I do not own Twilight. I only own Mira Johnson and Zachary Cloud as well as Zach's packmates, Serenity, Felicity, and Eternity.
Chapter One: Witness
The sound of heels clicking on the hard tile floor echoed through the restaurant, which was already filled with the laughter of the patrons. Mira glanced around, her gold eyes taking in her workers that were doing their job flawlessly, knowing she was on the warpath tonight, her red hair trailing behind her like a fiery cloak. She had yelled out Zachary earlier for missing a spot on a dish he was washing, and the employees knew that when she snapped at Zach - her love, and that never happened - that things were bad. She saw some of the customers eyeing her attire. The black and gold Roberto Cavalli Suede and Brocade Ankle boots along with her mint velvet black do grunge macramé asymmetric hem dress with a small fitted leather jacket and a pair of Gunmetal Spike earrings.
She slowly walked back to the front of the restaurant, where Zachary was busy answering phones and filling up the date book. She knew they were booked solid for the next two months, so whoever was on the other end must have been furious. Then she realized that he was grinning and teasing someone, the date book forgotten. She frowned momentarily and saw him place a hand over his mouth to stiffle a laugh. She wrote it off immediately, sometimes his fellow pack members would prank call the restaurant, hoping she would answer so they could get on her nerves. She never let Zach's packmates get to her, she often found the calls amusing, but when she was in a bad mood… well, they knew better than to prank call for at least a couple weeks after catching her in a foul mood.
"Aw, you know you love me," she heard Zach tease someone and then a familiar screech reached her sensitive ears.
"ZACHARY! PUT MIRA ON THE DAMN PHONE NOW!"
Mira winced and shook her head when Zach looked at her, having pulled the phone away from his ear halfway during the shouting. "It's for you!"
Mira took the phone and shooed Zachary away. "Go do something useful, dog boy," she teased, netting a smile from him as he ambled off to do something semi-productive. She loved him, but he was lazy to a fault, that boy. "Hello, Alice."
Alice Cullen was one of Mira's closest friends. She was, as all vampires were, very beautiful. Alice was also petite, the shortest member in her family with her thin in the extreme and pixie-like features, netting her the nickname 'Pixie' from various members in the family, Zachary, and Mira herself. She had large eyes and long, delicate eyebrows. Her hair is cropped short, spiky, and inky black in color. Mira knew Alice as a very optimistic person who liked to do things her own way, which is usually the best way. She loved shopping and giving makeovers, but when you piss Alice off, you had better look out, otherwise her anger would take you by surprise.
"Mira!" Alice greeted, her voice returning to happy. "You're mutt has no manners!"
"I know, but I still love him," Mira replied. "As odd as it seems to you."
"Yes, well, I've seen so many odd things happening lately, you and the wolf are hardly as surprising as they come."
"Call me on my cell," Mira replied. "We can't discuss our interesting lives on the restaurant phone. Zach has customers to book!"
Alice murmured a reluctant agreement and hung up. Zach made his way back over and Mira moved from behind the front desk, giving him a soft kiss on the cheek before heading upstairs to the apartment above, cell phone in hand for when Alice called.
The phone buzzed just as she closed the door and Alice began her rant. "Alright, so since we last talked, Victoria created a newborn army about two weeks before graduation."
"Why am I just now hearing about it?" Mira asked angrily. "I could have come down with Zach and the pack to help!"
"We have enough wolves on our hands, thanks," Alice replied dryly. "Although we wouldn't have objected to you coming."
"Oh, come on," Mira muttered. "You love Zach's packmates and you know it."
"Well," Alice said, turning the conversation around. "I should get on with the story. The large number of newborns attracted the Volturi's attention, of course. We worked out a battle plan with the local wolf pack, and we fought. We won, no thanks to the Volturi, then Jane and her little posse show up, destroy the remaining newborns, one was named Bree, and she was a sweet little thing. Carlisle offered her shelter but the Volturi weren't as forgiving. Bella and Edward got engaged and then married. I was Maid of Honor -"
"I know, I was there for the wedding along with Zach and his pack," Mira laughed.
"Oh yeah," Alice said sheepishly. "Well on the honeymoon, Bella got pregnant. Of course, Edward wanted to get rid of it and Bella didn't. Therefore, Bella calls Rosalie, who in turn became Bella's protector. There were a couple of narrow escapes. I mean, Rosalie loves Edward as a brother and all, but she was not going to let him hurt that baby. Then not long after, the baby was born. Her name is Renesmee. After she was born, Bella was changed. Of course, a bunch of stuff happened during the pregnancy, but other than the fact that Rosalie and Jacob Black were always at each other's throats there's not much to report there. Here's the real kicker. Jacob imprinted on Nessie."
"Oh shit," Mira said. "How'd Bella take it?"
"She tried to kill him, but Seth took the blow for him," Alice replied.
"Poor Seth," Mira sighed. "And now? I know there's a reason you called."
"I'll save that for when Jasper and I get to the restaurant. We'll be there in about an hour."
"You drove all the way from Washington to Indiana? Are you insane!"
"No, I'm Alice," she said simply and hung up, leaving Mira stupefied.
- X -
She could see Zachary freeze, his eyes narrowed on the young girl who had walked into the restaurant. The girl looked around with cold, red eyes, her blonde hair pulled back into her usual bun. She caught sight of Zachary and sneered, brushing passed him and heading straight for Mira.
"Aro wants you with us against a new threat," she said promptly.
"And what is this new threat, exactly?" Mira asked calmly, trying to keep from ordering Jane out of her restaurant.
"An Immortal Child has been created in Washington," Jane replied.
"An Immortal Child?" Mira repeated incredulously. "I highly doubt that's the case, Jane. Perhaps Aro should investigate such claims before planning an attack. You wouldn't want to kill needlessly if your information turns out to be, oh, I dunno. Wrong."
"It is not wrong," Jane argued. "It comes from a highly reliable source."
"Irina Denali is hardly reliable," cut in a new, bell-like voice. "As many in our world know. She's a gossip, Jane. Anyone can see that."
Alice and Jasper had arrived.
Jane sneered at her and glanced back at me. "Are you with us or not? Aro will want to know."
"You expect me to join you when it's my family you attack?" Mira mocked with a smile. "Sorry, Jane dear. I'm afraid I have to pass."
"Your treachery will not be forgotten," Jane hissed as she turned on her heel and swiftly left the restaurant.
"Care to explain all this shit to me?" Mira asked Alice as soon as Jane was gone.
Alice nodded and the three of them, along with Zach headed upstairs.
"After Renesmee was born and Jacob imprinted on her, things seemed to be going fine. She's growing faster than most children, but that's no surprise since she's a human-vampire hybrid. She was out with Jacob one day and Irina was coming down here for some reason. She saw Renesmee and reported her as an immortal child to the Volturi. Now they are planning an attack to come and destroy her. We need help."
"Count on me," Mira replied immediately. "You are my family, all of you, and I stand with you to protect Renesmee."
