The Volturi

Chapter 11 - The Agreement

I woke abruptly in a warm room, covered in soft satin-silk blankets, the sweet smell of roses filling my nostrils. Was this heaven where all your senses are pleasures with positive exposures? I knew I couldn't be living or undead or whatever it was that you call a vampire, for we didn't sleep. If I was waking up, I was once again being reborn, awakening in the bliss I didn't know existed for my monstrous kind.

"Morning," the mellifluous voice joined the harmony that three out of five senses now enjoyed. I only needed to open my eyes to finally be reunited with the person who meant the world to me.

"Dave," I smiled gregariously, though I knew this shouldn't be a happy occasion. If I was seeing him again, we had to be dead, but that meant nothing to me as I longed to see him, to finally be with my other half.

"It's a miracle you pulled through, though I expect nothing less of you," his chuckle flowed melodically, chiming in a magickal way no human voice could travel. I guessed even in the life beyond, we kept our vampire characteristics.

"Dave..." was all I could say, and I tried to get up, but he held me firmly in the bed.

"Carlisle says you need rest," he frowned. Rest? Why did we need to rest if we were already dead?

"He thinks he's dead," I heard Edward's voice from the corner of the room. If he was here, I couldn't be in heaven. Was I in hell? "That's not nice," he chuckled, amused.

"Why is he here?" I muttered, annoyed.

"You used to like me a lot," the young vampire frowned, his golden eyes showing affected sorrow. "Bella used to be threatened," he nettled on, testing my patience, which was surprisingly short though I was usually calm in the presence of my brother.

Angrily, I jumped out of my bed and lunged myself at him. Quickly, he moved from his spot, and I wound up tumbling onto the ground. For a split second I thought of how quick he was, probably a true asset in the battle that had just ended. Then I remembered he could read my thoughts, could determine my every move as soon as I decided them. He may have been a skilled fighter, but I doubted how useful he could be without his little talent.

"It's quite a shame isn't it?" he taunted, flashing his characteristic grin. He really was a friendly guy, but I still thought he should be burning in hell. Unfortunately for him, I had the capacity to send him there. He may have been aware of this, that I had a skill that no other vampires I knew could do. I smiled at him, and he grunted as I bound his body. I then pinned him against a wall, and Dave shook his head in disappointment, though he was chuckling lightly.

"I knew you liked him," Bella's laughter rang through the room.

"Mmm, he smells so sweet," I joked, making a disgusted face as I stepped away from the guy I still thought was an idiot.

"Ouch," he smiled. "You know sometimes your thoughts can hurt."

"Then get out of my head," I glowered at him, and they all started laughing. It was nice, like I had a family again. I missed this feeling, and I wanted it to last forever.

"Ah, he's awake," The gorgeous blonde, Carlisle, walked into the room.

"And recovered flawlessly, I checked," Edward was still chuckling.

"I'm glad to see you've made a full recovery," the blonde said in a sincere voice.

"Thank you for helping me," I replied.

"I only did what was expected after you selflessly risked your life to aid us all," the man said genuinely, and I almost choked at his seraphic qualities. This was no vampire, he was some kind of angel.

"We all value him as such," Edward smiled.

"Are you serious?" I scoffed, completely annoyed. I could feel the young vampire prodding around in my thoughts, and while I could sometimes shield my mind, it wasn't an easy thing to do.

"Can't you at least pretend you're not listening?" Bella sighed, rolling her eyes, though the smirk on her face clearly showed that she was entertained by her lover's jest. Why wouldn't she be? They were inseparable. "Really Edward, since when did you become so much like Emmett?"

"Ouch," he pretended to be hurt, and nudged himself closer before pulling the girl into his arms.

