Chapter Twenty-Nine: The End in the Beginning

Hello, good morning, how you been?

Yesterday, left my head kicked in

I never, never thought that

I would fall like that

Never knew that I could hurt this bad.

"Learning to Breathe" by Switchfoot

"Sam won't let the pack follow me," I assured Carlisle when he anxiously opened the car door for me.

"He knows this is the only way," Edward said from the doorway. He looked at me with hope.

"I didn't come here for you," I told him directly. He nodded once.

"We can't change her here," Rosalie said from the couch. She looked uncharacteristically troubled.

"We need to take her to the Volturi," Carlisle said. "Otherwise they might see this act as mutiny and kill all of us anyway."

"As long as they leave the pack alone I don't care what happens," I said listlessly. I was surprised when Rosalie rose and placed an almost motherly arm around me.

"We'll figure it all out," she said soothingly. And that was how, some 36 hours later, I came to be standing in a grand hall in front of the Volturi members. When I saw Victoria among them I clenched Rosalie's hand for strength. The one called Aro reached for my hand and I let him grasp it, as I had been instructed by Carlisle. His red eyes widened in his paper thin white face and he smiled. The effect only made him look more sinister I decided.

"You have brought me a shield brother," he said to Carlisle. His eyes drifted to Victoria who seemed to be barely maintaining her rage. "You neglected to tell me of her powers Victoria."

"I didn't know she had any," Victoria replied. "She's only a human." Aro's eyes returned to my face.

"She is quite beautiful as well," he mused. "And as an immortal her gift would only grow." Victoria stepped forward.

"You promised me she would be destroyed," she snapped. "That was the deal when I surrendered my newborn army to you. She and those wolves would be destroyed."

"Do what you want to me," I blurted out. "But leave them alone. I will do anything you ask just leave them out of it." Aro rubbed his chin with two fingers.

"An intriguing offer Isabella," he mused. "You would join our ranks? Become a part of our organization in exchange for their lives?" I lifted my chin.

"Yes," I said brazenly. I heard Rosalie's gasp and I heard Emmett murmuring to calm her down.

"And what would you have us do with dear Victoria here?" Aro asked. I could feel the rage build up inside of me at the thought of all her vendetta had cost me.

"Burn her," I said. "Burn her and I will never leave here. I will be on your side as long as you need me to be." I could see Aro exchanging glances with the other vampires in the room, especially the two seated in thrones directly behind him. At Aro's nod two guards moved forward and grabbed Victoria who couldn't even struggle against them. There was a striking noise and Aro stretched his hand out to me, passing me the match.

"You do it Isabella," he said. I took the match impassively and moved to stand over a listless Victoria. She raised enraged red eyes to mine.

"This is for Gabriel, and for Ray and for Amber and Claire," I said quietly. "And the life you have now deprived me of living." A minute later she was a pile of ash. I took a few steps back and fell to my knees. I couldn't stop the sobs rising up from my throat.

"It's over," a small feminine voice said to me. I looked up into the face of an angelic blonde with deep burgundy eyes. She helped me to my feet. The Cullens seemed shocked and I knew at once that this was the deadly Jane described to me by Carlisle. She could burn you with pain so intense you wanted to die.

"Carlisle you and your family may stay here for the night but in the morning you must leave," Aro said. "Isabella will stay in the east wing I think Jane if you wanted to show her to her room." I followed Jane without a backward glance at the Cullens.

"Will I be changed tonight?" I asked Jane. She nodded.

"Aro will not want to waste any time," she said solemnly. I nodded as if I understood which I didn't.

"So he will be the one to…change me?" I asked as she stopped in front of a large stone door. Jane pushed the door open.

"He will probably send someone else," she said. "He doesn't change many of us anymore. He doesn't have the patience. Someone should be here shortly so I would prepare yourself."

"I'm not afraid to die," I told her. She stopped at the door. "I died inside a long time ago." She continued through the door and closed it. I sank onto the bed. It was soft and plush but I barely noticed. My human life was at an end but what had I really done? I had spent years being hunted and allowing my life to be controlled by others. And now my afterlife would be controlled by others as well. But at least I could have several lifetimes to get it right. A soft knock made me look up.

"It's open," I said. A tall, blonde vampire slipped through and closed the door behind him. He was extremely good looking, as all vampires tended to be, with curly hair and a wiry build.

"I'm Damien," he said in softly accented English. "Aro has sent me to you. The process is very painful but I shall try to make it as swift as possible. It is important to remember not to fight the burning and to call out if you need to. There is no shame in this."

"I know what to expect," I said. "Just do it." He moved to sit next to me on the bed and swept my hair aside to expose my neck.

"I am used to resistance," he murmured. "This is a rather pleasant change in pace for me." I closed my eyes as razor sharp teeth sliced into my neck. There was a sharp pain followed by a curious sensation of tugging as he pulled several mouthfuls of my blood into his mouth. Then the burning came. Nothing I had been told could have prepared me for the assault on my body. I could feel Damien moving around my body, his mouth pushing venom into several major arteries; intensifying the burn.

Everything became a blur in the burn. All I could feel was the pain. There were voices but I couldn't articulate what they said or where they came from. Hands moved me and adjusted me even as the inferno inside of me raged on. I started counting to keep my mind off of the pain. At 239,456 the flames started to recede. At 242,003 my heart stopped. Images filled my mind one right after the other so quickly I could barely register them.

My mom laughing. Charlie cleaning his gun. Edward smiling down at me in the meadow. Edward walking away from me in the woods. Charlie's worried face hovering over mine. Jake's warm embrace the day I brought him the motorcycles. Jake's warm kiss. Dancing with Jake at Kim's wedding. Paul kissing me. Paul dancing with some slut in the club. Ray laughing as I tried to fill the copy machine. Gabriel poised over me in bed, sweat shining on his forehead, teeth gritted. Gabriel dead next to me in bed. Leah burning eggs. Carlisle inserting an IV. Then Carter on his knees in front of me. Carter hovering above me in bed. Carter's betrayed face as I sped off in a car.

God make me a bird so I can fly away from all of this, I thought. All I ever wanted was to escape from everything. Then, to my shock and horror, I felt my quiet heart beat. Slowly at first, still too slowly, but it beat. The only thought I had as my heart beat sluggishly in my chest were lyrics to a song: "And I am done with my graceless heart. Tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart. Cause I like to keep my issues drawn. It's always darkest before the dawn."

AUTHOR NOTE: So that is all folks, at least for this story. I will be back shortly with new material and mayhaps a sequel?