"The pack will help, too," Zachary added. "I can speak to Timothy, the call is his, but either way, I'm still going. Mira's their extended family, and since you're her family, the same applies to all the Cullens."
Jasper nodded, a small smile coming to his face. Jasper was taller, much taller than Alice was, with golden honey blonde hair and the same gold eyes as Alice and Mira, and all the Cullens, really. He was muscular and lean, but not so much as their brother, Emmett. Like all vampires, he had inhuman beauty and purple like shadows under his eyes, which is an indication he was starting to get thirsty. He had many scars on his body from his life before he joined the Cullens, but none of them cared to talk about their previous lives.
"Alice and I have to go and get more help," Jasper said. "But from what I know, everyone who's helping is meeting at home. Careful about telling them we sent you - I do believe that Bella thinks we've abandoned them. We left rather abruptly and without warning."
"We'll say we heard it from a group of vampires passing through," Mira replied as Zach headed off to call his packmates. "Don't worry, the Volturi aren't getting anywhere near Renesmee even if I have to tear Aro's head off myself."
Mira had once been a member of the Volturi, but it was not a time she wished to remember. Aro had changed her when she was eighteen, her life only just beginning. At first, she resented it, but then her gift became known. She was a sponge. If she stayed in the presence of one vampire for a long period of time and they had a gift, she could easily learn that gift.
- X -
Mira, Zachary, and the pack arrived just as the Cullens and their other allies were preparing to head to the field where the battle would take place, or that's when Alice had said they would arrive. Mira had raised her hand to knock on the door, only to have it opened in front of her by Bella.
Bella blinked, her still red newborn eyes taking in her and the transformed wolves behind her. "Mira?"
Mira smiled and nodded. "Yeah. I hope you don't mind that I brought some reinforcements."
"No, we could use all the help we can get," Bella murmured. "We were just leaving. We're spending the night in the field where the battle's happening. We didn't expect you to show up, let alone with more wolves."
"Yes, well, when Jane appeared in my restaurant three days ago, I knew something was off," Mira replied. "Something about an immortal child in Washington. The family name didn't come up, but a passing vamp mentioned that it was the Cullens that the Volturi were coming after. I gathered the pack and well, here we are."
"Mira?" Esme asked as she appeared. "Oh, sweetheart!"
Mira hugged the woman who was as good as her mother tightly and said quietly. "Hi, Esme."
The welcome wasn't warm and that was understandable. They had much more important things to worry about and that was keeping Renesmee safe. Once the two packs had been introduced and Zach's packmates had the scent of all the other vamps, they headed for the clearing. Hours ticked by like seconds. The wolves and Renesmee slept while the vampires remained alert, in the case that the Volturi showed up earlier than had been predicted. It had snowed during the night, but they cold did not affect them and the others were in tents - their snores echoing in the night. Morning came and then the clouds blocked out the sun. Edward stiffened and hissed, causing all eyes to immediately swerve to the forest north of them.
The Volturi came into view, keeping in perfect step with one another as they approached - even the wives had come, which showed just how serious they were. Mira glanced at her own companions, having met many of the vampires aiding them in her travels away from her family before she had settled in Indiana. The wolves seemed more on edge than they did -and even though the packs were out of sight, we could still hear their heartbeats - but Zach remained right at Mira's side and she had her hand on his massive shoulder, her pale appendage nearly transparent in his snowy white fur. Jacob was near Bella, Renesmee nestled against his back.
The redcoats, the wives, the entire Volturi guard. Every single Volturi member was present and accounted for.
Jane's eyes met Mira's and she looked rather smug, her thoughts told Mira one thing: You will die here today, Mirabelle. You and your family of misfits are through.
The Volturi halted and the packs joined the vampires, lining up along the sides, Sam's pack had seventeen total wolves and lined up on the left side, while the pack led by Timothy Moon that also had seventeen wolves lined up on the right. Many from Sam's pack were still new at their roles as wolves and wouldn't be more burden than help if it did come to a fight. During the pause, Edward's breath speed up.
"Edward?" asked Carlisle cautiously.
"They're not sure how to proceed," Edward said quietly and many on our side paid close attention to what he was saying. "They're weighting options, choosing key targets - me, of course, you, Eleazar, Tanya, Mira -" Zach let out a soft growl when he heard his girlfriend's name. "Marcus is reading the strength of our ties to each other, looking for weak points. The Romanians' presence irritates them. They're worried about the faces they don't recognize - Zafrina and Senna in particular - and the wolves, naturally. They've never been outnumbered before. That's what stopped them."
"Outnumbered?" Tanya whispered incredulously.
"They don't count their witnesses," Edward continued. "They are nonentities, meaningless to the guard. Aro just enjoys an audience."
Mira caught sight of Irina, looking out of place among the Volturi and their witnesses. She should feel uncomfortable; this entire thing was her fault, after all. She seemed shocked to see her sisters with the Cullens. Served her right.
"Should I speak?" Carlisle asked.
After a brief hesitation, Edward nodded. "This may be the only chance you'll get."
"He's not going alone," Mira hissed quietly. "I don't trust a single hair on Aro's pompous head."
Carlisle motioned to his daughter. "Come with me, then, if you're going to throw a fit."
She smiled at him, knowing he was only trying to help her relax and she stepped forward with him, motioning Zach to stay where he was. The large white wolf huffed and narrowed his icy blue eyes on the Volturi, apparently finding them as untrustworthy as she did.
Carlisle spread his arms, holding his palms up as if in greeting while Mira stood behind him, eyeing the guard with irritation. "Aro, my old friend. It's been centuries."
It was obvious Aro had not expected a greeting. A few tense moments passed before Aro stepped forward out of the center of the Volturi's formation, Renata, who was a shield followed him. Seemed only fair, after all, Mira had stepped up with Carlisle. The Volturi reacted to their leader's movement, some of them scowled ad curled their lips back in a sneer while some guards leaned forward in a crouch causing Mira to let out a warning growl.
"Back off," she growled, eyes narrowing and she could hear Zach take a threatening step forward from his place in the ranks behind her. Timothy let out a sharp back and Zach stepped back again, growling in irritation.
Aro held up a hand and said, "Peace" before addressing Carlisle. "Fair words, Carlisle. They seem out of place, considering the army you've assembled to kill me, and to kill my dear ones."
"Paranoid," Mira muttered under her breath, glad her comment went unnoticed by most, all except for Emmett, who stifled a chuckle and Jane, who's eyes narrowed on her.
"You have but to touch my hand to know that was never my intent," Carlisle replied with a shake of his head as he extended his hand.
Aro's eyes narrowed. "But how can your intent possibly matter, dear Carlisle, in the fact of what you have done?"
"I have not committed the crime you are here to punish me for."
"Then step aside and let us punish those responsible. Truly, Carlisle, nothing would please me more than to preserve your life today."
"No one has broken the law, Aro. Let me explain." Carlisle offered his hand again.
Caius stepped forward before Aro could reply. "So many pointless rules, so many unnecessary laws you create for yourself, Carlisle," said the white haired ancient. "How is it possible that you defend the breaking of one that truly matters?"
