Many thanks to Lynzylee and GeekChic12. As always, you two are just the greatest.

Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I own the contents of this story.


White Shadows

Chapter 21

"Edward, where do you think my sister and Jasper are?"

He hesitated before replying. "I'm sure they're well."

"They headed east, right?" I asked.

"Yes."

"What are you holding back?" I asked him as I adjusted myself in the saddle to see his face.

He shrugged. "Nothing much. Only that I have the suspicion that Jasper was heading to Stronghaven."

"What? To court? To the king?" I asked in astonishment. "But…why are we not?"

Edward frowned at me. "Bella. We've been over this. I need to get you somewhere safe first before we deal with our families and the king."

"But the king is your friend, is he not?"

Again, Edward hesitated. "He is," he said slowly. "But he… Yes. He's my friend."

"I don't understand. Wouldn't it have benefited us to seek his protection? You are the First Knight of his guard, after all."

He was silent after that. Something wasn't right.

"You have a plan," I realized.

"I did. Perhaps still do," he admitted.

"Does this plan involve me, or had you thought to try to be all noble and leave me?"

I got no reply to that, but Edward's face said it all.

"Damn you! Stop this horse," I ordered him.

He halted Moonspawn, and I awkwardly jumped down.

"You're not still planning that, are you? I will stab you this time!" I hissed.

He breathed out a mighty sigh and then swung down from the saddle. He came and stood in front of me, placing his hands on my shoulders. His expression was intent. I couldn't recall him ever looking more serious.

"If there ever comes a time that the only way to keep you alive is for me to leave you, then I will. If the choice is your life or us being together, then I'll always choose your life. I'll always choose you. I vowed my life for yours, and that vow means even more now. I need you to understand this, Bella. I need you to comprehend the lengths I will go to keep you living. I need you to understand me in this. Tell me you do."

We heard Emmett and Rosalie softly conversing nearby, but we both ignored them. I held my husband's gaze and realized he was unmovable in this.

"I do understand your thinking, as flawed as I find it to be. I've come to really know you and know how greatly you value your word. But remember this: we've been apart. Remember that moment when you gripped me in your embrace at the cottage? Remember that feeling you had when you and I looked at each other and realized we were both living? Remember the absolute joy of seeing my face and holding me, knowing I was safe? Remember how much you love me?"

He squeezed his eyes shut. "I remember every moment, every detail, everything."

"Then, understand this, Edward of Sunhaven. I'm your wife. I am Isabella of Sunhaven. I will follow you to the void and back. I love you. If I have to kill a hundred more men to prove it to you, I will. You belong to me. You're mine, and I refuse to ever let go."

It was ten heartbeats before Edward replied. "If I didn't love you so much, I might fear you a little."

"Don't let that stop you. You do not want to cross me when it comes to our marriage."

"And I didn't say I was leaving you. I said that was my plan," he pointed out.

"You talk a fine circle around me and are very good at leading me a merry chase to the truth."

"Was that a question?" he asked with a teasing grin.

I was not to be placated. "You're not going to give me a straight answer, are you?"

He slid his hands from my shoulders and slightly shrugged.

"I see. I think I liked it better when you were keeping your words. Though, God's be, it's debatable which is more infuriating."

"Well, I am Edward of Sunhaven, heir to the Amber Isle, the Slayer, First Knight to King Alfred, and the reigning tournament champion. Insufferable kind of comes with all that." Again, with that teasing grin.

"You're insufferable, all right," I muttered.

He smirked, then moved his facial features into his "smolder."

I won't give in. I won't give in. I won't give in.

"Is-a-bel-la," he whispered. "You know I love you." Then his face softened; his eyes became warm and full of affection for me. Damn him.

"Yes. I know." I sighed and relaxed my rigid posture. He'd won this time. I grabbed his tunic and drew him to me. "Since we're stopped, let us make camp and eat. I'm famished."

"Me too," he said as his eyes traveled down and settled upon my breasts.

"I don't think we're discussing the same thing." I laughed and quickly pressed a kiss to his lips.

"No?" He flashed me a too charming smile. "Mine's better. I find I have acquired a taste for a certain…delicacy," he quipped with a lift of his eyebrow.

I dropped my chin and blushed. I thought again of possibly kissing him there and felt more heat in my cheeks.

Edward laughed and kissed the top of my head. "Later, we'll find a quiet spot. For now, let us rejoin our friends and share an evening repast."