Suddenly, my nostrils flared at the horrible stench of wet dogs that filled the room. I quickly looked over to see four males walk into the room. Were they the ones that had such an unpleasant smell? I studied these four, all overly muscular, intense looks in their eyes that I was so familiar of. They shared the eyes of those wolves, and I wondered if they could be the same creatures. Was shape-shifting a common ability amongst some special group of vampires? The smell would certainly make sense if these men were the wolves, but where was the little grey one that I remembered so well?

"So you're up," the obvious leader of the pack smiled. His face was familiar, and I knew he was the man who Nessie showed me in her memories. "You gave us quite the scare back there; it would've hurt us a lot to lose you." His concern was genuine, though I didn't know why. Did all the members of the Cullen family suddenly grow some great interest in me?

"They aren't vampires," Edward explained to me. "They're shape-shifters, werewolves."

"I thought I told you to stay out of my head?" I looked intently at him and he shrugged.

"Glad to know someone else dislikes him," the leader shot a glance at Edward before turning back to me. "Leah would like to speak to you."

"Leah?" I asked quizzically. Then, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen walked into the room. She didn't have an obvious, pretentious beauty like some of the female vampires. She had a natural beauty, color in her angular cheeks that defined her unique face. Her dark hair fell lightly on her olive shoulders, and her powerful features told me that she wasn't the type of girl that needed pampering, she could take care of herself.

"You…" I said, knowing instantly through her beaming eyes that she was the little grey wolf whose fur I wanted to caress. My body moved quickly before my mind could catch up, and the four men behind her growled as they took on defensive poses. But they fell back and relaxed, as my cold hand touched her warm cheek, fiery, intense like the stunning perfection of this woman.

"Your brother was not kidding when he said you were absolutely flawless," she said, her voice magickal. She didn't have the sing-song melodic voice of the vampires. It was more callous, more real, more lively. The sound of her heart racing quickly sent me into a frenzy, and her boiling blood was sweet, burning my throat in a way that I actually enjoyed. I knew she was a wolf, but unlike the others, her smell did not bother me, it was luscious, the intoxicating pureness of muddy earth after a solemn rain.

"You are quite the paragon of pulchritude yourself," I whispered to her, unable to release my gaze from her eyes, unable to move my hand from her wonderfully hot cheeks that burned my palm in the same way I knew my touch chilled hers.

"Okay, I really think I'm going to throw up," the biggest male made a mocking gagging sound. "I don't even want to see what's going on in her head." All four of them broke out in chuckles, and Leah glared at them.

"Yes Jacob, lucky you can't hear my thoughts," she said fiercely at them. This was my kind of girl.

"Okay, this is all a little too weird for me," Bella said, frowning. "How does a vampire and a wolf even end up together?"

"Imprinting," Edward said, as though that word solved all the problems.

"What the hell is imprinting?" I asked, and I looked at my brother who stared lifelessly at the ground, obvious sorrow washed over his expression.

"It's like a soul mate, but stronger. Wolves create an unbreakable bond with a single person, though I've never seen them imprint on a vampire," Edward explained.

"It used to be a legend amongst my people, but suddenly, all the wolves are imprinting, and it doesn't seem like much of a legend," Jacob shrugged. "We'd never thought old Leah here would imprint, let alone on someone who actually finds her attractive." Leah made a fist, and I knew that she was planning to smash his face in, so I quickly grabbed her arm and kissed her hand. She smiled, and instantly all her anger dissipated. Jacob made that same gagging noise again, and this time I thought I would amuse my angel a bit. I looked at the towering male for a split second, and suddenly he was sputtering angry words I didn't understand as his body fell instantly to the ground.

"I'm going to get used to this very fast," Leah chimed, hugging me tightly. Everything about her was perfect, and her muscular, yet slim body fit tightly against mine, like two puzzle pieces made to be together. In this moment of perfection, I could still not remove the feeling of misery exuding from Dave.

"Dave, you okay?" I asked quizically.

"Huh?" he broke out of an obvious haze. "Yeah, fine."

"His powers are a bit cumbersome," Edward frowned, making me uneasy.

