Epilogue - Ten Years Later
A lot has happened in the past ten years.
After I left Alec, he met with Santiago. He convinced Afton to let him go along on the mission, so he could counter whatever gift the newborn had without risking the other guard members. Afton agreed.
Alec's bond to his twin and need to avenge her death was stronger than the false bonds Chelsea inflicted on him, as was Santiago's attachment to Aro, since he had loved him like a father. More importantly, Alec's need to protect his newly human sister gave him the courage and determination to act. The newborn was a girl with the ability to blend in with her surroundings like a chameleon, which is why the nomad could never catch her. Demetri found himself staring at a tree and feeling a pull to it he couldn't explain. Alec used his gift on the tree and the girl appeared. Luckily, she was Demetri's mate, which freed him from Chelsea's influence as well.
Instead of completing the mission, they returned to Volterra, where Alec they took out Afton, Chelsea, and Renata. As the new ruler of the Volturi, Alec then contacted Carlisle and found out about the synthetic blood. He lent the Volturi's massive resources to the effort to mass produce it for vampires around the world, then issued a decree that any vampire found to be consuming human blood instead of the synthetic stuff would be executed.
He recruited several nomads to act as judge and jury for the trials, keeping himself removed from that aspect and making the power widespread over a larger group, so he and they wouldn't become so easily corrupted. Charles and Makenna were amongst those in the jury, due to his ability to discern truth from lies. Whenever they wanted a break, Maggie would come take their place.
The vampire warlords in Central America were Alec's first target. They ignored the decree, enjoying their battle for territory too much to stop it. Alec found his mate in one of the armies and offered her asylum. She turned out to be a power enhancer, which enabled him to use his gift against a hundred vampires at the same time. After that, he and his guard completely wiped out the rest of the armies.
Next, Alec took out the Romanians. They too refused to abide by the decree, still wanting to go back to the days when the humans feared them and worshiped them like gods. They and their followers quickly bit the dust.
By the time Alec was finished removing all the 'undesirables' there were only about a hundred vampires left in the world. No new vampires were being created to fight unnecessary wars or due to feeding accidents. The only new vampires coming into existence were created specifically to join a coven or by the individual's mate.
The remaining vampires loved the products the Cullens created to help them blend in with the human world. The synthetic blood made their eye color a more normal one for humans to encounter, while the make-up allowed them to go out in the sun without sparkling. Other make-up enabled them to appear to be aging, allowing them to settle in one place for a much longer period of time.
Bella was changed after her honeymoon. After a great deal of discussion, she and Edward had decided to simply freeze her ovaries and wait until the Cullens successfully invented the robotic uterus to nurture the hybrid child they hoped to have together some day. Edward wasn't willing to take the chance of her permanently dying, especially when I accidentally slipped and showed him how close he'd come to losing her in Meyer's world. I hadn't realized he was near enough to overhear when it crossed my mind one day. Bella didn't really want to become a mother at 19 anyway and was content to wait a decade or two, confident the family would persevere and find success.
The whole family had pulled together to create Bella's ideal fairytale cottage in the woods, far enough from mine that we wouldn't be able to hear one another. Esme was happy to have the space in the main house available for future grandchildren to be able to spend the night with her and had turned Edward's old room into a beautiful nursery in anticipation.
The wolves and hybrids had proven they were genetically compatible. Their children all had 24 chromosome pairs like their parents. Unlike the hybrids themselves, their children grew at a normal human rate, just like the wolves had. We were waiting for them to reach puberty to see if the shifting had been passed down as well, or if they might have some other kind of manifestation. Even Leah had stopped phasing five years ago to have her first child. She now had two little boys and had started phasing again last year to maintain enough energy to keep up with the little rascals and because her husband didn't age at all.
Thanks to the Cullens, the wolves had continued on to college and gotten degrees which helped further the Cullens' research. Working together, they had all finally realized the dream of the robotic uterus. The first child, the offspring of Bella and Edward, since they already had her eggs available, was due to be born any day now.
I loved seeing how well the vampires and wolves worked together. Another one of the benefits of the synthetic blood was the effect it had on vampires' scents, at least as far as the shifters were concerned. Vampires who drank Red Bear didn't smell bad to the wolves, and didn't trigger their supernatural defense mechanisms. Whatever supernatural force caused shifters to form in the first place and made them the enemy of vampires deemed synthetic drinkers to be even less of a threat than animal drinkers. In fact, it didn't seem to consider synthetic drinkers a threat at all, unless they went more than five days without feeding. Then the wolves' hackles would rise more and more each day as the vampire became thirstier. After ten days, the wolves were driven to attack, the same as they would if encountering a red-eyed vampire. Luckily, Carlisle had only tested that once and under controlled circumstance that allowed him to prevent anyone from getting hurt in the process.
Rose and Esme always eagerly babysat the hybrids' children and had moved into homeschooling them as well. The children of the wolves and hybrids were a little bit stronger, faster, smarter, and more durable than human children their age, so everyone felt it was best to keep them separated from the regular human population until they were old enough to know how to hide their differences.
Carlisle had preserved my ovaries before my change too, so if things worked out well with Bella's and Edward's baby, I had promised the ladies in my family to share my eggs with them if they wanted. I figured Marcus and I had plenty of time to bring a child into the mix, and only a decade into our mating, we were still in the honeymoon phase. We still preferred to spend days making love, oblivious to anyone and anything in the outside world.
Esme had accepted with alacrity after I promised not to try to horn in on the mothering process just because the child would share my DNA. I told her that since it wasn't originally my body anyway, we'd all be borrowing somebody else's eggs, including me. After I explained it that way, Rose, Alice, and Charlotte accepted as well. I couldn't wait for the happiness that would soon abound with all the people I loved.