"Honestly Edward, I'm fine now." I whispered to him as he held me close to his side. When my parents and Sirius had gone, Edward had comforted me as I sobbed. Finally, I had calmed down, and we were on our way back to the castle, but Edward still didn't believe that I was OK.
He leaned down and placed a kiss on my forehead. We walked in silence for a while, just enjoying the other's company. The sun had risen and was now shining brightly above us, casting it's rays on our skin, making us glitter brilliantly.
"I don't think I'll ever get used to that." Edward breathed as his lips brushed my face. "So beautiful."
I smiled up at him. "I expect that the Weasley's will be back now, and Remus and Tonks. We'll have to tell them about Renesmee."
He nodded. "How do you think they'll take it?"
I sighed. "I have no idea. It's Remus I'm most worried about. He has always been a bit . . . protective of me. Actually, everyone seems to be protective of me."
"They all care about you so much, Bella, and they all want you to be safe."
Chuckling, I said, "Sounds like someone else I know . . . "
Edward laughed and dropped his arm from my waist, and instead took my hand. "You're right, I suppose I have been known to . . . overreact slightly when it comes to your safety."
I raised an eyebrow. "Slightly?"
Rolling his eyes, he said, "I thought I was doing the right thing. At the time, anyway." He stopped and stared intently into my eyes. "Your safety means everything to me, Bella."
I smiled, standing on my toes so I could reach his lips. Even then, he was still too tall, so he bent his head to kiss me. When we broke apart I leaned my face against his chest, and he rested his chin against the top of my head. His arms snaked around my waist and he held me tightly.
"You know, I never realized how short you are - "
I slapped my hand against his chest. Not using enough force to hurt him, or myself, but enough to make him stumble. Turning, I started to walk back to the castle on my own. A second later, after his laughter had subsided, I heard his footsteps getting closer and closer.
"I'm sorry, Bella." He chuckled. "Although I'm sure you were never this short as a human - "
"Edward!" I shouted, which only made him laugh harder. I glared at him, arms folded across my chest, trying to hold back a smile. It was very rare for Edward to be this carefree, and though it was at my expense, I was loving every second of it.
Still laughing, he said, "Come on, my vertically challenged wife," I growled playfully, "everyone else has already gone back."
"There you are!" Alice exclaimed. She, along with the rest of the Cullens, were waiting for us in the entrance hall. "We didn't want to go in without you, Bella."
I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. "Why not?"
She looked sheepish. "Well, uh, we don't know how they will take to us, and uh - "
I chuckled. "Don't be ridiculous!" I started for the door. "Come on, lets go."
The Great Hall had emptied dramatically during our hunt. The only people in the room now were the Weasley's, minus Ron and Fred, McGonagall Kingsley, Remus and Tonks. The latter pair were stood away from the others, talking among themselves. Remus was holding a small baby boy in his arms, who I recognized as Teddy Lupin. My dead heart swelled with joy at the thought of meeting my Godson.
Before I could say anything, I was swept into a hug by Tonks. "Wotcher Bella! My, you've certainly changed since I last saw you!"
I laughed. "That I have."
She pulled back from the hug and placed her hands on my shoulders. "Now, when are you going to introduce those beautiful people standing behind you?" She grinned.
Letting out a chuckle, I turned to my family. "Tonks, I'd like you to meet Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, Alice, Carlisle, Esme and Edward Cullen."
"Everyone, this is Nymphadora Tonks." Tonks glared at me, her hair turning a brilliant red.
"Do not call me Nymphadora, Isabella Lily Potter!"
"It's 'Cullen' now, actually."
She gaped at me, her eyes widening so much I was frightened they were going to pop out of their sockets.
"You – you got married?!" I nodded. "To who? No, let me guess . . . " Her eyes scanned over the Cullens, before they rested on Edward, who stood alone, watching me. "It's this one, isn't it?" I nodded, smiling widely.
She shook her head. "Wow, you really have changed . . . "
I laughed. "Are you going to let me meet my Godson or not?"
She grinned, her hair turning back to bubblegum pink. "Of course, of course!"