"What does that mean?" I asked, concerned.

"Nothing...there's more important matters to deal with right now," he said, shaking his head quickly, and an unwanted presence caused me to stir in antipathy.

"Why are they here!?" I snarled, the noisome smell of the girl I despised most fluttered in the air, breaking me out of the perfect moment I wanted to hold onto. I could sense the diamond formation was finally broken, now a triangle, though the head of the coven had altered. I scowled at the idea of Jane actually stepping down from her position as captain. I pulled Leah closer to me, unwilling to allow them to hurt her more than they already had.

"They are only here to talk," Carlisle said calmly. "Their numbers have severely diminished and they stand no chance against our powers. They come in peace."

"Even Jane?" I challenged, and the sincere look on his face faltered, but did not break.

"She will not be a problem with Bella here," Carlisle frowned, his expression making it obvious that she would try. Unfortunately, he didn't know whether I would control myself.

"Fortunately, I do," Edward scowled, and I wanted nothing more than to lunge at him again and tear his pathetic body into pieces. I smiled at him as he already knew my desires. I thought I saw him cringe at the image that flashed before his eyes, but he kept his composure.

"Can we just remember that you're on my side?" he chimed.

"It would help if you would get out of my head," I scowled.

"Unfortunately, I hear the voices whether I want to or not," Edward explained. "And Bella is using her powers to shield us all from Jane and Alec. I can hear the thoughts of anyone who stays together in her protective shield, except for hers of course," he smiled at the young girl who I knew would be blushing if blood flowed through her body.

"Relax, Brad," Dave smiled at me, his voice placating my irritation. "It was my choice to let the witch twins live."

"What!?" I bellowed out, shocked that he would make such a decision. I could not be angry at him, but I wanted to know what compelled him to do such a thing.

"I think it would be more meaningful if you let them explain," he nodded at me, no doubt in his face that I would understand. Studying his expression, his taciturn attitude was enough to convince me, but I would let the vile creature talk.

"So let's see what they have to say," I muttered, reluctantly.

"I'm glad that you're giving us a chance to explain our actions," the stoic figure, the statue who hardly moved was now filled with life as he walked in. "I'm glad you survived." he added on tactfully at the end.

"Why?" I muttered with antipathy at the last remaining leader of the Volturi clan. He had a bright smile on his usually lifeless face, and this surprised me slightly.

"You are my son, are you not?" Marcus asked, his baritone voice was smooth, much more amiable than I would have ever imagined from such a man. While I wanted to passionately deny what he was saying, refusing to believe any member of the Volturi could be my father, I felt a connection to him that held back my spite. I knew the pain he experienced in his hard life, why he was the apathetic drone that followed Aro around, yet rarely moved. Gianna had explained his sad tale to me, the reasons why he would never be happy again.

His wife, Didyme, was a wonderful person, much like Esme; motherly, loving, and friendly even to her enemies. In a coven like the Volturi, she constantly faced danger, and it was inevitable that a pacifist like her would face an early death. It was hard enough for him to lose his loved one, and Gianna explained that it was harder still for vampires to lose their mate. If that weren't enough, Didyme's mystical powers made losing her even more painful to Marcus. With a soul as pure as hers, it was natural that she be gifted with the talent to share happiness, like some radiant diamond exuding with joy, infecting anyone she came in contact with. Not only did he lose his wife, his mate, his everything, but he was ripped away from the magickal ability that made him smile endlessly.

After this, he never showed any emotion. At first, he had asked Aro to destroy him, end his miserable life or risk exposure as he would parade around in the heart of Italy at the crack of dawn, killing until his death was promulgated. But, knowing his strength, his intelligence, and newfound stoicism, Aro was unwilling to lose this tin soldier, so he had Chelsea bind Marcus to the Volturi. Knowing his painful trauma, understanding all that he had gone through, I could not do anything that would take away the smile that had not touched his stern face for centuries.

