mayflies and a century nothing at all. They might show up tomorrow and they might not arrive until all of the witnesses to the Forks Vampire Massacre were dead. Either way we just had to live our lives as quietly as possible and try not to worry about it.
Billy didn't have anything to report; just the usual goings-on on the Rez and happenings around our territories. We chatted for a little while, shooting the breeze, until I became aware out of the corner of my eye of Bella giving me the kind of sidelong glance that didn't promise anything good. I said my goodbyes to Billy and hung up the phone.
"About time old man," Bella huffed.
"Is there something you need, sweetheart?" I offered, not knowing what the source of her frustration might be.
"Do you need to ask? There are four children to be got out the door in the next twenty minutes and there's only one of me."
"Ah." I looked around me, and it became a little clearer to me what the problem was. Bella was struggling to get our girls sorted out and meanwhile the boys were running riot.
"Malachi Joseph Black! Nathaniel Charles Black! CUT IT OUT!"
The boys skidded to a halt, and looked up at me. They were seven, VERY seven, and never stopped moving. In their spare time they were the Avengers, but right now they were just motor-driven. I still had it though - I could stop them with my voice. That wouldn't last.
"Is that how you're going to school? In your pajamas? Because your Mom and I are leaving soon and if you're not ready you'll go as you are…"
They took off in the direction of their bedroom, and we had respite for a time until they came back out. I wandered over to Bella and the girls, kissing the heads of my babies, their glossy black hair having been tamed into plaits, and blue ribbons tied to each braid.
My heart swelled, and I felt as though it could not be fuller. But at the same time the moment felt bittersweet; my little girls, the girls I had finally managed to have and keep, were growing up. It was a part of life but if I could have, I would have kept them as my babies forever.
I put my arms around them and drew them to me, then leaned over to kiss their mother on the lips. A tender kiss, not the kiss of passion that we often shared, but one of my love for her, the mother of my children, the woman who had brought joy back into my life. I suffused it with everything I felt or could ever feel and she drew her arms around my neck and kissed me back. Life was good.
Later, after we'd taken the kids to school, dried the tears of Hannah Renee and Bethany Jane, and wiped some of our own from our eyes, we headed back home, arm-in-arm. Bella was too tiny to rest her head on my shoulder, so she liked to tuck herself into my side, and it felt good.
We wandered back inside the house and Bella headed for the kitchen to make a coffee. I said to her, "I can think of something better to do."
She winked, and sashayed over to me, her hips swaying as she walked.
"Can you now?" she purred.
"Yes I can," I growled, picking her up in my arms and carrying her to the bedroom, kicking the door shut behind us.
AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER...
FINAL AUTHOR'S NOTE:
Thanks again to my betas feebes86 and Mist, who have done some unbelievable work on this fic. My notes alone and chats are more than 40,000 words long. And thanks to those who helped along the way - they know who they are. Those who brainstormed, edited, hand-held and gave me a push when I needed it. Because when I started this I had no idea if I could write ANYTHING.
There are two banners for the ending to this story, prepared by the awesome Mist. One is for the wedding, which will ONLY be posted on Tricky Raven, and the other for this epilogue, which I will post on other sites and social media as well. If you want to see the first one with Bella's dress and you're not a member of TR, please feel free to cite me in your member application - joining is free and there are lots of wolf stories and original fics on there.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me - I first got the idea for this story in March 2012, and began posting in April that year. So it has been a part of my life for two years. And now that it is all over I can tell you all that the idea for the story was a thought that popped into my head when I was vacuuming. Just a silly thought, that the eerie glowing eyes of the children in Village of the Damned were not unlike those of the Cullens. I hope you liked it, thanks for reading!
I intend now to get back to finishing my other stories, although time is limited for writing these days, but I have Paul and Jasper stories in the works already, and have ideas for Caius and Edward as well. Maybe not all of those stories if they are written will be HEAs…