Remus appeared in front of me, holding the most adorable little boy in his arms. It was the same little boy from the photograph, with the same bright blue hair. His eyes were a light blue colour, just like Remus's, and they shone as he grinned at me, waving his arms wildly in my direction.
"Teddy, I'd like you to meet Bella Po – I mean, Bella Cullen, your Godmother." Remus said, handing over the little boy. I took him in my arms, holding him against my hip.
"Hello Teddy, it's so good to finally meet you." I cooed.
He giggled and began patting my face, making me giggle back. I looked up to Remus and Tonks. "He's incredible."
Remus looked at his son fondly. "Yes, he is."
When I looked back to the boy in my arms, I gasped in surprise. If I didn't know any better, I would have said I was holding a completely different child. My child. Behind me I heard the gasps of my family.
Teddy, being a metamorpmagus, had changed his appearance. His blue hair had turned brown, with hints of red, to look like mine and his eyes changed to a deep butterscotch colour, making him look like he could be my son.
"How on earth . . . ?" Carlisle muttered. I turned to face him.
"Tonks is a metamorphmagus, and Teddy inherited the gene. You saw how Tonks changed her hair colour before?" He nodded. "Well, they both have the power to change their appearance."
Emmett chuckled. "Damn Bells, and just when I thought things couldn't get any weirder."
I smiled. "You all have a lot to learn about the Wizarding world."
By now the Weasley's, McGonagall and Kingsley had joined us, and were smiling fondly at Teddy and I.
"How's Fred, Mrs Weasley?" I asked.
She smiled kindly at me. "Oh, he's just fine, dear! I'm afraid he won't wake up for a few more days, but he is going to be alright."
I grinned. "That's good to hear." I handed Teddy over to his mother and turned to Kingsley.
"Hermione said you wanted to speak with Harry and I?"
He nodded. "Yes, I believe we have some things to discuss. Do you know where Harry is?"
"I sent him to get some rest, he looked exhausted."
"I can hear them now. They are all on their way here." Edward stated.
Everyone looked at him startled. "What do you mean you can 'hear' them?" Bill asked, as he eyed my husband suspiciously.
"I, uh, I can hear their minds." It was so uncommon to see Edward nervous.
"Edward can read minds." They all looked at me, shocked. "Well, he can't read my mind, or your's, Remus."
Remus looked deep in thought for a moment. "Occlumency." He muttered, and I nodded my head.
"Well, it looks like there is a lot that we can learn about these vampires also." said Kingsley. "We can discuss things in the meeting. I assume you will be joining us?"
Carlisle acted as spokesperson, as usual. "Yes, I suppose we will."
McGonagall nodded. "Very well. Potter - " She began, before chuckling. "Old habits die hard, I guess. As I was saying, I think we should continue up to the office. I have already informed Miss Granger of the whereabouts of this meeting, so they should know where to go."
Mr Weasley nodded. "Bill, Charlie, George, Percy and I are going to check on the burrow."
"I'll come with you," Ginny started, but Bill shook his head.
"We don't know what state it will be in, Gin. It will best if you stay here for now."
Ginny huffed and stomped to my side, muttering to herself. "Always so bloody over protective."
I wrapped an arm around her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "Come to the meeting with us, Gin. I'm sure . . . somebody will be just dying to see you!" I smirked.
She flushed red, causing everybody, mainly George and I, to snicker. "Look at that Bells, she's blushing!"
"Well, we all know how our Ginevra feels about Harry, don't we?" I grinned evilly at George.
"I believe we do!" He then turned to face everybody else. "You see, when Ginny was an ickle first year, she wrote a marvelous Valentine's Day card to a Mr. Harry Potter! How did it go again, Bells?"
Still with my arm wrapped around her shoulders, I pretended to be deep in thought. "I believe it started with something like, 'His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad."
"Ah yes, that's it! 'His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad, his hair is as dark as a blackboard."
I continued on, "I wish he was mine, he is really divine."
George and I spoke the last line together, "The hero who conquered the Dark Lord!"
We looked at each other for a second, before bursting into peals of laughter. We were soon followed by everybody else, even the Cullens, everyone except Ginny. From the corner of my eye, I could see Edward gazing at me, a loving smile on his face. The Cullens had never seen me act like this before. Although I loved them all, and I loved Edward with every fiber of my being, this was my home, where I could truly be myself, something they had yet to witness.