"I'm sure you of all people can understand my story," the young blonde now spoke. He stepped in front of his sister, something I rarely saw and from the look on her face, she didn't like it.

"How could I possibly understand?" I spat out, still reluctant to believe that my brother had made an intelligent decision.

"When Jane and I were children-"

"You are children," I muttered angrily.

"Brad, please?" my brother insisted. He really wanted me to hear this.

"I believe I am a few centuries older than you," Alec smiled, his much more genuine and friendly than the demonic gaze of the other. "Our parents passed when we were young, I'm sure you can relate." I winced at his words as the memory of my mother crept up from the collection of repressed thoughts I was sure Aro had discovered.

"Get to the point," I was losing my patience.

"Our new father was-"

"He was hardly a father," Jane was clearly angry and I was sure she held some violent secrets.

"Jane," the brother cracked a smiled at her, and she seemed to ease up a bit. Was he using his powers to keep her in check? "As I was saying, our new father was very old-fashioned. He was quite the chauvinist, seeing potential in me as a male and abusing poor Jane like some tool." I didn't know how I felt about his using "poor" as an adjective for the devil child, but I also never thought she could be abused.

"I had the best childhood, but was constantly tormented by the pain and suffering my sister faced every living moment of her life," he spoke quickly, his voice shaking with painful reminiscence. "He loved me, pampered me, gave me everything I needed and wanted, but Jane..." he looked at his sister who stared apathetically at the wall. Did he block her hearing to ensure she would not be writhing in the agonizing memories?

"She had a new mark every night," Alec continued. "Eventually she grew stronger, could hold back the tears, but even then some days it was too much. She would break down in tears and I knew what he did to her. I knew how he stole her innocence, murdered her spirit, left her an empty carcass with nothing but burning wrath and pain in her body. I wanted to help, but there was nothing I could do.

"I couldn't handle seeing her like this anymore, and I had to escape. I had to get stronger, learn how to protect my sister. I didn't know that protecting her would put her at an even greater risk. As a young child being brutally abused by your father, you think that nothing could be worse. Desperate, I walked through the empty streets, searching for something I couldn't have known. What was I doing? Possibly looking for a hit man or some other equal disgrace, but how could I have expected this? I was lucky. They saw me as weak, a desperate child only deserving death, but this one man, Eleazar was my savior. He convinced the Volturi that I was powerful, brimming with the strength of desire, a passion so fervent that it would grow into immense capacity. I didn't know what he was talking about, but suddenly I was burning in fiery pain.

"I can't imagine what she went through for the days that I was gone. I was sure the beatings grew worse; he must have blamed her for my disappearance. All this was lingering in my thoughts for some time, but eventually, I no longer cared. I lost interest as a stronger desire inundated my perceptions: the thirst, the need to feed. I was only reminded of my hapless sister when I met Aro. He saw everything in my mind, the abuse, the neglect, my treasure that I left forgotten. He wanted her, he wanted to reunite us, so interested in the potential of Vampire twins, something he'd never seen before. Stupidly, I didn't refuse. I thought if she was one of us, nobody could hurt her again.

"But she wouldn't stop screaming. The burning that should have diminished after the conversion was complete, remained adamant in her small body. She lived with the torment daily, escaping the rancor of our ersatz father, only to destroy herself with her own pain and fury. Eleazar knew, he could feel the immensity of her ability, the absolute malady that overwhelmed her body, the possibility of projecting this blight to others. Once again, I stood helplessly watching her as Aro delighted in her suffering. He was our new father, and no different than the one we had just escaped.

"When she could finally muster up enough strength to move, she had to feed wildly, more than the others. She needed more energy to deal with the fire that burned incessantly in her abused mind. When she learned to share this pain, Aro instantly fell in love with her ability. She became number one in his army, and she thrived in the attention and dissembled affection she received. She wasn't used to being desired, and Aro's love, though it was only to her powers, made her loyally bound to him. She followed his every order like some slave dog, and I could not refuse to work with her. I had to protect her in every way I could, having failed her numerous times already.