"The law if not broken. If you would listen -"
"We see the child, Carlisle," Caius snarled. "Do not treat us as fools."
"She is not an immortal. She is not a vampire. I can easily prove this with just a few moments -"
Caius interrupted him. "If she is not one of the forbidden, then why have you massed a battalion to protect her?"
Mira rolled her eyes and let out an irritated hiss. This whole situation was beginning to piss her off. She was getting sick of Caius's bullshit and she was this close to doing something about it.
"Witnesses, Caius, just as you have brought," Carlisle replied, gesturing to the angry horde. "Any one of these friends can tell you the truth about the child. Or you could just look at her, Caius. See the flush of human blood in her cheeks."
"Artifice!" Caius snapped, obviously thinking that it was a trick to pull one over on the Volturi. "Where is the informer? Let her come forward!" He craned his neck, eyes settling on Irina. "You! Come!"
Irina was still dazed, and it wasn't until Caius snapped his finger's impatiently that one of the wives' guards stepped forward and nudged her roughly in the back. She blinked and then walked slowly toward Caius, stopping a good distance from him. He closed the space and slapped her across the face,
Tanya and Kate hissed. Mira let out a furious snarl and took a step forward but Carlisle held out an arm, stopping her. She was seeing red now, and she knew her gold eyes were probably darkening. Out of all her cousin, she was closest with Irina, who understood her relationship problems, mostly because Irina had been with Laurent. Someone who the Cullens weren't on very good terms with. She knew what it was like to have her love questioned and often helped Mira when things with Zach got tough.
Irina went rigid and her eyes focused on Caius. He pointed his finger at Renesmee who still sat on Jacob's back and the wolf let out a growl.
"This is the child you saw?" Caius demanded. "The one that was obviously more than human?"
Irina peered at Renesmee, looking confused as she tilted her head to the side.
"Well?" Caius snarled.
"I… I'm not sure," she said, perplexed.
"What do you mean?" he asked in a steely whisper.
"She's not the same, but I think it's the same child. What I mean is, she's changed. This child is bigger than the one I saw, but -"
Caius gasped furiously and he bared his teeth. Aro went to his brother's side and put a restraining hand on his shoulder.
"Be composed, brother. We have time to sort this out. No need to be hasty," Aro soothed and Caius took on a sullen expression, turning his back on Irina.
"Now, sweetling," said Aro in a warm, sugary voice. "Show me what you're trying to say."
He held his hand out to her and she hesitated only briefly before taking his hand. He held it for a few seconds before smiling slightly.
"You see, Caius?" he said. "It's a simple matter to get what we need."
Caius didn't reply and Aro glanced at his mob and then turned back to Carlisle. "And so we have a mystery on out hands, it seems. It would appear the child has grown. Yet Irina's first memory was clearly that of an immortal child, Carlisle."
"That's exactly what I'm trying to explain," Carlisle said, and Mira knew he was relieved, holding out his hand again.
Aro hesitated. "I would rather have the explanation from someone more central to the story, my friend. Am I wrong to assume that this breach was not of your making?"
"There was no breach."
"Be that as it may, I will have every facet of the truth," Aro said, his voice hardening. "And the best way to get that is to have the evidence directly from your talented son." He inclined his head in Edward's direction. "As the child clings to his newborn mate, I'm assuming Edward is involved."
Mira glanced back at her brother, seeing him kiss Bella and Renesmee's foreheads before turning to walk toward Aro, clapping Carlisle on the back and then pausing at Mira. He took her hand and squeezed it, whispering a stern 'behave yourself' before letting go and continuing onward. Mira could hear Esme let out a low whimper of terror, fear for Edward breaking through. Jane was smiling smugly, and Mira held back her want to rip the little vixen limb from lip and burn her. As Edward reached Aro, Bella let out a small laugh, and Mira figured Bella had caught onto something they hadn't and ignored it. Her brother halted a few steps from Aro, his chin tilted up arrogantly as he held out his hand. Aro took his hand without pause. When Aro did release his hand, he looked awestruck.
"You see?" asked Edward, voice calm.
"Yes, I see, indeed," Aro agreed, sounding almost amused. "I doubt whether any two among gods or mortals have ever seen quite so clearly."
The guard looked on in disbelief.
"You have given me much to ponder, young friend," Aro continued. "Much more than I expected."
He did not release Edward's hand and Edward's stance remained tense as he listened.
"May I meet her?" Aro asked with eager interest. "I never dreamed of the existence of such a thing in all my centuries. What an addition to our histories!"
"What is this about, Aro?" Caius snapped before Edward could answer.
"Something you've never dreamed of, my practical friend. Take a moment to ponder, for the justice we intended to deliver no longer applies."
Doesn't mean you're not looking for another reason to wipe us out, Mira thought, watching him carefully.
Caius hissed in surprise.
"Peace, brother," Aro soothed and then turned back to Edward. "Will you introduce me to your daughter?"
Edward nodded reluctantly and Aro spoke again, surprising almost everyone.
"I think a compromise on this one point is certainly acceptable, under the circumstance. We will meet in the middle."
Aro finally released Edward's hand and Edward turned to us and Aro followed, throwing an arm around Edward's shoulder as if they were a pair of high school chums. That annoyed Mira to no end, but she remained in her place near the group. The guard followed him, but Aro held up his hand and ordered them to hold, but they did not like that order, letting out hisses and snarls even as they did as told. Renata still clung to Aro and whimpered in anxiety.
"Master," she whispered.
"Don't fret, my love," he replied. "All is well."
"Perhaps you should bring a few members of your guard with us," Edward suggested. "It will make them more comfortable."
Aro snapped his fingers and nodded. "Felix, Demetri."
The two appeared at his side immediately and the five of them stopped in the middle of the field. Edward looked at Bella and called to her.
"Bella, bring Renesmee… and a few friends."
She nodded and chose Jacob and Emmett, adding Mira's name as she passed her. Mira fell instep with her brother behind Bella, and she could feel his excitement. Jacob seemed slightly tense but Emmett was grinning as if there was nothing to worry about and slung an arm around Mira's shoulder. Mira felt herself relax as well. Emmett had that effect one people when they were tense and she wasn't quite sure why.
"Interesting company you keep," Demetri murmured and a growl echoed from Jacob.
"Jacob, behave," Mira hissed and the wolf fell into a sober silence.
When the group stopped in front of them, Felix grinned at Bella and said something that indicated that they had met before. Mira's gaze focused on Demetri and he nodded to her politely.
"It's been, what, ten years?" he asked.
"Yes," she muttered. "Ten years since you nearly killed me. How could I forget?"
A growl came from the group - Zach had heard her reply. Demetri's eyes flickered toward the white wolf briefly but went to Aro when he began to speak.
"I hear her strange heart," he murmured. "I smell her strange scent." His eyes went to Bella. "In truth, young Bella, immortality does become you most extraordinarily. It as if you were designed for this life."
Bella nodded once.