When the laughter died down, Ginny, who was still a brilliant shade of red, said, "It's really not that funny." Then she spoke directly to me. "Bella, I swear you have spent far too much time with Fred and George."
I shook my head, still chuckling slightly.
"Well, we best be off!" Mr Weasley said. He gripped his wand in his hand, about to apparate.
"Wait!" I shouted, turning to look at Edward. "I think we should tell them now, about Renesmee." I told him through my mind. He nodded and came to stand by my side, taking my hand in his.
"There's, uh, there's something we need to tell you all."
"What is it Bella, dear?" Mrs Weasley asked, her face covered in worry.
"Well, uh - " I sighed and took an unnecessary deep breath, thinking of the best ways to tell them. "Tonks, you're not the only one to get pregnant this past year."
All of them gaped at me. "Bella, what . . . ?" Tonks began, but she didn't get to finish her sentence, as the doors to the Great Hall were pushed open.
"Mommy! Daddy! You're back!"
"How – how is this possible?" Remus asked. "Vampires can't conceive . . . "
"I was human when Renesmee was . . . conceived."
When Renesmee, along with Jake, Harry, Ron and Hermione had walked into the hall, everyone had stood in silence, just staring at my daughter. Renesmee didn't like that and had decided to introduce herself to everybody. Already I could sense they were warming up to her, it was impossible not to.
"But she looks to be seven year old!" McGonagall exclaimed.
"How old were you when you got knocked up, Bells? Ten?" This, of course, came from George.
Carlisle stepped forward. "As she is a hybrid, her vampire genes are causing her to grow at a faster rate than humans do. We expect she will reach full maturity at seven years of age."
I could tell they were all trying to process this new information. "Come here, sweetheart." I said to Renesmee. Cheerily, she skipped to my side, a grin on her face.
"I'd like you to meet everybody properly." I introduced each of the Weasley's, then McGonagall and Kingsley, and then finally, the Lupin's.
She skipped to Mrs Weasley's side, placing her hand on the older woman's arm. Mrs Weasley gasped in shock. "Goodness! What - what was that?"
I smiled. "Renesmee is gifted, like Edward. She can send you her thoughts with just a touch of her hand."
Mrs Weasley looked positively smitten with my daughter, as she beamed down at her. "Hello, dear."
"Can you do magic like my Mommy?"
"Yes, dear, I can. I'm a witch as well." Mrs Weasley got her wand out from her robes. "Would you like to see some?"
Renesmee bounced up and down, giggling happily. "Oh yes, please!" Jacob, however, wasn't so enthusiastic.
"Come on, Ness, that's enough." He was eyeing Mrs Weasley, looking at her as a threat.
"Jacob!" I snapped, offended that he could think so low of such a wonderful, caring woman. "What the bloody hell do you think you're playing at?"
"Who's this, Bella?" Mr Weasley asked, gesturing to Jacob as he moved to stand slightly in front of his wife.
"This is Jacob Black, my best friend from America." I paused. "He's a shape-shifter."
"Gee, thanks Bells, just shout it out, no big deal . . . " He muttered.
I carried on as if he hadn't spoken. "He's like a mix between a werewolf and an animagus." Remus looked up in interest. "He turns into a wolf, like a werewolf, but he can do it at will, like an animagus."
"Fascinating." Remus murmured.
"Yes, yes, this is all very fascinating, but we must continue with our original plans." McGonagall said sternly. "Come on now." She said, before striding out of the Great Hall. Everyone attending the meeting looked at each other for a second, before hurrying after her. Minerva McGonagall was not a woman to be messed with.
"So are you going to talk to her anytime soon?" I whispered to my brother as we approached the stone gargoyle. Harry, all of the Cullens, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, McGonagall, Kingsley, Remus, Jacob and I were making our way up to the Headmaster's office for the meeting. The rest of the Weasley men had gone to the burrow, while Fleur, Tonks and Mrs Weasley had taken Teddy back to Tonk's mother, Andromeda.
"I have no idea what you are talking about." He said, but his eyes strayed to the red headed girl.
"Oh come on, Harry! If you're going to pretend you don't like her, at least stop drooling!"