"That was when my powers became salient. Nobody understood the intensity of my ability until they felt it. The nothingness that overcame them as my silent mist robbed them of all their senses. Jane and I became the treasured jewels of the Volturi clan, and while she loved it, I knew it was fake, the emotions only in context with our fearful powers. We became the first order enforcement of the Volturi.

"My powers, the ability to block all pain, her antidote. It was engendered by my desire to help her, salve the misery she faced for too long. The need to help her and save her made me strong, gave me the one true gift that could finally free her. After everything we faced, she would finally understand what it was like to live. This was all that I wanted, to free her, but life was not so kind. My ferocious ability, the numbing sensation that could heal her, ameliorate her cynicism and return her to the innocent beauty she once was; it worked on everyone and everything, to Aro, Caius, Marcus, everyone. I could numb them all and free everyone from their woes, except the one person who mattered. The whole reason my powers were born, the reason to my existence, I was powerless."

Suddenly it all made sense to me. The ire that flowed through her body, the complete feeling of hatred. The burning that she inflicted on everyone, making them motionless as they writhed in pain. The difference was that she could make their pain stop, but hers stayed with her forever. That fearful power she had was burdening her mind. I could finally empathize with Alec, understand how he felt, for I was going through the same thing. I understood his comparison, how similar we were. We both shared the failure of saving what was most important to us. We tormented ourselves in the fiery pit of our regret, of all the mistakes we made, the entirety of the blame on us as we ended the peaceful lives of the ones most important to us. All we wanted was to be able to return to our innocent lives, no worry of some unexpected death. I wondered how similar David and Jane were.

Alec's powers worked on the physical manifestations of his target, numbing all five senses, while Jane targeted the mental being, burning their mind in unquestionable pain. His ability did not affect him, but hers boggled her mind in chaotic madness. Me, I controlled the physical world, crafting my future, controlling the ground, air, everything. My brother, he could compel the spiritual world, the mental, have anyone do his bidding. I suffered no pain in the safety of my terrestrial land, but did he face the same intense terror as Jane? He couldn't be safe in the ethereal world, nobody could be. I hated to think of the possibility that I was living in a perfect world as he perished in the distress of his powers.

"How much does it hurt?" I asked him through gritted teeth, barely able to make out the words. He looked at me with kind eyes, and I could see the ache burgeoning in the glowing golden orbs.

"It's different from her," he said quickly, shielding his eyes from my penetrating glare. It was obvious he tried to hide the truth as I expected he would.

"Edward," I snarled, expecting the same avoidance from him, but desperate for veracity.

"He suffers, but he can control it," he replied.

"And I can't do anything," nobody had to tell me that I was helpless. No one had to explain my phenomenal powers could do nothing to diminish the mysterious maelstrom that ate away at my brother. I couldn't determine the extent to his pain, so how could I begin to appreciate what he faced daily?

I looked over at the phlegmatic blonde, still staring at the same spot. No expression touched her impregnable face, though I knew she heard every word that had been spoken. Could she so inhumanely be unaffected by her brother's desire to protect her, or did the ire burn away all emotions she could possibly have? Suddenly, the only thing I wanted was to take away her pain, even for a second, to allow her to see her brother, see how much he cared, see life as it really was. If I couldn't give David everything I wanted to give him, I at least wanted Alec to be able to do this for Jane.

"I don't think it will help," Edward scowled, but I ignored him.

I continued to stare at Jane, glare through her crimson eyes. She snarled wildly when I took over her tiny body. As she lost control, she blasted me with immense fury, pain more unbearable than I had ever felt her instill in my mind. She was angry, angry that I would use my powers against her. She hated not being in control, and she projected all her wrath at me, refusing to lose. I tried to remind myself that her powers were only mental, unable to hurt me, but I felt my body blazing until I could see kindling flames. Could she really kill me?

