Nyx: Yet another ontime update. I'm on a roll! Shame it has to end.

Puff: *munching on tortilla chips* Why can't the kids wear jeggings? Jeggings are fabulous!

Nyx: What the fuck are jeggings? Puff, I'm trying to give the disclaimer-

Puff: *spewing bits of tortilla chips* Oh please, they know you don't own the Twilight bullshit. Now, jeggings are leggings that look like jeans-

Nyx: Moving on!

We will run and scream
You will dance with me
We'll fulfill our dreams and we'll be free

We will be who we are
And they'll heal our scars
Sadness will be far away

-Learn Me Right, Mumford and Sons ft. Birdy

-The Letter That Never Came, Thomas Newman
[from the A Series of Unfortunate Events soundtrack]

Chapter 40. Haec Temporis

He approached her on quiet feet, though he knew she could sense him just fine. One hand tucked into the pocket of his dress slacks. "Bella?" he asked, resisting the temptation to look her over in her blood red dress, as delicious a temptation as it was. Her emotions were calm, easily palatable, instead of the overwhelming cocktail that came from the anticipation of a wedding.

But Bella had had to bury her mother a mere handful of weeks ago, and he had stayed with her as a silent pillar of support. She had managed to keep her emotions level throughout the small funeral, a frown marring that beautiful face of hers, breaking down in tears later, in the comfort of their home.

He and Bella had decided to move in together some time ago, making a home out of the Swan's old vacation house that hadn't been used in some decades.

'Summer home' wouldn't aptly describe the large antebellum style house, on a generous chunk of land in bumfuck Texas, the beach just a short ten-minute walk from the front porch steps. The house had been somewhat of a ranch, due to the empty stables that looked like they had been that way since the late eighteen-hundreds. The house had been due for some cleaning and renovations having remained untouched since Abuelo Swan died, and now the old vacation home had been returned to its former old-fashioned glory. Shining marble floors, modest chandelier hanging in the foyer, and all.

She turned to look at him, her lovely face framed by her dark hair and he was tempted to keep her prisoner, here in their bedroom. She was giving him a serious once-over as well, her dark eyes flaring with heat and he felt that heat go straight to his groin. "You ready?" she asked and he almost groaned, instead giving her a wicked smirk.

"Very," was all he said. Her warm palms smoothed across his chest, very much admiring the way he looked in a tuxedo.

"I can't believe Max and Cato are getting married," she said, straightening his tie, "you'd never would've thought with the way they met and all."

Jasper chuckled, "They are certainly the oddest, most symbiotic couple I've ever met."

"I thought Azazel and Nim were going to be the first out of all of us to get married, to be honest," Bella told him.

"Took 'em awhile to finally start a relationship, its probably gonna take 'em a while to tie the knot," Jasper smirked, his hands resting on her waist. He looked her over, letting his eyes scan her up and down, drinking her in and Bella repressed a shiver, feeling the heat of his gaze, knowing how much he loved her in the color red. Hell, he loved her in anything.

"I really like this dress," he murmured, slipping his finger under the fabric that joined over her shoulder. The dress wasn't made out of silk nor satin, instead in incredibly soft cotton that draped over her curves in a graceful waterfall. Her dark hair was in silky ringlets, part of her hair pinned up and held it place by a few pearl-pins.

Her make-up minimal, Jasper swore she was the most beautiful creature he'd ever laid eyes on and she was all his.

Jasper was aware that he was staring and staring at her hard, this time she didn't repress her shiver as his cool touch left her shoulder, trailing slowly down her arm and her nipples pebbled through the soft cotton. "Mmm," he purred, delighting in her reaction to him and she took the smallest of steps out of his space.

"Devious," was the only word she managed to get out, scrambling for her gathered wits, and in return he gave her a lazy sexy smile that made her toes curl. "We're going to be late if you keep tempting me," she said, straightening her shoulders.

"Is it working?" he asked, giving her another full-body scan and she smacked his chest.

"Save all of that goodness for later," she scolded and he pouted, "If you're a good boy you'll be sufficiently rewarded," she said sounding very much like the enchantress she was and Jasper let out a groan.

"Fuck," he said, swooping in and planting a hot kiss on her mouth, pulling away and taking her by the hand leading her out of their bedroom, where it was definitely dangerous. She laughed, the sound going straight to his groin as it always did when she laughed like that; long, loud and genuine. They arranged themselves in the car, the wedding gift already on hand and they were gone.

Jasper only had to drive ten minutes before she opened the portal and they passed through into Saratoga Springs, New York. Summer was clinging hard, fighting hard with fall for dominance. There was still some green to the leaves, yet some of autumn's colors were starting to bleed through. It was gorgeous and they drove towards Cato's villa that was out of the way of everyone and everything else, happening upon the gate to his property.

There were already a few cars parked out front and they got out of the car. The door opened and Carrie stood at the threshold, she too was wearing red but not a dress like Bella's, instead it was short, flowy and simple, beaming at the couple. "C'mon c'mon!" she beckoned, linking her elbow through Bella's and dragging her away. "The menfolk are that way," Carrie gestured vaguely, continuing to take Bella in the opposite direction and Jasper shook his head while Bella shot him a look over her shoulder, rolling her eyes.

Jasper went to go join the menfolk, all of them dressed in their black tuxedos, ties and hair immaculate. Azazel looked incredibly strange with his tattoos covered, his hair combed back and clean-shaven and Jasper couldn't help but stare at him like he was an alien. He heard a shriek of laughter elsewhere in the house and vaguely wondered what the women were up to.