It was almost true. Although there was no drooling, he would stare after her every time they were in a room together. It was sickening to watch, but I knew Edward and I were the same way, so I chose to be happy that my brother had found someone to love, instead of repulsed.
"Dumbledore." I was pulled out of my thoughts by McGonagall speaking the password. The stone gargoyle moved aside, and one by one we made our way up the spiral stairs, and into the office.
I jumped as an ear-splitting noise filled the room, and I heard Harry cry out from beside me. I panicked, thinking there was danger nearby. But it was applause.
Once again, a room was filled with thunderous applause. Past headmasters and headmistresses were giving us a standing ovation; some waved their hats, some their wigs, some had tears streaming down their faces, some were dancing on the chairs in which they had been painted.
I could hear the murmurs of my family behind me as they filed into the room, each of them conveying their surprise."The portraits are alive!" Jacob whispered.
I leaned closer to Harry. "Do you think this is going to happen every time we enter a room?"
He grinned. "I bloody well hope not."
My eyes found the largest portrait, directly behind the headmaster's chair. Tears were sliding down his cheeks into his long silver beard, and the pride shining in his eyes filled my cold body with warmth.
At last the portraits fell silent, and they waited for either Harry or I to speak.
"The thing that was hidden in the snitch," Harry began, "I dropped it in the Forest. I'm not sure where, but I don't think we should go looking for it again. Do you agree?"
I knew immediately what he was talking about. The Resurrection Stone.
"My dear boy, I do. A wise and courageous decision, but no less than I would have expected of you. Does anyone else know where it fell?" His bright blue eyes flickered from Harry to me.
I squeezed Edward's hand, making a split second decision to lie. "No one. Only Harry and I." Dumbledore nodded his satisfaction.
"And the Elder Wand, I don't want it." Harry stated.
"What?" said Ron loudly. "Are you mental?"
Harry shook his head. "I know it's powerful, but I was happier with mine. So . . . " He rummaged through a pouch that was hung around his neck, pulling out the two halves of his wand. Laying the broken wand upon the desk, he touched the tip of the Elder Wand to it and said, "Reparo."
His wand resealed and red sparks flew out of the end. "I want to put the Elder Wand back where it came from. That way, if I die a natural death, it's power will be broken, won't it. The previous master will have never been defeated. That'll be the end of it."
Dumbledore nodded and smiled. "I always knew the two of you could do this. I am so proud." Harry and I smiled in thanks. "Now I understand that you all have some things to discuss." And with that, each occupant of every portrait disappeared.
"That was . . . insane." Rosalie whispered. "Bella, is anything impossible in your world?"
I shrugged. "Sure, some things."
"So that was Albus Dumbledore?" Jasper asked.
Grinning, I said. "The one and only."
"Alright, alright. Everybody, take a seat." Kingsley stood at the front of the room with McGonagall. Once everybody was seated (Remus had to conjure more chairs, as they weren't expecting this many people to join us), Kingsley spoke again.
"First off, I'd like to say thank you, to the both of you. I don't know how you did it, but you managed to save us all, so thank you." Harry and I lowered our heads in embarrassment.
"Now, if you can, I'd like for you to tell us how you did it exactly." Everyone turned to Harry and I expectantly.
"Uh, well . . . " Harry began to stutter. Neither of us were any good in the spotlight.
"Do you all know what horcruxes are?"
Remus, Kingsley and McGonagall gasped. "Horcruxes?" Remus asked. "He made a horcrux?"
"What's a horcrux?" Esme asked. I could see the majority of people in the room looked confused.
"A horcrux," Harry began, "is an object that somebody hides a piece of their soul into."
"So if their body was destroyed," I continued, "they would be able to survive, as a piece of their soul would still be living within the horcrux."
"So . . . so Voldemort split his soul?" Ginny asked. From the corner of my eye I could see Ron flinch.
"Oh for goodness sake, Ron!" He looked at me, shocked. "He's dead. You shouldn't still be scared of hearing his name." I then looked at Ginny. "Yes. He split his soul . . . eight times."
Their gasps and cries surrounded me. "But how – how does someone split their soul that many times?" Carlisle asked, and I cringed, knowing he of all people wouldn't like to know the answer.