As we partook of our evening meal, we caught up with Emmett and Rosalie and all they had experienced. Their trip had been much less exciting than ours, to say the least.

I frowned to find Rosalie's eyes upon me again. She'd been sending me strange looks all day. Sometimes she looked at me as if she was trying to figure something out. Not knowing the meaning of this and the reason for her odd behavior, I decided to ignore it until such a time that she chose to speak.

Edward, not forgetting his earlier promise, found us a quiet spot away from our friends. I'd come to greatly anticipate love-making and every new discovery. I never would have guessed the many different ways of caressing and kissing. And certainly not all the ways we could position ourselves to connect our bodies. In that, Edward was being most instructive, and I was an eager learner.

"Where is your mind, lass?" he whispered as his mouth trailed down my throat. "I can almost hear you thinking."

He raised his head and studied me with curious eyes.

"I'm sorry. I've been feeling off, sort of strange. And Rosalie is being very strange as well. Everything just seems so peculiar."

"I wondered about Rosalie as well. She's been acting bizarre, well, bizarre for her," he said with a grin.

I chuckled. "Indeed."

Edward settled beside me, his hand on my stomach, casually caressing me.

"How much longer?" I asked.

"No more than two days now."

I rolled over and propped my head in my hand. "That soon?" I asked eagerly.

"Yes. We're near the southwest coast," he replied.

My eyes surely were shining with excitement. "The Varvaara Sea? I've always longed to see it! They say it's treacherous between Oaklea and Ula'ree."

"I've seen it. It constantly churns. Only seasoned sailors brave its rough waters. It's the one thing that's kept the Ulareans from ever attacking Oaklea, but it won't stop them forever."

"Sometimes I forget that the world holds more than our kingdom. Oaklea seems so enormous."

"I've heard that the continent to the south, Kuoppa, is larger than all the other continents combined," Edward said. "It's hot there, they say, and instead of grass, they have sand underfoot. The people that dwell there wear little clothing, I'm told." Wicked, dancing eyes met mine. "Perhaps we should travel there."

I laughed. "I'm wearing little clothing now."

"Much to my delight," he murmured as he leaned in for a kiss.

"Edward, I'm cold. Can we not return to the fire?"

"I'll warm you," he offered.

"I think you already warmed me quite well. Twice."

"Hmm. I think I've got one more 'warmth' in me," he murmured as he pulled me against him.

Feeling his hard cock against my thigh, I rolled my eyes with a grin. "Does he never tire?"

"Tire of you? God's be, no. If I could, I'd keep you naked in bed all the day long."

"Perhaps, someday," I said, wistful for a quiet, comfortable future.

"Someday," Edward agreed.

In the midst of him reawakening my body, the thought came to me unbidden that the future for him and me would surely never be a quiet one.

When we arose the next morning, my stomach was in tumult again. I didn't understand why two days in a row I'd felt so sick. I didn't eat much to break our fast and drank only water. When Edward lifted me onto Moonspawn I swayed a bit and had to grip the saddle horn to hold on lest I fall to the ground.

A bell later, I was so ill I was starting to wish I could just die. I leaned into Edward and squeezed my eyes shut. My stomach was rolling with waves of queasiness.

"Stop!" I cried out as my stomach rumbled hard.

Edward yanked Moonspawn to a halt. I gripped his arm and leaned over to the right, expelling the little I'd consumed this morn. Edward held me firmly until I was finished and then set me to rights.

"Here, lass," Edward said quietly as he offered me the water skin. I took a sip, swirling it around my mouth, then spitting it out. I did this twice, then swallowed a small drink.

"Better?" he asked as he stroked a hand over my forehead, tugging me back against him.

"No," I moaned. "I must've eaten something foul. My stomach is in knots."

"Again?" Rosalie asked me as she halted her horse beside Edward's.

"What do you mean?" I muttered out in misery.

"Being ill. The morning sickness," Rosalie clarified.

Morning sickness? My mother had called it that when she was carrying my brother. When she was carrying my brother. A baby? A baby! I went completely still. I slowly sat up and reverently placed my spread out fingers over my lower stomach.

"You think so?" I asked Rosalie with tears welling in my eyes.

She nodded. "I felt the spark when I was mending your wrist."

"What in Telleor's name are you two talking about?" Edward asked impatiently.

"Help me down, please."

He quickly dismounted and then plucked me from the saddle, setting me in front of him. "Now speak. Are you gravely ill?" he asked in worry.