"Alec," I could barely hear her cries through the inferno that engulfed me. Her voice was its usual childish trill, but this time it was significantly different. It lacked the demonic curse that usually plagued it. She no longer felt the pain, she was freed from the burning fire within her, for it was nestled in my accepting body. I could not hold it for long, and the flames quickly receded as they returned to Jane's body.

"Thank you," Alec's voice trembled as he held the weeping girl tightly. At least one of us got our wish, and now their bond would be stronger than ever. He pulled his sister closer as she poured out her emotions, the traumatic anguish slowly emanated from her little body, and he happily accepted it into his. It didn't matter to me how happy I made these two, for I could do nothing for David.

"He knows how you feel," Edward tried to console me. "It's different for you two.
"How would you feel if Bella had your powers?" I challenged. He frowned. I didn't have to speak for him to identify with how I felt, but I needed to say the words to ease my own hurt. "How would you feel if she suddenly felt all you did and you had her incredible shield, the power to block her from all the random thoughts, but it didn't work on her? How would you feel knowing her powers incessantly tortured her mind, and you had the powers to stop it for everyone but her?"

"Brad, it's not like that," David smiled, but he didn't fool me. Mind control was often the most frightening ability in any folklore I knew. Every feeling, every thought of a target's mind could flood through you as you lose control with reality. Quickly, you forget what was really you, no longer being able to determine whether you walked in your own flesh, thought your own thoughts, acted in the way you desired, or if everything belonged to someone else. If my brother faced anything like this, it would hurt me more than anything.

"If only I could take it all away," I spoke of the implausible. "I can see the suffering in your eyes."

"Brad..." he couldn't say any more, and I wondered just how bad it was. "I know if there was any way to make it stop, you'd want nothing more," he finally admitted, and I felt the same trembling agony of Jane's powers stabbing at me.

"Bradley," my brother never used my full name and I knew how serious he was being.
"None of this is your fault, and to be completely honest, I'm happy with my new life." his salient smile told me just how happy he really was. "I want you to know how thankful I am to have a brother like you. I'm the luckiest guy alive, and I know for a fact that these are my feelings and not someone else's."

"David..." my voice was barely audible, but my brother pulled me into a tight embrace, not wanting me to say any more.

"Then perhaps we can come to some agreement," Marcus interjected.

"An agreement," now Carlisle spoke up, interest marked on his tired face.

"A treaty, quite similar to the ones you share with the wolves," Marcus grinned, and the five werewolves growled as he said the word.

"A treaty? That could be arranged," Carlisle smiled.

"The Volturi must continue to enforce the rules amongst the vampires, lest we risk exposure," Marcus explained. "But I understand you will be reluctant in letting our numbers grow again. I shall reassure you that we mean no harm to the Cullens, and we expect the same in return."

"How can we trust them?" Bella asked, glowering at Jane, sharing the same feelings I'm sure the entire room felt.

"A treaty is not easily broken, especially among friends," Carlisle said coolly. "I remember making a treaty long ago that seemed overflowing with skepticism, yet it turned out to be quite the opposite of what was expected," with those words, he turned to smile to Jacob who flashed his pearly whites.

"I don't think it's a bad idea," Jacob said credulously with a warm smile. "And if they try something funny, we can always break their necks."

"I will ensure that the treaty remains unbroken," Marcus nodded.

"As will I on our half," Carlisle bowed respectfully. I couldn't believe the way things had turned out, but I still doubted the integrity of the agreement. While it was clear that Marcus respected the Cullens deeply, not having been involved in the fight to begin with, I couldn't see how Jane or Alec would work under him. Aro had his many minions that would force Jane to work for him, but it seemed as though the witch twins could easily turn against Marcus, then train an army to come and destroy the Cullens in vengeance or perhaps fear. I could no longer think of Jane with complete animosity, but it didn't mean I trusted her any more.