"To split the soul, you must . . . kill somebody." I whispered.
"W – what?" Jacob asked. I didn't respond at first, but the silence in the room was weighing down heavily on me, it was deafening.
"Killing rips the soul apart - " I was cut off by every vampire in the room looking down, ashamed. "No, no, none of you need to feel bad about this."
"I've killed a lot of people, Bella." Edward whispered from beside me. "Many more than even Voldemort had."
"But it wasn't your fault! You're a vampire, Edward, it's in your nature to feed off human blood. Remember, you probably saved more lives than you took. They were all terrible people who you killed. Please don't feel guilty." I whispered, rubbing my hand against his arm.
Kingsley cleared his throat. "So Voldemort made eight horcruxes?"
"He didn't mean to," Harry said, "He only meant to make six."
"But then how . . . ?" Remus asked.
Harry and I looked at each other. Apart from Edward, we were the only two who knew the real truth. "The first time he ever tried to kill us, and he failed, the spell backfired." I whispered, my voice low, yet still managing to echo around the quiet room.
"The spell backfired on him, and his soul shattered into pieces." Harry continued.
"The pieces of his soul latched onto the only living things in that house." I finished.
"You mean . . . ?" Alice asked, her voice filled with sorrow.
"Harry and I have been living with bits of his soul inside of us for the past seventeen years."
Edward wrapped his arm around me, pulling me close to his side, and kissing the top of my head. Renesmee danced over to me from where she sat with Jacob, and touched my cheek.
"Mommy, don't be sad! I love you." A smile slipped onto my face as I looked into the chocolate brown eyes of my daughter, they shone brightly on her beautiful face as she grinned up at me.
I bent down to kiss her cheek. "I love you too, darling." She giggled and jumped into Edward's lap, snuggling against his chest.
"What were the horcruxes?" Ginny asked. I avoided her gaze, not wanting her of all people to know the answer.
Luckily, Harry was the one who answered. "There was Slytherin's locket, Hufflepuff's cup, Ravenclaw's diadem, the snake, Marvolo Gaunt's ring, Bella and I and . . . " He trailed off.
She gasped. "The diary." She looked from Harry, to me, and then back to Harry again. "The diary was one, wasn't it?"
"Yes, Gin, the diary was a horcrux."
An uncomfortable silence descended on the room. Thankfully, McGonagall continued the conversation. "So am I right in assuming that you four have been trying to destroy these horcruxes?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes, that's what we were doing this past year."
McGonagall nodded. "Well, that brings me on to our next point. The four of you have missed quite a lot of schooling," she began, "and I would like to offer you the chance to finish your education and achieve your N.E.W.T.s."
"What the hell are newts?" Jacob asked.
"N.E.W.T.s are 'Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests.' They are the qualifications you leave Hogwarts with." I explained.
"You do not have to decide this right away, but please think about it. Bella," her gaze moved to me, "you have missed two years of your education, but with the outstanding O.W.L results you achieved , and with your new vampire capabilities, I have full confidence that you would be able to leave here with excellent results."
I just nodded, absorbing this new information. Usually I would have jumped at the chance at coming back to Hogwarts, but now with Edward and Renesmee, I didn't know what to decide.
"Do whatever you want to do, Bella." A voice breathed in my ear, making me glance at my husband. His face was only a few inches from my own, and he gave me a supportive smile.
"I also have something to discuss with you." Kingsley began, "If you so wish, the four of you could work for me at the ministry, as Aurors."
"Aurors?" Harry asked, "but don't we need to finish our education for that?"
Kingsley chuckled. "I think if anyone is qualified for the job it would be you and your sister, Harry. Even if you hadn't just defeated the darkest wizard to ever live, I'd still offer you the job. Your O.W.L results, along with everything else you've done over the years, would be more than enough to see that you would be capable."
"What's an auror?" Emmett asked, looking straight at me.
"An Auror is a dark wizard catcher. A bit like the police."
"A dark wizard catcher?" Edward questioned, and I could sense the panic in his voice. I lifted my shield to him, letting him take comfort in my mind, and my decision.
"Thank you for the offer, Kingsley, but I think I am going to decline. I think I'd like to finish my education." Hermione said.