"You liked my gift?" he asked, eyes shifting to her necklace.
"It's beautiful, and very, very generous of you. Thank you. I probably should have sent a note."
Aro laughed with delight. "It's just a little something I had lying around. I thought it might complement your new face, and so it does."
Jane hissed and drew Bella's attention.
"May I greet your daughter, lovely Bella?" Aro asked sweetly, regaining her attention.
Bella took two steps forward and Aro met them, beaming. "But she's exquisite," he murmured. "So much like you and Edward. Hello, Renesmee."
Renesmee looked at her mother for permission and Bella nodded.
"Hello, Aro," Renesmee replied finally.
Aro's eyes were bemused.
"What is it?" Caius hissed.
"Half mortal, half immortal," Aro announced to his brother and the guard without turning around. "Conceived so, and carried by this newborn while she was still human."
"Impossible," Caius scoffed.
"Do you think they've fooled me, then, brother?" Aro asked in amusement but Caius still flinched. "Is the heartbeat you hear a trickery as well?"
"Calmly and carefully, brother," Aro cautioned, still smiling at Renesmee. "I know well how you love your justice, but there is no justice in acting against this unique little one for her parentage. And so much to learn, so much to learn! I know you don't have my enthusiasm for collecting histories, but be tolerant with me, brother, as I add a chapter that stuns me with its improbability. We came expecting only justice and the sadness of false friends, but look what we have gained instead! A new, bright knowledge of ourselves, our possibilities."
He held a hand out to Renesmee but the child leaned forward and brushed her fingers against Aro's face. The man seemed delighted, unsurprised by her ability that he must have seen in Edward's thoughts. "Brilliant," he whispered in satisfaction.
"Please?" Renesmee asked as she settled back into her mother's arms.
Aro's smile turned gentle. "Of course I have no desire to harm your loved ones, precious Renesmee."
Edward's teeth grinded, obviously catching a thought that displeased him, but Mira did not wish to switch her current gift over to mind reading. She was happier with her ability of telekinesis and didn't plan to swap powers. She really wanted to hurl a large boulder at Jane and flatten the little thing if it escalated into a fight. Maggie hissed from the group behind them, obviously outraged by something.
"I wonder," said Aro thoughtfully, unaware of the responses he just provoked. His eyes moved to Jacob and then Zach and then back to Jacob, eyes filled with a longing that seemed creepy to Mira.
"It doesn't work that way," said Edward his tone now harsh.
"Just an errant thought," Aro said as he studied Jacob.
Edward seemed slightly frustrated. "They don't belong to us, Aro. They don't follow our commands that way. They're here because they want to be.
"They seem quite attached to you, though," said Aro. "And your young mate, and your… family. That large white one is rather protective of young Mirabelle -"
"It's Mira!" Mira corrected angrily, but Aro ignored her.
"So loyal," Aro finished softly.
"They're committed to protecting human life, Aro. That makes them able to coexist with us, but hardly with you. Unless you're rethinking your lifestyle."
Aro laughed merrily. "Just an errant thought," he repeated. "You well know how that is. None of us can entirely control our subconscious desires."
Edward grimaced. "I do know how that is. And I also know the difference between that kind of thought and the kind with a purpose behind it. It could never work, Aro."
Jacob's big russet furred heard swung toward Edward and he let out a soft whine.
"He's intrigued with the idea of… guard dogs," said Edward in a murmur.
Snarls erupted from the two packs and Mira turned and caught sight of hackles rising. She placed a hand on Bella's shoulder for a moment and then back away, hurrying over to Zach and trying to clam her furious mate. His eyes were hard as stone as he bared his teeth at Aro, looking formidable. A sharp bark came from Sam and the Quileute pack fell silent. A similar bark came from Timothy and the Potawatomi pack fell quiet as well.
"I suppose that answers that question," Aro laughed. "This lot has picked its side."
Edward hissed and leaned forward, Bella clutching his arm. Mira knew that Aro's thoughts were beginning to piss off her brother and the fact that he had considered the wolves guard dogs insulted her as much as them. She was close with Zach's pack and she treated them like family. They were her family and they were not something to be trained to guard the Volturi palace. Felix and Demetri crouched and Mira growled, suddenly wishing she had remained with Bella's group. Aro waved them off and everyone returned to normal postures, even Edward.
"So much to discuss," Aro said in an all business voice. "So much to decide. If you and your furry protector will excuse me, my dear, Cullens, I must confer with my brothers."
The Volturi pressed forward around Aro while Edward, Bella, Emmett, and Jacob retreated back to the group. Renesmee had grabbed Jacob's tail, forcing him to stay with them as they backed away. He had his teeth bared at Aro and his hackles were raised. He saw the man for the threat they all knew he was. No matter how he tried to sugar coat it, there was something in Aro's eyes that told them this was not over. Far from it.
Mira watched Caius intently as he argued with Aro.
"How can you abide this infamy? Why do we stand here impotently in the face of such an outrageous crime, covered by such a ridiculous deception?" he asked angrily.
"Because it's all true," said Aro calmly. "Every word of it. See how many witnesses stand ready to give evidence that they have seen this miraculous child grow and mature in just the short time they've known her. That they have felt the warmth of the blood that pulses in her veins." Aro swept an arm from one end of their group to the other.
Caius seemed nervous and Mira realized that the witnesses the Volturi had brought were now whispering amongst themselves, trying to make sense of all they had learned. He scowled and then he seemed to get lost in thought until his gaze finally landed on the wolves.
"The werewolves," he murmured at last.
"Ah, brother…" Aro seemed pained.
"Will you defend that alliance, too, Aro?" Caius demanded. "The Children of the Moon have been our bitter enemies from the dawn of time. We must have hunted them to near extinction in Europe and Asia. Yet Carlisle encourages a familiar relationship with this enormous infestation - no doubt an attempt to overthrow us. The better to proecte his warped lifestyle."
Edward cleared his throat and Caius glared at him.
"Overthrow you? Ha!" Mira mocked. "What would we want with a moldy old castle?"
Caius snarled but Edward drew his attention by speaking.
"Caius, it's the middle of the day," he said, pointing to Jacob. "These are not Children of the Moon, clearly. They bear no relation to your enemies on the other side of the world."
Mira tangled her fingers in Zach's fur and he pressed himself close to her protectively, eyes narrowed on Caius.
"You breed mutants here," Caius spat back.
Edward's jaw clench ad unclenched. "They aren't even werewolves. Aro can tell you all about it if you don't believe me."
"Dear Caius, I would have warned you not to press this point if you had told me your thoughts," Aro murmured. "Though the creatures think of themselves as werewolves, they are not. The more accurate name for them would be shape-shifters. The choice of a wolf form was purely chance. It could have been a bear or a hawk or a panther when the first change was made. These creatures truly have nothing to do with the Children of the Moon. They have merely inherited this skill from their fathers. It's genetic - they do not continue their species by infecting others the way true werewolves do."
Caius expression showed that he felt betrayed. "They know our secret."