I couldn't get my mind to function correctly, not being as mentally adept as my brother. I tried to think of a solution that would ensure the treaty would be incapable of being broken, but the smiles on the witches told me they had something else in mind. Without Bella, they could easily tear through Marcus, and something inside me wanted to protect him. He was the closest thing I ever had to a father, and I wasn't about to risk his death. There was only one possibility that could keep the twins in check.

Edward eyed me in disbelief as I pondered over what was quite possibly the worst decision I've ever made. He shook his head at me, and I appreciated his keeping my thoughts private as I worked on how I could voice my decision, to break my brother's heart once again. I chuckled lightly at the idea, remembering he no longer had a heart.

"Is something wrong?" David frowned at me.

"It will be," I sighed. I could not keep my eyes on him, for I could feel his sadness exuding out of him. It didn't take long for his intelligent and creative mind to piece together what was happening. Sometimes I wondered if he shared Edward's powers throughout our entire life together, or if he really was just the most empathetic creature to ever exist.

"Bradley, please don't do this," he begged, already knowing what I wanted to say.

"Do what? What's going on?" Bella stared straight at Edward. Thankfully, he remained quiet.

"Bradley, I just got you back," he said, placing his hands on my shoulders. I knew they should be cold and hard, but against my marble body they felt warm, velvet-soft.

"It's the only way," I said reluctantly, still not daring to look at his pained face.

"Can someone please explain to me what's going on?" Bella continued.

"I've decided to join the Volturi," I finally said, and my brother flinched at the name of the coven that should have been his enemy.

"What!?" Bella shouted out. "Are you crazy!?"

"What makes you think you can join so easily?" Jane snarled, clearly unhappy with the idea.

"This is the only way to ensure the treaty remains valid," I spoke quickly, not wanting to change my mind. "If Dave and I are in the opposing covens of the pact, it will forever remain unbroken."

"I can't allow this," David shook his head.

"Dave," I finally looked into his pain-filled eyes. It hurt me immensely, but I had to be strong. This was the only way I could ensure that the Cullens would remain protected, that Marcus would be happy, that nothing would ever threaten David again. "The Cullens are your family, you must protect them."

"I need to protect you too," he challenged.

"I need to keep Marcus safe," I ignored his comment. "I know this is going to be difficult, but it's the best way. I can keep my eyes on the Volturi, make sure they stay true to their virtues, and you can be with the Cullens, finally be in the big family you always dreamed of."

"You are my family," he said, refusing to let go of me.

"And we always will be," I smiled. He sighed. Like before, he knew that once I made my decision, he could do nothing to sway me. I felt the same pain that resonated in me when I first left him at New York City. I was the most selfish person, hurting him countless times for all that I wanted. Everything that happened was my fault; if I never went to Dartmouth, if I stayed with my brother from the start, none of this would've happened. We would both be living innocent, happy lives as normal humans, together.

"You can't blame any of this on yourself," Edward said sympathetically. David sighed when he heard this, and I wondered if I was grateful Edward shared my thoughts, or if I was annoyed as always.

"You're the biggest idiot if you're thinking you're being selfish now," David chuckled, and he tousled my hair playfully. "I know you're doing this for us. That's pretty selfless of you to break away from me just to keep the Cullens safe!" I knew he was hurting inside, but I appreciated the levity in his behavior.

"Thank you, David," I smiled.

"Please take care of yourself," he looked at me with my golden eyes, my weak smile.

"I'll keep an eye on him," I heard a familiar voice.

"Gianna!" I shouted gleefully as the woman who shared every minute of this painful experience walked over to me.

"May we join your coven?" Gianna asked. Isaac and the radiant blonde, Fred, stood by her side. They both bowed in genuflection.

"Please don't do that," I frowned. I was honored that Gianna, Isaac and Fred wanted to come with me, but I could not let them ruin their lives. "Stay with the Cullens, please."