Bella had entered the room where the bride and her maids were all gathered and Max was making the last minute adjustments to her dress. She looked up at Bella and gaped, "Thanks a lot," she blurted, "how am I supposed to compete with that?" she gestured to the enchantress currently draped in red and Bella smiled sheepishly.

"Sorry," she said apologetically but Max waved her off.

"Don't apologize, this is the day we all look pretty," she said then smoothed her hands over her white dress, looking nervous, excited and sick all the same time.

"You okay?" Bella asked, taking her hand.

"She's trying not to throw up," Nimueh said, looking quite the stunner herself with her pin-straight white hair curled and pinned up and her pale skin offset by the blood red of her dress...and completely bored with it all, whittling an apple from what probably used to be a block of wood.

"I'm getting married," Max muttered, "holy fuck I'm getting married."

"You look amazing," Carrie gushed, "Cato won't be able to take his eyes off you." Nona was wearing red as well, her short dark hair unadorned and she nodded in agreement.

Max's dress was classy, fitting her snugly, she was covered in lace up to her collarbones, the dress sleeveless, it went in a deep 'V' down her back, exposing the beautiful, elaborate wing tattoos across the expanse of her back, stopping inches from the swell of her ass while her sandy-blonde hair had been pinned up in an elaborate network of braids, curls and pins. The door opened and an olive-skinned woman, dressed tastefully for the occasion, gasped upon seeing her daughter. "Oh Max," she whispered, her eyes beginning to water.

"Hey mom," Max whispered then smiled. Dr. Valerie Martinez fanned herself trying not to cry so she wouldn't mess up her makeup.

Daniil poked his head in. "Ready?" he asked. And just like that, it was showtime.

Bella stood next to Max while she took her vows, staring happily into her Lycan's eyes and she couldn't help but exchange a look with Jasper who was standing with the groom, trying not to smile when he gave her a slow crimson wink. After the groom laid a hot one on his bride, sealing their union, he swept her up in her arms and carried her down the aisle while she gaped at him.

The New York crew laughed, applauding as they paired off, following the happy couple down the aisle.

Bella danced with Jasper at the reception, night falling over the wedding party and the fairy lights becoming that much more brilliant, the whole setting something out of a fairy tale. "This has got to be the most fantastic wedding I've ever had the honor of attending," Jasper confided to her.

"Have you been to many weddings?" she asked him and Jasper nodded.

"Mostly Emmett and Rosalie's. They like to renew their vows every few decades, like they suddenly mean less over time," he said, swaying with her slowly as the sounds of a gentle but happy cello filled the air.

"Did you ever think you might be married someday?" Bella asked.

"In this life? No," he said, "my marriage to Alice was a sham, and she orchestrated the whole ceremony, right down to the flowers. As a human Alice would have been the ideal girl to settle with, respectable and polite. The kind of girl you bring home to meet your mama." he twirled her as he spoke, bringing her back into his embrace with ease. Her pretty brown eyes scanned his face, her expression open, not at all miffed by the talk of his ex.

"And now?" she asked quietly.

"Now, I'm the happiest I've ever been," he said, red eyes warm and honest as they stared into hers. They were both scarred by awful histories, his chaotic and hers hellish...literally.

Bella still experienced the awful effects of her stunted transition into demonhood on every December third, and he was there every time, to hold her and keep her anchored. The nightmares would resurface once in a blue moon and he was there to wipe away her tears.

He was always there, he had been since their reunion a mere year and a half before, that seemed like forever ago, and she loved him completely for it.

"I love you," she confessed, those three words loaded with so much more than the three syllables that came out of her mouth.

And he understood, "I love you too." he rested his forehead against hers, joining the recently wedded couple in their moment of happy bliss.

"We're such saps," Bella laughed lowly.

"You enjoy it," he teased. A glance at the time told them it was time to leave, as they had volunteered to perform patrol in order for the unit to take part in congratulating the happy couple. Bella hugged Max goodbye, the girl whispering, "Thank you." in Bella's ear and giving her a watery smile.

Leaving their wedding gift amongst the others they took their leave, Bella easily changing their clothing with a snap of her fingers though her springy hair from the wedding had stayed, looking odd with the clingy black sweater and sturdy jeans she wore. Instead of his tux, he too wore jeans and a black t-shirt and the transition into their Reaping gear was done with ease.

They drove into the city and Bella immediately picked up on a disturbance on the lower west side of the city. A storm of unruly vampires having ravished a gathering of teens, leaving bodies strewn everywhere, some half-alive, others very much alive while the rest were very very dead. Bella and Jasper exchanged a look, pulling out their weapons and went about their business with a sigh.

Nyx: And it's done! Thank you all so much for bearing with me and my god-awful antics. You're all sexy beasts, really. And if you review this chapter (and ask nicely) I'll send you an outtake of Nim/Z since I know some of you are clamoring for 'detail' and a bit of their togetherness. Not quite the HEA we all imagined, nor the conventional one. I know most of you weren't expecting an HEA, but were keeping your fingers crossed.

Puff: *reaches for the tissues with a sigh*

Nyx: What're those for?

Puff: *flatly* Just in case.

Nyx: But wait! There's more! There's a Fictionpress version of this, not quite the same of course. Same universe, but spun in far more detail. There's a great deal more violence, lots of swearing and of course, what would a fic be without a bit 'o sex? ;P I encourage you all to check it out! It's called 'Howl'.

Puff: *whines* God...just when I think I can catch a break. I have to put up with you and a new fic.