Edward was about to respond but Aro continued. "They are creatures of our supernatural world, brother. Perhaps even more dependent upon secrecy than we are; they can hardly expose us. Carefully, Caius. Specious allegations get us nowhere."
"I want to talk to the informant," Caius announced, but Irina's eyes were once again trained on her sisters. "Irina!"
She looked up, startled. He snapped his fingers and she hesitantly moved forward from the group to stand in front of him.
"So you appear to have been quite mistaken in your allegations," Caius began.
Tanya and Kate leaned forward anxiously, and Mira did as well.
"I'm sorry," Irina whispered. "I should have made sure of what I was seeing. But I had no idea…"
"Dear Caius, could you expect her to have guessed in an instant something so strange and impossible?" Aro asked. "Any of us would have made the same assumption."
Caius silenced Aro with a flick of his fingers. "We all know you made a mistake. I meant to speak of your motivations."
Irina paused nervously and then asked. "My motivations?"
"Yes, for coming to spy on them in the first place."
"You were unhappy with the Cullens, were you not?"
Irina sent the Cullens a miserable glance and admitted, "I was."
"Because…?" Caius prompted.
"Because the werewolves killed my friend," she whispered. "And the Cullens wouldn't stand aside to let me avenge him."
"The shape-shifters," Aro corrected quietly.
"So the Cullens sided with the shape-shifters against our own kind - against the friend of a friend, even," Caius summarized.
Irina stiffened. "That's how I saw it."
Caius waited a few minutes and then continued. "If you'd like to make a formal complaint against the shape-shifters - and the Cullens for supporting their activities - now would be the time."
Mira didn't like the cruel smile on his face as she waiting for Irina to give him an excuse to wipe out the Cullen family.
Irina's jaw jerked up, shoulders squared. "No, I have no complaint against the wolves, or the Cullens. You came here today to destroy an immortal child. No immortal child exists. This was my mistake, and I take full responsibility for it. But the Cullens are innocent and you have no reason to still be here. I'm so sorry," she said to the Cullen family and then turned to the witnesses of the Volturi. "There was no crime. There's no valid reason for you to continue here."
"Well said," Mira said quietly and Irina sent her a brief smile.
Caius raised his hand as she was speaking, holding a strange metal object that was curved and ornate. It was a signal. Three of the guards leaped forward, shrouded by their cloaks as they ripped Irina to shred and then an inferno appeared as the soldiers leapt back, retaking their places in the guard's line. A click sounded as the fire shooting from Caius's hand disappeared.
Gasps echoed through the Volturi witnesses.
Caius smiled coldly. "Now she has taken full responsibility for her actions."
His eyes fell on Kate and Tanya's still forms.
"Stop them!" Edward cried as he jumped to grab Tanya as she lurched forward toward a smiling Caius with a cry of pure rage. She couldn't shake Edward off before Carlisle also had his arms around her.
"It's too late to help her," Carlisle told Tanya as she struggled. "Don't give him what he wants!"
Rosalie tried to grab Kate in a headlock, but Kate threw her to the ground before she had the chance. Emmett snagged Kate's arm and threw her down, staggering back as his knees have out. Kate was back on her feet just as Garrett tackled her. He locked his arms around his and his eyes rolled back into his head as she shocked him, but he did not release her.
"Zafrina!" Edward shouted.
The vampire successfully stole their eyesight from them. Causing their struggle to end.
"Give me my sight, back," Tanya hissed.
Zach let out a whimper, drawing the attention of the others to Mira. Her body was shaking furiously and her head was down, eyes closed. Her hands were clenched into fists at her side and the shaking didn't seem like it was close to stopping. Her head snapped up, her eyes the same shocking red of a newborns. Zach remembered her tale of how thirty years before she had met a vampire whose unique ability was to tap into his newborn power, and it had been as strong as it was when he was first turned. She had spent weeks learning from him to master the power, but she often lost control when she got extremely angry.
With a monstrous snarl, she leaped into the air, heading straight for Caius. He looked smug and she wanted nothing more than to tear him limb from limb and burn him as he'd mercilessly burned Irina. He, unlike Irina, deserved the fate.
A furry body crashed into her, knocking her to the ground a mere twenty meters from Caius, who was smirking. She caught the sight of Zach's ice blue eyes as he struggled to keep her down. The raw newborn strength was something he'd never had to deal with when she got angry. Another furry body landed on her helping hold her down.
Timothy - the pack leader.
The two wolves grabbed her by her clothes and dragged her back just as her sight vanished. She snarled again and thrashed against them.
"Zafrina!" she hissed angrily.
"Listen to me, Tanya, Kate, Mira," Carlisle said in a low, intense whisper, causing Mira to still. She hadn't when her father took that tone, for it usually held disappointment in it as well. "Vengeance doesn't help her now. Irina wouldn't want any of you to waste your lives this way. Think about what you're doing. If you attack them, we all die."
Zach's warm arms wrapped around her and held her close, her body shaking with dry sobs for tears that would never fall. He kissed her forehead softly, rubbing her back as he tried to console her. She could hear Tanya and Kate being comforted as well. It seemed like an eternity had passed before someone spoke again.
"Irina has been punished for bearing false witness against this child," Aro said softly.
"It wasn't her fault!" Mira snapped, glaring at the two brothers. "She made a mistake, everyone makes mistakes! It was no reason to - to - destroy her like that! It was completely unnecessary!"
"Perhaps we should return to the matter at hand?" Aro continued,
Caius straightened as Aro glided forward, Renata, Felix, and Demetri coming with him as he approached. Zach tightened his hold on Mira and Aro sent him an amused look.
"Fear not, I bear her no ill will for her attempted attack," Aro said calmly. "She was merely overcome by the loss of her best friend and cousin. It was completely understandable." His eyes went to Edward. "Just to be thorough, I'd like to speak with a few of your witnesses. Procedure, you know."
Caius looked at his brother and that cruel smile returned. Edward hissed, his hand balling into fists. It was obvious Aro had some kind of agenda. He approached the western end of the line, stopping ten yards from Amun and Kebi. The two wolves near him, both from Sam's pack, bristled. Mira recognized them as Collin Littlesea and Seth Clearwater.
"Ah, Amun, my southern neighbor!" Aro said warmly. "It has been so long since you've visited me."
"Time means little; I never notice its passing," Amun replied, standing motionless with anxiety, Kebi a statue at his side.
"So true," Aro agreed. "But maybe you had another reason to stay away?"
Amun remained silent.
"It can be terribly time-consuming to organize newcomers into a coven. I know that well! I'm grateful I have others to deal with the tedium. I'm glad your new additions have fit in so well. I would have loved to have been introduced. I'm sure you were meaning to come to see me soon."
"Of course," Amun replied emotionlessly.
"Oh well, we're all together now! Isn't that lovely?"
Amun nodded blankly.
"But the reason for your presence here is not as pleasant, unfortunately. Carlisle called on you to witness?"
"And what did you witness for him?"
