We left for Italy later that day, seeing no point in wasting any more time. Armed with Edward's astoundingly brilliant plan of "You go right, I'll go left, and let's meet in the middle," we set out to bring the reign of the existing Volturi leadership to an abrupt and anti-climactic end, just as Alice had envisioned. Aro had anticipated a visit ever since Edward allowed himself to be captured by the Institute, fully expecting an accounting of the personnel and facility. He couldn't wait to hear a first hand report, as he was delighted with Edward's enterprise and forethought to change such a high-ranking member of the vampires' enemy camp.

They never suspected a thing.

A guard led us to his own doom, escorting Edward and me to the main chamber under the ancient city of Volterra where Aro, Caius, and Marcus held court. Edward grabbed the guard's arms, and I tore his head off before opening the huge wooden doors and walking confidently into the chamber—directly toward Jane. Edward had described her to me, and really, I couldn't miss the tiny blond girl standing next to an equally small boy near the raised center dais. A fleeting expression of surprise made her appear even younger before a calculating smile revealed the monster lurking behind guileless, childlike features. Shock opened her baby reds wide when her ability had no effect on me, and she grabbed her brother's hand as I swept toward them with a laugh. With the talent to shield myself and newborn strength, and Edward's singer-enhanced abilities, it was just that easy.

Five heads met in the center of the room over the drain, the two I'd wrenched off Jane and Alec, the three Edward had liberated from the triumvirate of Volturi leaders. After a second, three more joined the pile—the bodyguards. I sent a scowl at Edward for showing off, but pride warmed my cold heart.

My little overachiever.

He stood with hands on his hips and surveyed the crowd of cowering vampires gathered in the hall. Well, most of them cowered.

A large guard exchanged a look with a looming circle of six others wearing the same insignia. Edward's fingers twitched, motioning me closer, and I experienced a brief moment of trepidation. Had Alice's visions failed after all? Could even Edward take on all seven hulking, experienced fighters of the Volturi Guard? I started to slide into a crouch but froze with surprise at the hefty vampire's next move. He met Edward's direct gaze as he slowly dropped to one knee, placing fist to forehead and touching chin to chest. Edward grunted, the sound one of pleased surprise, and we both glanced around as the other guards dropped to imitate the pose. A loud rustling filled the cavernous dome as all the vampires suddenly knelt as well, and we gazed out over a sea of prostrate forms and bowed heads.

What the hell? I mouthed, and he shrugged, looking suspiciously complacent.

Of course. He'd seen Alice's visions, had expected the reaction, the brat. I recalled her warning glare and cryptic comment about him having more decisions to make, but I knew better. I knew him better. He'd made his decision the minute he realized he wasn't going to die at the hands of the Volturi Guard. I narrowed my eyes, and he just grinned with a shrug. The body at his feet—Aro? Caius?—flopped over at a nudge from his toe, and he bent to strip the long, dark cloak of office from the armless, headless corpse.

"Well. I guess that ends Aro's plans. The next Uprising will be on my terms. Burn this. Immediately." He indicated the carnage strewn across the stone floor, and the guards jumped to do his bidding.

Edward stalked gracefully to the shallow steps, mounting them slowly and with great effect, swirling the cloak around his broad shoulders. The words to Dylan's "Times They Are A Changin" filled the room in his deep baritone, and he paused in front of the center throne before turning to appraise the display of obsequiousness spread out before him. He made great show of smoothing the collar of the cloak, sweeping the tails out of the way as he sat in the ornate seat of ancient power and supremacy. Nothing had ever fit him better.

"My love," he murmured, red eyes gleaming, one long-fingered hand extended in my direction. "Won't you join me?"

I'd join him anywhere. Whatever his clever, conniving brain came up with—using humans as blood-slaves or living in harmony, it didn't matter to me. Our existence together, that was the landscape. Everything else was just details.

Long live the king.


Edward hasn't shared his plans for the Uprising with me *yet*, but I imagine they're dastardly. When he does, I'll definitely let you know.

Thank you so much for reading and for the comments and reviews, the recs and conversation.

As always, thanks to SunKing and Sarahsumbrella for their beta and support. SunKing has some fluffies on her profile she's written recently if you'd like to check them out.

Some goodies I've read:

My Sweet Variable by LifeInTheSnow - teenage assassins and great details. I enjoy her stories.

Nightfall by MySlashyFriend - gave me serious alternate-Twilight-world happies. What if Bella was a boy? Lovely canon Edward.