"After everything you've done for me, I must spend the remaining eternity of my life ensuring that you are safe," The dark-haired woman smiled at me. "The Cullens are great people who I truly respect, but they are not my family."

"And I owe you nothing less for all you've done protecting my mother," Fred bowed again.

"And I owe you nothing less after sparing my life!" Isaac smiled brightly.

"Okay okay!" I said, feeling extremely awkward and embarrassed. I was glad vampires could not blush, but I felt heavily self-conscious. "Just please stop acting like I'm your master or something."

"As you wish," Gianna bowed and chuckled lightly.

"You cannot possibly agree to this," Jane said pompously to Marcus who now fashioned a fervent smile.

"I can't possibly disagree!" he guffawed loudly. "How quickly the strength of the Volturi returns! And how immensely interesting it is that you successfully tricked Aro into believing you have rid Isaac."

"What about Sarah?" I asked, recalling my brother shouting her name out during the battle. Studying the expression on everyone's faces, I knew that she was no longer with us. though I was deeply wounded in losing someone so close to me, I did not want to bring sorrow onto what should be a celebration. Leah wrapped her arms around me in support, and I shook my head. "Not important," I lied, my voice cracking slightly.

"I will go as well," Leah said, her voice soothing my sorrow.

"I can't let you come," I shook my head. While it pained my quickly blossoming love to have to leave her behind, I couldn't risk bringing her into the dangers of the Volturi until we got Jane and Alec under control. Jacob's loud roars of laughter penetrated through my thoughts.

"You have no choice, kiddo," he said between chuckles. "She's imprinted on you. And she has to go with you - alpha's orders."

"Imprinted..." I was still confused about the whole topic. Was it only this wolf thing that made me feel zealous towards her, or was it true love? Either way, it seemed like some ridiculous fairy tale that was too hard to believe.

"A werewolf on the side of the Volturi, now that is quite something, isn't it Jane?" Marcus poked at the girl, obviously trying to irritate her. It made me smile a bit as I realized how much I really liked Marcus.

"I have a threshold to my tolerance of stupidity," the girl spat out angrily.

"How funny," Leah smiled wickedly. "I have a threshold to my tolerance of bitch." I instantly knew I loved the wolf, imprint or not.

"Leah!" A huge smile crossed Jacob's face as he held his stomach tightly as though holding back a fierce laugh. She looked at him quizzically and he shook frantically as he fought off breaking into laughter. "Definitely better than Paul." he said before cackling wildly. She grinned. I didn't get the meaning to what he had just said, but I understood its importance to her, as I saw only happiness in the beautiful face of my newly found lover. I tightened my grip around her waist, and nervously gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. To my surprise, she quickly wiped away a droplet of tear that had escaped from the left corner of her eye.

"Leah?" I asked, worried.

"She's not used to being accepted, let alone loved," Jacob continued snickering and he quickly stumbled back as though expecting her to punch him. He gasped as the heel of her foot crashed down on his back in a quick roundhouse even I did not see.

"Ouch," one of his pack members said, though he was clearly unconcerned of the male who lay groaning on the ground.

"You're spectacular," I suddenly pulled her body tightly against mine and pressed my lips hard against hers, fiery, smoky, the polar opposite of my cold, frosty body, but everything identical to my infernal temper. I finally understood the intense love that Edward and Bella shared as I now experienced the same.

"I knew you would like her," my brother chuckled lightly, and suddenly the whole room filled with peaceful laughter. Even Alec joined in, and I could see the smallest grin creep up on the corner of Jane's mouth, nothing like the smile she used to inflict pain. She quickly turned her back to me and crossed her arms, though I thought I heard a little snicker in her fake, innocent voice. Though we knew that many lives had been lost, and my brother and I would be separated once again, this was a happy occasion. The Cullens and Volturi would never wage war again.

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