Amun's voice remained cold and lacked emotion. "I've observed the child in question. It was evident almost immediately that she was not an immortal child -"
"Perhaps we should define our terminology," Aro interrupted. "Now that there seem to be new classifications. By immortal child, you mean of course a human child who had been bitten and thus transformed into a vampire."
"Yes, that's what I meant."
"What else did you observe about the child?"
"The same things that you surely saw in Edward's mind. That the child is his biologically. That she grows. That she learns."
"Yes, yes," said Aro with impatience in his amiable tone. "But specifically in your few weeks here, what did you see?"
Amun's brow furrowed. "That she grows… quickly."
Aro smiled. "And do you believe that she should be allowed to live?"
Bella, Mira, and half of the vampires in the Cullen line hissed in protest including a couple of warning growls from pack members on both sides. Even a few Volturi witnesses made the same noise. Edward had to grasp Bella's wrist to keep her calm. Aro paid the noise no attention but Amun glanced around.
"I did not come to make judgments," he equivocated.
Aro laughed lightly. "Just your opinion."
Amun lifted his chin. "I see no danger in the child. She learns even more swiftly than she grows."
Aro nodded and then turned away a moment later.
"Aro?" Amun called.
Aro whirled back. "Yes, friend?"
"I gave my witness. I have no more business here. My mate and I would like to take our leave now."
Aro smiled warmly. "Of course. I'm so glad we were able to chat for a bit. And I'm sure we'll see each other again soon."
Amun's lips tighted and he inclined his head at the barely hidden threat. He took Kebi's hand and the two ran from the line into the southern edge of the meadow, disappearing into the trees. Aro glided over to Siobhan and stopped in front of her.
"Hello, dear Siobhan. You are as lovely as ever."
She inclined her head, waiting.
"And you?" he asked. "Would you answer my questions the same way Amun has?"
"I would," Siobhan said. "But I would perhaps add a little more. Renesmee understands the limitations. She's no danger to humans - she blends in better than we do. She poses no threat of exposure."
"Can you think of none?" Aro asked soberly.
Edward growled and Caius's eyes brightened. Renata reached out protectively toward her master. Garrett released Kate and took a step forward only to have her reach over and caution him.
Siobhan answered slowly. "I don't think I follow you."
Aro drifted back toward his guard. "There is no broken law."
Mira nodded but was unsure of where he was going with this.
"No broken law," he repeated. "However, does it follow then that there is no danger? No," he shook his head. "That is a separate issue."
The band of Cullen allies seemed to become even more nervous as Aro began to pace, looking thoughtful. "She is unique… utterly, impossibly unique. Such a waste it would be, to destroy something so lovely. Especially when we could learn so much…" He sighed. "But there is danger, danger that cannot simply be ignored."
No one answered him and he took that as his cue to continue.
"How ironic it is that as the humans advance, as their faith in science grows and controls their world, the more free we are from discovery. Yet, as we become ever more uninhibited by their disbelief in the supernatural, they become stronger in their technologies that, if they wished, could actually pose a threat to us, even destroy some of us. For thousands and thousands of years, our secrecy has been more a matter of convenience, of ease, than of actual safety. This last raw, angry century has given birth to weapons of such powers that they endanger even immortals. Now our status as mere myth in truth protects us from these weak creatures we hunt. This amazing child -" he lifted his hand palm down as if to rest it on Renesmee even though he was yards from her. "If we could but know her potential - know with absolute certainty that she could always remain shrouded within the obscurity that protects us. But we know nothing of what she will become! Her own parents are plagued by fears of her future. We cannot know what she will grow to be."
He did a good job at pretended to be torn, Mira would give him that. But everyone could see through his false words, and he knew it.
"Only the known is safe," he continued. "Only the known is tolerable. The unknown is… a vulnerability."
Caius's smile widened.
"You're reaching, Aro," Carlisle said bleakly.
"Peace, friend," Aro said kindly. "Let us not be hasty. Let us look at this from every side."
"May I offer a side to be considered?" Garrett petitioned, taking another step forward.
Mira switched her gift from the ability to tap into newborn power to the ability to read minds, which she had learned from her time with Edward. She focused in on Garrett's thoughts and smirked to herself. He had quite the speech planned and it would put Aro in his place, or so she hoped.
"Nomad," said Aro, nodding his permission.
Garrett lifted his chin, eyes focusing on the Volturi witnesses, speaking directly to them. "I came here at Carlisle's request, as the others, to witness. That is certainly no longer necessary, with regard to the child. We all see what she is. I stayed to witness something else. You." he pointed a finger toward the wary vampires. "Two of you I know - Makenna, Charles - and I can see that many of you others are also wanderers, roamers like myself."
Mira watched Aro's face carefully for a reaction as Garrett continued, highlighting on the point that the Volturi were merely sticking around trying to find an excuse to destroy the Cullen and Denali families. He told how the Cullens and Denali were more than a coven, that they were a family and that they cared deeply for one another and wouldn't let the Volturi kill Renesmee. He mentioned how having truth on their side had yet to help because the Volturi would not stop until they had 'justice'. He questioned the nomads on who ruled them.
"I came to witness. I stay to fight. The Volturi care nothing for the death of the child. They seek the death of our free will. So come, I say! "
He continued, saying they all may be destroyed, or maybe not. Perhaps the two groups were more even than they knew. Perhaps the Volturi had met their match.
Aro smiled. "A very pretty speech, my revolutionary friend."
Garrett remained poised for attack. "Revolutionary?" he growled. "Who am I revolting against, may I ask? Are you my king? Do you wish em to call you master, too, like your sycophantic guard?"
"Peace, Garrett," said Aro tolerantly. "I meant only to refer to your time of birth. Still a patriot, I see."
Garrett glared at him.
"Give it a rest, Aro," Mira hissed stepping forward. Demetri moved, as if to intercept her, but Aro held up a had.
"Speak," he commanded.
"It's over, don't you see?" she asked, motioning around. "Your act fools no one. False words, fake promises that you will never keep. Your word which means nothing. All part of a clever ruse to try and outsmart your witnesses, to trick them into thinking the same way you think."
"Trick?" he smiled. "There is no trick."
"No law has been broken, you said it yourself," she continued. "We have no idea what Renesmee's future may hold, but you could learn from her, in case another like her is ever born again. You could learn whether her kind really are the threat you're making them out to be when you know nothing about them!"
"Let us ask out witnesses," Aro suggested. "Let us hear their thoughts before we make our decision. Tell us, friends -" he turned his back on the Cullen group toward his own observers who hovered anxiously to the edge of the forest. "What do you think of all this? I can assure you the child is not what we feared. Do we take the risk and let the child live? Do we put our world in jeopardy to preserve their family intact? Or does earnest Garrett have the right of it? Will you join them in a fight against our sudden quest for domination?"
Makenna, who Mira had also met briefly, looked at Charles, the blond male at her side. "Are those our only choices? Agree with you, or fight against you?"
"Of course not, most charming Makenna," Aro said, appearing horrified by her conclusion. "You may go in peace, of course, as Amun did, even if you disagree with the council's decision."