"We thought as much, Miss Granger." McGonagall said, giving a rare smile.
"I don't want to be an auror either." I said. Harry looked at me, surprised.
"Are you sure, Bella? You would be an extraordinary help to us, what with your advanced magic skills, and your vampire abilities." Kingsley said, trying to persuade me.
I shook my head, certain of my choice. "I think I'd rather take a break from hunting down dark wizards. It would be nice to do something normal for once."
"Normal? Bells . . ." Harry started, grinning at me. I scowled at him, and smacked his head lightly, with the force of a human.
"Very well then. What about you two?" Kingsley asked, looking to Harry and Ron. I was almost sure Harry would accept, it had been his goal for a long time.
"I'd like to do it." Harry said, nodding. Ron decided to join the aurors as well, and Kingsley told them to look out for his owl.
"Now, onto our next issue." McGonagall said, and I could hear the hesitation in her voice. "We want to hold a memorial service, here at Hogwarts, for everybody who lost their lives during this war, and the first wizard war.
"We plan on having this service in three days, on Sunday. I believe it will be good for everybody to get together and truly get a chance to grieve, and most importantly, remember those who fought for us, and who helped bring us closer to victory. We'd like to have everybody's names carved onto a memorial, so they will never be forgotten."
A heavy silence drifted over the room, broken only by the sound of beating hearts and breathing. Eventually, Remus spoke. "I think it's a wonderful idea." He said softly.
"I agree," Harry said, "as long as everyone is included on the memorial."
"What do you mean, Potter?"
"Professor Snape." Was all he said.
Anger flashed in McGonagall's eyes, her face turned stony and her voice was sharp. "That man -"
"That man is the reason Harry and I are still alive." I began, my voice full of acid. McGonagall recoiled in shock. "Without him, we would have died a long time ago. Everything he did has helped us win this war. He risked his life every day by being a spy to our side, and not many people would have had the courage to do that. He deserves to be remembered just as much as anybody else."
No one said anything for a while as my words began to sink in. To be perfectly honest, I was surprised at myself, but when Mcgonagall began to insult him, something inside of me snapped.
"She's right. Severus Snape has saved our lives many times over the years. We owe it to him." Harry said.
"You told Voldemort that Snape was in love with - with your mother." Ginny stated.
I nodded. "Just before Snape died, he gave me some memories." Harry started.
"We watched them, just before going into the forest." I continued.
"Snape was in love with our mother for most of his life."
"It's true," Remus said, "When we were at school, he would follow after her. Everyone could see it. It wasn't until he called her - well, a mudblood," he said the word with disgust, "that they stopped spending time together."
McGonagall sighed. "Very well then. He shall be included."
We spent the rest of the time discussing the reconstruction of Hogwarts, which would begin in the next few weeks, and my time in America. The gifted Cullens each explained their ability, and I gave them a very brief explanation of each event that had happened since I had met the Cullens. Jacob's explanation took longer, as they had never encountered someone like him before. He also explained to them about imprinting, and how he had done so on Renesmee.
"What about the muggles?" I asked, directing my question to Kingsley.
"We can send people out to erase their memories. I believe it will be best if they don't remember any of you." He said, glancing at each vampire.
"Wait, wait." Jacob said, his brow furrowed. "I've just thought of something. I've known Charlie my entire life . . . You had some wizards mess with my memories, didn't you?" He looked at me, eyes narrowed.
"I'm sorry, Jake, but we had to. I didn't know at the time that you'd be such a big part of my life."
He sighed. "It's fine, it's fine. If that hadn't happened then maybe . . ." He trailed off, gazing at my daughter.
"So does that mean we can't see Grandpa Charlie anymore?" Renesmee asked, her voice small and sad.
"Oh honey," I said, stroking her bronze ringlets, "I'm sorry, once the memory charm is done he won't know who we are anymore."
She nodded in understanding, but her eyes were full of sadness.
"Bella!" Alice exclaimed. "Renee isn't your mother."
Confused, I said, "I know that, Alice . . ."
She rolled her eyes. "No, I mean you named Renesmee after your 'mother'. Renesmee."