"I'm not completely certain, but I think, that is Rosalie felt it, and I think she may be right…"

"By all the gods, what is it you're trying to tell me?" Edward demanded.

"Ah. Well, I may be pregnant with your child," I announced in a rushed jumble of words.

Edward held his gaze locked on mine. He didn't speak, didn't move.

"Edward? Are you all right?"

I reached out for him, and that seemed to snap him out of his shock. He slumped to his knees before me. Fumbling hands reached for my hips, pulling me to him. He wrapped his arms around me and rested his forehead against my belly.

My eyes shed the tears that they'd been gathering as I tenderly stroked my hands over his hair. "Our baby," I whispered. "The gods have indeed blessed our binding."

Edward still didn't speak, merely nodded his head in agreement against me. We remained in that intimate embrace until I reached down, placing my fingertips under Edward's chin and lifting his face.

I sent him a gentle smile, and he in turn rewarded me with a look so full of love, I swayed. He climbed to his feet, taking my hands in his.

"Isabella," he said as soft as the wind.

"I know, my love. I know."

Later that day, after we'd halted for the night, I reclined back against a saddle bag as I watched Rosalie coax the fire to life.

"Now I can brew you a tea that'll ease your queasiness," she said to me.

I grimaced.

"Would you rather spend your days purging your stomach?" Rosalie asked me with a frown.

"No. Indeed not. Give me the tea. And thank you, Rosalie." I moved the saddle bag over and lay down with my head then resting upon it.

As I watched her set the pot over the fire and gather her herbs, my mind drifted back to what she'd said to me earlier in the day.

"You said that you felt him?"

Rosalie sprinkled the herbs on top of the water, then sat down beside me, wrapping her arms around her bent knees. "Yes. The life spark is the strongest of all forces. Nothing can dim its light and the power of its will. This child you carry, he's a strong one. I tasted Fyvyn when I sensed him. Fire, the undeniable sweet burn of fire. Much like I feel in you when I touch you."

I sat up. "Fire? You sense fire in me? And in my child?"

"Oh, yes." Rosalie paused and seemed to ponder something. Suddenly, she settled her gaze upon me. "Have you ever been burned, Bella?"

"Burned?"

"Yes. Perhaps tending to your pit fire in your chamber and you accidentally burnt your finger or palm? That ever happen to you?" Rosalie asked me.

I just stared at her for one long moment. "No. Never."

"Touch the fire, Bella."

"What?"

"Place your hand into the fire. I'm curious about something," Rosalie said.

"Just stick my hand in?" I looked at her askance. Was she mad?

"Yes. Just a little bit. Humor me."

I glanced to Edward and Emmett, who were in a deep conversation some distance away and not paying any attention to us. Before I could change my mind, I got up on my knees and held my hand out. Taking a deep breath, I shoved it into the flames. I held it there a moment, prepared for the pain, but there was none. Only heat, but it wasn't unbearable. I yanked my arm back and held my undamaged hand up in front of my face.

"By all the gods," I whispered in wonder, perhaps even fear. I darted my eyes to Rosalie to find her gazing at me knowingly.

"I thought as much," Rosalie said with a curt nod.

"What does this mean? Why is my hand not burnt?" I demanded.

"I think you know what that means, though there hasn't been a living one in several lifetimes."

I gaped at her in disbelief of what she was trying to tell me. Shaking my head, I leapt to my feet. "You're mad," I muttered, dismissing her outlandish idea.

As I walked away, I nearly laughed at such an absurd thought. A beguiler? A manipulator of flames? A fire sorcerer? Me? Those aren't even real. Only legends told to wide-eyed, gullible children. I had almost reached Edward and Emmett when my steps faltered. But you didn't think dragons were real, did you? And here you carry a dragon scale in a pouch around your neck. If those are real, then…then…

"Bella? Are you all right?" Edward asked, his face etched in concern as he approached me.

Shaking myself mentally out of my insane thoughts, I tried to focus on what Edward had just asked me. "I am well. Just seeing if you're taking first watch or second," I threw out rapidly.

"Wanting to get me in our pallet, I see," he replied with a wicked grin.

"I'll take first watch. Just keep it quiet," Emmett said with a laugh.

I blushed and looked away. "Uhm, I'm going to go help Rosalie prepare our repast."

I turned and quickly paced back over to the fire. I sat down beside Rosalie and met her inquiring eyes.