Makenna looked at her mate again and he nodded.
"We did not come here for a fight," she paused and then sighed. "We came here to witness. And our witness is that this condemned family is innocent. Everything that Garrett claimed is the truth."
"Ah," said Aro sadly. "I'm sorry you see us in that way. But such is the nature of our work."
"It is not what I see, but what I feel," said Charles. "Garrett said they have ways of knowing lies. I, too, know when I am hearing the truth, and when I am not."
He moved closer to Makenna, eyes frightened.
"Do not fear us, friend Charles. No doubt the patriot truly believes what he says," Aro chuckled and Charles's eyes narrowed.
"That is our witness," said Makenna. "We're leaving now."
The two left and four more followed, leaving without giving their witness. Aro seemed to sense he was losing support and turned away, walking to his guard.
"We are outnumbered, dearest ones," he said. "We can expect no outside help. Should we leave this question undecided to save ourselves?"
"No, master," they whispered in unison.
"Is the protection of our world worth perhaps the loss of some of our number?"
"Yes," they breathed. "We are not afraid."
Aro smiled and turned to his brother. "Brothers," he said somberly. "There is much to consider here."
"Let us counsel," said Caius eagerly.
"Let us counsel," said Marcus in a dull voice.
As the three brothers began council, the group kept their eyes one them as Bella and Edward said a goodbye to Renesmee, handing her off onto Jacob's back. Bella had arranged a way for the to get away with Alice's help. It was sad, and heartbreaking, and Mira would be damned if Aro ruined the family Bella and Edward were trying to keep together. They'd find each other again some day. The Cullen family would not die here.
"Is there no hope, then?" Carlisle whispered in acceptance.
Zach, back in wolf form, stepped up to Mira and nuzzled her cheek with his cold nose as the couples began saying their farewells as well. There was a chance some of them wouldn't make, but they would do there best to hang in there. She wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face in his fur.
"It's starting," Bella whispered a moment later even though there was no change in the three brothers' council.
"Chelsea is trying to break out bindings," Edward whispered, reading the enemy's thoughts, Mira doing the same. "But she can't find them. She can't feel us here. Are you doing that?"
Bella smiled grimly. "I am all over this."
"You have got to teach me how to use the shield after all this is over, Bella. Serious," Mira smiled then her eyes shot to Jane.
"Carlisle? Are you all right?" Edward asked.
"Jane." Edward answered.
"Incredible," Edward said.
"Impressive, Bella," Mira said quietly.
"Why aren't they waiting for the decision?" Tanya hissed.
"Normal procedure," Edward and Mira chimed together, but Mira let Edward explain. "They usually incapacitate those on trial so they can't escape."
Jane looked furious and Mira sent her a sweet smile as Bella increased power in her shield. Jane sent an attack straight at Bella but it didn't work and the small vampire let out a furious screech that made everyone jump, even the guard. The three brothers didn't even look up. Alec had to grab his twin's arm as she crouched to spring. The Romanians chuckled darkly and Mira had to laugh at Jane's expression. Oh, how the mighty were falling.
Then Alec tried his luck. A mist was oozing toward them, slightly warping the view with a hint of shimmer to it. Bella concentrated and Mira could only guess she was pushing out her shield. Benjamin noticed the mist and he tried to use his control over the wind to blow it away. The snow made his movements easily visible but the mist didn't budge, the wind had no effect on it. As Benjamin created a large gorge in between the two sides Alec's mist was unable to pass Bella's shield, and everyone was slightly relieved.
"Well done, Bella," Benjamin cheered quietly and Bella smiled.
The group began to divide who they would take down. Edward was going after Demetri, Kate was after Jane, Vladimir called Alec, and Tanya wanted Caius.
"I'll take Felix," Mira said.
Aro stared at them before speaking. "Before we vote. Let me remind you, whatever the council's decision, there need be no violence here."
Edward snarled and let out a dark laugh. Mira snorted and narrowed her eyes.
"Murderer," she spat, but he merely looked at her and her brother sadly.
"It will be a regrettable waste to out kind to lose any of you. But you especially, young Edward, and your newborn mate. The Volturi would be glad to welcome many of you into out ranks. Bella, Benjamin, Zafrina, Kate, Mirabelle. There are many choices before you. Consider them."
"Burn in hell," Mira retorted and Zach stepped out next to her with a threatening growl, ears flatted and hackles raised.
Aro's eyes swept over the large group, looking for any sign of weakness - the slightest hesitation, but he found none. The group stood united in their decision to protect Renesmee and he wasn't going to get to her if they had anything to do with it.
"Let us vote then," said Aro reluctantly.
Caius spoke first. "The child is an unknown quantity. There is no reason to allow such a risk to exist. It must be destroyed, along with all who protect it."
His eyes fell directly on Mira, a smile on his face. Zach snarled at him, teeth glistening. A sharp bark of command from Timothy made him fall back slightly, but he remained close to his mate, eyes watching the three brothers.
Marcus went next. "I see no immediate danger. The child is safe enough for now. We can always reevaluate later. Let us leave in peace."
The guard did not relax.
"I must make the deciding vote, it seems," Aro mused.
"Yes!" Edward hissed as he stiffened and Mira's eyes went to him. He'd obviously picked up a thought she'd missed, but then again, she had been focusing more on Caius's mind than those of the others. His outburst caused her to read everyone's thoughts.
ALICE! Mira and Edward exchanged grins. Alice had come through for the family, despite most of them thinking they had abandoned the family.
"Aro?" Edward called without disguising the victorious tone.
Aro hesitated, obviously wary of Edward's new mood. "Yes, Edward? You have something further…?"
"Perhaps," Edward said, trying to control his excitement. "First, if I could clarify one point?"
Mira smiled and caught Jane's eye, giving the blonde girl a wave, causing Jane to sneer at her.
"Certainly," Aro said, now politely interested.
"The danger you foresee from my daughter - this stems entirely from our inability to guess who she will develop? That is the crux of the matter?"
"Yes, friend Edward," Aro agreed. "If we could but be positive… be sure that, as she grows, she will be able to stay concealed from the human world - not endanger the safety of our obscurity…" He shrugged.
"So, if we could only know for sure," Edward suggested. "Exactly what she will become… then there would be no need for a council at all?"
"If there was some way to be absolutely sure," Aro agreed and Mira smiled. "Then, yes, there would be no question to debate."
"And we would part in peace, good friends once again?" Edward asked with a tone of irony.
"And without you trying to recruit us again?" Mira added, glancing at Edward who nodded at her.
Aro's voice was shrill. "Of course, my young friends. Nothing would please me more than to remain friends, although it would be a shame not to ask, at least once more, for you to join us."
Edward chuckled. "Then I do have something more to offer."
"She is absolutely unique," Aro said, eyes narrowed. "Her future can only be guessed at."
"Not absolutely unique," Edward argued. "Rare, certainly, but not one of a kind." After a short pause, he added. "Aro, would you ask Jane to stop attacking my wife? We are still discussing evidence."