"Oh, right, I see what you're getting at." I nodded. "I love her name, and I knew that when I chose it. It doesn't matter to me."
"I think it's a beautiful name!" Hermione beamed.
"OK, there's one last thing I wanted to discuss with the both of you." Kingsley paused. "The Dursley's -"
"No." I said. "I don't want anything to do with those people."
"But they are coming out of hiding, and will be sent back to Privet Drive. Don't you want to see them, at least one more time?"
I opened my mouth to speak, but Harry beat me to it. "I think we should."
"W – what? Can you not remember how they treated us?"
The Dursley's had acted vile towards Harry and I from day one. When we were left on the doorstep as infants, we had been shoved straight in the cupboard. For eleven years we shared that tiny space. We had to do all of the household chores, cook the meals, things that young children shouldn't be doing. Their son, Dudley, and his friends used Harry has a human punch bag every chance they got. Our Aunt and Uncle used every opportunity they could to verbally abuse us, and make us feel worthless. For eleven years Harry and I had no one but each other. It was one of the reasons we were so close.
"What do you mean, Bella? How did they treat you?" Remus brought me out of my musings.
I looked at him, then at everyone else in the room, and realized that I should have just kept my mouth shut, instead of bringing unnecessary attention to Harry and I.
"Bella mentioned to us earlier that they were made to sleep in a cupboard." Carlisle said, his tone calm, yet I could hear the underlying anger. I glared at my father-in-law, and he shifted uncomfortably under my gaze.
"Harry? Bella? Is this true?" McGonagall asked, her tone appalled.
"Well, yes, but -" Harry tried to say.
"But nothing!" Remus snapped, his eyes glinting dangerously.
"Harry, Bella," Hermione said, her eyes filling with tears. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"It stopped as soon as they realized what 'freaks' we were," I muttered, "after that we were given Dudley's second bedroom -" I didn't continue as there was a loud growl from beside me. My eyes flashed to my husband's face. His eyes had turned pitch black, and he looked terrifying. Renesmee was looking at her father in shock, not used to seeing him look so much like a – like a vampire.
"Edward, honey, calm down." I said, placing my hand on his cheek.
"Bella, you have to tell me. Did they do anything else?" He looked at me pleadingly, his eyes softening slightly at my touch.
"Well, for as long as I can remember, Harry and I were made to cook and clean the house. We weren't allowed any of our own things, either. Everything we owned was passed down to us."
Harry took over. "Sometimes they would lock us in the cupboard, if we disobeyed them."
Esme gasped and her hand went to cover her mouth. "Did they ever . . . hurt you?"
"No, not really. Occasionally they'd shove us around, like if we got in their way or something, but they didn't . . . abuse us. The worst they ever did was not give us food for a few days." Harry whispered.
"They starved you?!" Edward snarled.
"How could you do that to children?" Rosalie muttered to herself.
Carlisle, who now looked to be in 'doctor mode' spoke next. "Abuse doesn't always have to be physical, Harry. It can be verbal and mental also."
"Do you really want to see these people again?" I said softly to Harry.
He shook his head. "No, but that's the thing. I think Dudley was starting to change. He almost seemed . . . sad, when we were saying goodbye."
"Yeah, he was probably sad that he wouldn't get to use you as a human punching bag anymore . . ."
"What?" Ron asked, his voice laced with anger. "He used to hit you?"
"Bella, did he ever . . . ?" Remus asked.
"Of course he didn't!" Harry snapped at him. "Do you really think I would let him touch her?"
I reached out and grabbed my brother's hand, squeezing it tightly. I could remember when we were really small, and Dudley would start to push me around, Harry would always stop him, every time.
"Ness, go sit with Jacob." Edward whispered to our daughter. I looked at him in curiosity, but he didn't answer my silent question. After Renesmee had skipped away, he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me onto his lap, burying his face in my hair and breathing deeply.
"I'm sorry, Bella." He whispered, his lips tickling my neck.
"Harry, Bella," McGonagall began, her tone was soft, unlike the stern voice she usually used. "I'm sorry that you had to live with those horrible people for so long."
Remus ran a hand through his hair, "If I'd had known," He whispered. His eyes flickered to meet mine. "I wouldn't have let you live with them, Bells, Harry, I wouldn't have allowed it."