"If I were such a thing, would I be able to control it, to say, protect those I love?" I asked her.

"I really don't know, Bella. The best way to find out, the way I learned how to master my magic, is simply by testing it."

"Wasn't that frightening? Couldn't something have gone terribly awry?" I asked her.

Rosalie shrugged. "The goddess protects me. I have faith in that. She's the power within me, but all the gods dwell near me. Fire is near you, in you, as is the goddess. Be warned, though, Bellyn, the water god is your enemy. I believe you found that out when you tried to rescue Alice." Rosalie titled her head and studied me. "I don't understand this. Perhaps Pynter, the god of the air… No. It's strange."

"What?"

Rosalie trailed her eyes around me as if seeing something not there. "I see…shadows around you. Pale, white shadows. I don't understand what that means. I've seen them around Edward as well. Perhaps they're guardians. Perhaps they're…" Shrewd, narrowed eyes met mine. "Perhaps they're you."

I was beyond being surprised at anything Rosalie would say to me this day. I simply shrugged my shoulder and turned my face toward the fire. "Perhaps they are."

"You must learn to control those powers. They may be able to aide you in the future. If not, they may come to control you," Rosalie warned in a low, urgent whisper.

I scoffed. "Powers? What powers? I'm just some Lord's daughter. I assure you, my parents are quite ordinary people with no special skills. I'm just as ordinary as them. All the rest is conjecture on your part."

Rosalie gripped my arm. "The future, what it holds, is coming whether you're prepared or not. Trust me in this, Bella."

"If you know something, tell me!" I hissed in annoyance.

"I…can't."

I scowled at her. "All you ever speak is vague hints at the future. Never plain speaking."

"Do you not understand? The future is always in motion. What I see can alter in a heartbeat," Rosalie explained.

"I understand that, but why all the foreboding warnings if the future can change?"

Rosalie let go of my arm and sat back. "Because I'm scared, Bella. I'm scared for Emmett, I'm scared for the kingdom, and I'm scared for the entire Eastern world."

"Explain that please."

"War. War is coming. Telleor is dancing in glee for he'll soon have many souls to add to his void. That plain enough speaking for you, Bella?" Rosalie asked, tears in her voice. She stood up and strode away. I watched her long blonde hair swinging, the power of her sorcery evident in the slight shimmer that surrounded her body.

I'm not like her. I don't have the skills she thinks I have. I'm not anything special.

I reached my right hand out and stuck my pointer finger next to the fire.

"Come to me," I whispered.

The fire leapt onto my finger. I drew my hand back and just stared at the tiny flame. I then curled my fingers into my palm until the fire was extinguished.

I turned my gaze back to the dancing flames. A slow, secretive grin spread across my face.

But then again, perhaps I am.

After our evening meal, I drank down Rosalie's foul tea. Feeling so tired I could fall over, I laid out our bedding and was soon curled up on Edward's and my pallet, ready to sleep. He joined me there, placing his sword beside him, then gathered me into his arms and held me loosely.

"Tell me your thoughts, my love," I urged him as I stroked his face.

He sighed mightily. "Worry. Amazement. Worry. Happiness. Worry. Joy. Worry. Wonder…I think you see the pattern," he replied in amusement.

"Indeed."

"Is it a boy or a girl?" Edward asked after a time.

I giggled. "Yes."

"That was a fairly idiotic question," he admitted with a grin. "I deserved that answer."

I leaned forward and met his lips in a gentle kiss. "It's going to be all right. Please do not fret, my love."

His arms tightened around me, careful of his chainmail not to crush me. He rubbed his cheek against my hair. "My queen has spoken, so it must be."

"Indeed. Let us sleep. I'm exhausted. Hold me close."

"Always, Bella, and I'll never let go."

Edward fell into his slumber, his breathing deep and even, but as tired as I was, my mind would not settle.

The fire, it called to me. It almost felt as if the pouch around my neck was moving. Apparently, I wasn't the only creature stirring, pulled by the power of the flame.

Time for the sleeping dragons to awaken, I thought as I closed my eyes.

Once again, the vision came to me of a mighty dragon flying across the sky, so large it nearly darkened the moon. I felt no fear, only wonder. Dragons would never harm me.


Thanks for reading!

A/N: I know this update took forever and I apologize. I'm not stopping writing, but I am slowing down a bit. So, instead of weekly updates you'll probably get an update every two weeks.

xxoo

Sunny