Aro raised his hand. "Peace, dear ones. Let us hear him out."
"Why don't you join us, Alice?" Edward called loudly.
"You as well, Sereneity, Felicity, and Eternity!" Mira added as she caught the thought of her three closest friends mixed in with those of her sister's.
"Alice," Esme whispered in shock.
Alice's name was whispered through the group with different tones from shock to disbelief, to joy. Eternity's name also sounded, for she had once been one of the Volturi's best, until she left them high and dry when they tried to kill Felicity and Serenity, two of her descendants. She had managed to save the two girls and together, the three embraced the vegetarian lifestyle. Mira had met them only two years before when they had been passing through Indiana and stopped in to look around her restaurant, claiming that something about the place just pulled them in.
The sound of feet running through the forest and approaching quickly hit Mira's ears and she felt herself growing relieved. Alice had outdone herself this time, she had found another like Renesmee and now, Aro's excuse would be invalid, for they could now know what her future would be like. Alice entered the clearing, Jasper behind her, followed by three strangers that Mira did not know, and finally Eternity and her family entered. Alice leaped over the Alec's mist and landed between Edward and Mira, as many members of the family reached out to touch her arm just as the other seven joined the Cullen's group.
Mira lost her train of thought as the new witnesses were introduced, and Nahuel began his story. She would tune back in to catch some interesting parts, but otherwise let the story pass through one ear and out the other, though she knew if she ever had to repeat it, she would know it word for word, a special trait most vampires had. They had perfect memory. With his story, Aro seemed to be deflating little by little and that was promising. She kept her face expressionless, glancing back at Zach every few moments only to see that he was listening to the story intently, triumph shining in his icy blue eyes.
"You're daughter, is she venomous?" Caius demanded harshly, head turned to look at Bella.
Mira blinked and refocused now that the story was done.
"No," Bella replied.
Caius growled. "We take care of the aberration here, and then follow it south," he urged Aro.
Aro stared at Bella for a long moment before speaking. "Brother," he said softly. "There appears to be no danger. This is an unusual development, but I see no threat. These half-vampires are much like is, it appears."
"Is that your vote?" Caius demanded.
Caius scowled. "And this Joham? This immortal so fond of experimentation?"
"Perhaps we should speak to him," said Aro.
"Stop Joham if you will," Nahuel said flatly. "But leave my sisters be. They are innocent."
Aro nodded and turned to his guard with a warm smile. "Dear ones, we do not fight today."
The guard straightened out of their attack positions and Alec's mist disappeared. Mira kept her eyes on both him and Jane, not trusting either one of the false angelic faces. Aro turned back to them, seeming as if he had run out of tricks. Caius was unhappy. And Marcus was bored, as per usual with him. Nothing ever seemed to spark his interests. One after another, the Volturi witness disappeared into the woods, taking their leave. The guard and the wives, along with Caius and Marcus began to leave as Aro held his hands out to the Cullens, seeming apologetic.
"I'm so glad this could be resolved without violence," he said sweetly. "My friend, Carlisle - how pleased I am to call you friend again! I hope there are no hard feelings. I know you understand the strict burden that our duty places on our shoulders."
"Leave in peace, Aro," Carlisle replied stiffly. "Please remember that we still have our anonymity to protect here, and keep your guard from hunting in this region."
"Of course, Carlisle," Aro assured him. "I am sorry to earn your disapproval, my dear friend. Perhaps, in time, you will forgive me."
"Perhaps, in time, if you prove a friend to us again."
Aro drifted backward for a while before turning and taking his leave. No one in our group relaxed, even once he was out of sight.
"Is it really over?" Bella whispered to Edward.
"Yes. They're given up. Like all bullies, they're cowards under the swagger," he chuckled.
Alice laughed as well. "Seriously, people. They're not coming back. Everybody can relax now."
"Of all the rotten luck," Stefan muttered.
Cheers broke out. Howls filled the clearing as the wolves sang victory. Zach phased back to normal and picked up Mira, spinning her around as they both laughed. Alice and Jasper were subjected to one of Esme's killer hugs while Carlisle thanked the three South Americans who had arrived with Alice. When Zach let her down, she ran over to Eternity, Felicity, and Serenity and the three young girls hugged one another, laughing like there was no tomorrow.
"I can't believe you guys are here!" Mira said happily.
"When Alice found us and told us what was happening, we were reluctant to come," Eternity said. "Only because we do not have a good history with Aro and his brothers. But when we heard that you were coming to join the fray, we knew we had to offer assistance. You've helped us, and your family do not deserve the Volturi's condemnation."
It was over.
- X -
"Hard to be confident when you're surrounded by horse-sized wolves," Emmett laughed and poked Jacob in the shoulder.
Mira snorted from her spot on the loveseat, where she was curled up on Zach's lap, her head laying on his chest as Edward and the others talked about the battle.
"It was the wolves that stopped them in the first place," Bella said.
"True," Mira added.
"Sure was," Jacob nodded.
"Absolutely," Edward agreed. "That was another sight they've never seen. The true Children of the Moon rarely move in packs, and they are never much in control of themselves. Thirty-three enormous regimented wolves was a surprise they weren't prepared for. Caius is actually terrified of werewolves. He almost lost a fight with one a few thousand years ago and never got over it."
"So there are real werewolves?" asked Bella. "With the full moon and silver bullets and all that?"
Jacob snorted. "Real? Does that make me and Zach imaginary?"
"You know what I mean."
"Full moon, yes," said Edward. "Silver bullets, no - that was just another one of those myths to make humans feel like they had a sporting chance. There aren't very many of them left. Caius had them hunted into near extinction."
"And he'll keep hunting until he's positive they're gone," Mira finished standing. "Anyway, you lot have fun telling stories. I still need to hunt. I got seriously pissed off yesterday and I need to burn some energy."
She exited the door just as a classic Alice/Bella tirade began and she laughed before darting off into the woods that surrounded the Cullen home.
It was good to be back with her family, and that was where she'd be staying. She would sell the restaurant and move back in with them. Zach had already agreed to stay with her, but the pack would go back to Indiana, where they were still needed. She knew her family would be moving soon, it was about time to change location, but that was fine. She and Zach would go wherever they did. In addition, they wouldn't be the only ones joining them. Jacob was as well, along with Seth and Leah Clearwater, Brady Fuller, Collin Littlesea, and Embry Call. She wasn't sure why, but two of Zach's packmates, Jason Smith and Tori Martin would be joining them, as well.
A new beginning was about to unfold and with it, a new adventure.
A/N: … There's really not much to say, is there? Well, this chapter was a lot longer than I'd planned, but I wanted to capture the whole, Renesmee/Volturi conflict in the first chapter. Hm… Oh well.
Next Chapter: New Home: The new home of the Cullens has been selected, moving in, family feuds, a nasty incident involving Mira's favorite pair of shoes, pranks, national ANNOY EDWARD DAY, a totaled car, and the first day of school. Things are bound to be amusing.