"We know, Remus, we know." I told him.
"I think we should see them again, just one more time, to show them that they can't treat us like that anymore." It was then that I realized my brother was right. For years they had stomped all over us, controlled us, but now they wouldn't, couldn't, do that. They didn't have power over us anymore, the threat was gone, we didn't need to stay there for our own protection.
"Harry, are you sure that's - ?" Hermione began, but I cut her off.
"No, no he's right." I nodded to him, and then to Kingsley. "We'll go see them, one last time."
"Very well, if you're sure. They should be returning to their home in the next week or so. I'll owl you with the details."
Harry and I nodded our thanks.
"You'll come with us, won't you?" I asked my husband in my mind.
He chuckled and kissed my neck. "Of course I will, Bella. Of course I will."
"You're going to love The Burrow, I know you will!"
Mr Weasley had sent us a patronus telling us that it was safe. The Cullens had been skeptical at first, not wanting to intrude on the Weasley's, but Ron and Ginny had insisted that they were more than welcome. Remus would also be joining us, as Tonks and Teddy were already there.
McGonagall and Kingsley had left the office shortly after the meeting, but they had allowed us to stay so we could travel to The Burrow through the floo network, which had just recently been restored.
"What exactly is the floo network?" Alice asked as I handed her the bowl of floo powder. After she had hesitantly took a small handful, I placed the bowl next to the fireplace again.
"It's another way to travel. Watch, I'll go first." I walked towards the fire place, before standing under the mantle. All of the vampires and Jacob were watching me curiously. I looked at my daughter. "Come here, darling, it will be safer if we travel together." She danced over to me and took my hand.
"Safer? Bells . . . " Jacob started.
"Jacob, will you stop! I would never put my daughter in any danger. The reason I want her to travel with me is because she's only young and she has never done this before. Now," I said, turning to my vampire family, "please, all of you stay calm. Don't freak out, it is perfectly safe."
"Bella, why would I freak out?" Edward asked, but I ignored him, and instead turned to Remus, Harry, Ron and Hermione.
"Will you four make sure this lot get there safely?" I smirked. "We don't want a repeat of - "
"Merlin, Bells, that was one time!" Harry said with a scowl, making Ron and I burst into laughter.
Still chuckling slightly, I leaned down next to Renesmee and whispered to her, "Ness, you need to hold on to me tightly, OK?" She nodded and when I stood again, her small arms wrapped around my middle. Placing one arm around her so she was pulled close to my side, I raised my other arm, ready to throw the floo powder into the fireplace.
"The Burrow," I said, speaking slowly and clearly. The powder dropped from my hand, and we were engulfed by the green flames. Keeping a tight hold on Renesmee, we began to hurtle downwards, zooming past fireplace after fireplace, before finally we were being pulled towards one.
"Oh, Bella dear, and little Renesmee!" Mrs Weasley said as we tumbled out of the fireplace. She came towards us, arms outstretched, and squeezed us both in a hug. "Everyone else is upstairs getting cleaned up, they should be down shortly. Are you hungry?" She asked, looking at me. I stared at her incredulously, before she shook her head. "Of course not, silly me! Does Renesmee eat any human food?"
I chuckled. "Sometimes, but her diet is mainly blood."
"Would you like some . . . " I heard Mrs Weasley ask, but her voice faded into the background as I took in my surroundings. I hadn't been here since the summer after my fifth year, when I had come to say goodbye. Besides Hogwarts, this place had been my home, and it was so great to be back, finally, after two years.
A noise came from the fireplace, and I turned to see my husband, covered in soot, on the ground. I couldn't contain the laugh that was making it's way out of my mouth as he stared around him, dazed. When my laughter filled the air, his golden eyes snapped to mine, and he jumped to his feet, rushing over to engulf me in his arms.
"Well, hello to you too." I chuckled. Behind us I could hear Renesmee's soft giggle.
"Next time you want to travel by fireplace, will you warn me that the flames won't turn you into ash?"
I chuckled, "I did tell you not to freak out . . . "
He growled playfully, and leaned down so his face was close to mine. "So short . . ." He muttered, before our lips met in a loving kiss.