A/N: I don't normally place and author's note at the beginning of my chapter's, but I felt it necessary to explain a few things about Chapter 17. For instance, the time line. There was a mix-up while creating it…the present time was meant to be first and a last minute decision placed it last…I modified this to make it flow better. The timeline between Alec finding and forgetting seeing the Cullens…if you look closely, the time line returns to the day Alec finds the Cullen's from Bella's perspective…this is where it becomes clarified how he suddenly forgets and moves on (so 3 days later=the one day earlier you see originally)…
I'm also using the "present day" at the start of this chapter to show we are brought back to the moment of Alec and Demetri watching the school…(just letting you know now so there is no confusion)
My intentions are not to go over two weeks without an update…I was away the previous week and have used this past week to work on the chapter. I don't want to rush them…the result with be the weirdness some of you noted in this chapter. I hope you all stick with the story and see where it leads…Thanks for all your continued support!
Getting Edward to agree to the plan took some time. He wanted to be by Bella's side if it came down to confronting any member of the guard. However, she assured him time and time again that her presence would not be known. Once the wolves agreed to step in and help with the situation, any concern Bella may have had disappeared. There was no doubt in her mind they'd be capable of taking down the Volturi, especially since she'd make sure their abilities would do no harm to the wolves.
Edward, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice and Jasper had already left to go to the High School. Each would be on the look-out for anything out of the ordinary. Bella would be stuck meeting Jacob and the other wolves in the woods by the school. Edward wasn't as convinced involving Jacob was a good idea, considering his inability to control his thoughts despite Sam's orders. However, with him being second in command, his involvement was called for.
"I didn't think you'd show," Jacob grinned as he saw Bella approach the edge of the woods.
"It's called responsibilities, Jacob," Bella told him. "You can't run away from something as though there wouldn't be any consequences."
"I get it, relax" Jacob shrugged. "I'm just surprised you didn't insist of meeting Sam or Embry."
"We don't have time to sit around arguing over who I have to cooperate with," Bella explained. "You're most definitely not my most favorite person, and you wouldn't be my first choice. But what you are all doing means a lot. The least I could do is put up with you if the occasion calls for it."
"So it's not just you wanting to see my handsome face again?" He smirked at her. She glared at him.
"Don't forget my previous warning Jacob Black," Bella warned. "I will not hesitate to take you down if you don't stop with those inappropriate thoughts."
"Alright, alright," Jacob sighed. "I'll try to behave."
"Good," Bella said and started to lead the way into the woods.
"So where are we going?" he asked, matching pace beside her.
"I'm not sure exactly," she admitted.
"Then why are we even here?" He questioned, confused.
"I just have a feeling they'll be in these woods," Bella told him.
"What type of feeling?" he pressed.
"It's just a feeling, ok?" she told him, annoyed.
"Like your spidey senses are tingling?" he joked.
"My what?" she asked confused. She didn't understand his reference. Of course she didn't have any spidey senses.
"Spidey senses…you know, like in Spiderman?" he tried to clarify. When realization did not meet her eyes, he spoke again. "You've never heard or watched Spiderman?"
"No, I led a very sheltered life," she told him. "I can't explain the feelings I get sometimes. Whether I get them from the witch half inside me or the vampire half, the instincts are there. I go wherever they're strongest."
"So what do we do once we get there?" he asked.
"I have to lay low," she told him. "I blocked my scent for the day and masked my presence. If we get too close, we'll still be ok in relation to them spotting me and getting suspicious. But we if stumble upon them, wait for my signal before attacking."
"Why do we wait?" he asked. I've always like the idea of attacking on site…
"That plan is careless," Bella glared at him. "They can easily use their abilities on you and render you useless! You need to wait long enough to expand the shield, then you can attack freely. They won't expect you to be immune to them."
"And it'll work?" Jacob asked, double checking. I haven't seen this shield thing in action…so I'm just making sure…
"I would never agree to sending you guys in if I wasn't sure I could protect each and every one of you," Bella told him. He looked at her for a moment.
"How old are you Bella?" Jacob asked. She glared at him. I'm just curious…it's not for match-making purposes I promise.
"I'm sixteen," she told him. He looked surprised for a moment. "What?"
"It's surprising," he shrugged. "You act a lot older than you actually are."
"There's a lot expected of me," she told him, picking up the pace once more.
"There are times to act your age and times when everyone is expecting looking to you to lead them. I'm just trying to fill the role expected of me."
"Is it what you want?" he asked. If he had been given the choice, being a wolf wouldn't have made his list of top ten lifestyle choices.
"I want to exist in a world where innocents do not lose their lives unjustly," Bella told him. "I want to exist in a world where witches, vampires, humans and even shape shifters can exist freely without the absolute need to hide or live in fear. If I can help make each world better, then yes, I would never choose a different path."
"If my opinion is worth anything," Jacob started, stopping to look her directly in the eyes. "I think if all this goes the way we plan, then you would make an excellent leader."
"Thank you," she sensed the sincerity in his voice.
"And I am sorry for continuously overstepping my place," he continued. "Yes, I think you're attractive and watching you in action is hot. But I do respect the bond between mates."
"You mean that?" she asked, suspiciously.
"Yea, I do," he admitted. "I've seen how the bond between mates works. I've never experienced anything like it, but I do understand it. I never knew it worked the same way for vampires and, uh, hybrids…"
"I don't think many know how things work with hybrids," Bella laughed. Hey, your necklace thing is glowing red… She stopped unexpectedly. What? What is it? She put her finger to her lips, gesturing for him not to make a sound. She tapped her head with her finger next, hoping he'd know to only communicate with her through his mind. She was staring straight ahead of her, where Alec and who could be Demetri stood watching the school ahead of them through the trees. Jacob followed her gaze; the moment he noticed them he tensed. Should we attack? She shook her head no.
"Are the others close?" she whispered, though she didn't need to. The spell she worked kept her completely invisible from the two members of the Volturi. Yes, they're not too far from our current location.
"You should phase," Bella told him. "Just to get ready. Stay here though." She moved closer, knowing she would be undetected.
The eye color is peculiar…one of them thought.
We'll have to follow them, confront them to see if they're a threat…another thought. Maybe they've noticed something suspicious in the area…
She looked ahead to see who they were focused on. The moment she heard their thoughts though, it was clear they'd seen the Cullens. She could see each of them not too far in the distance. She expanded her shield, trying to give Edward the heads up to be careful of what they talked about amongst themselves.
Edward…they're here. Don't make any sudden movements to draw their attention…Go about the day, just be careful. They're listening to you five very carefully… she warned him.
We'll be on our guard, just promise me you'll be safe. He answered.
Don't worry; they won't ever know I'm here. I made sure of it…She watched as the Cullens' entered the school and were out of sight.
"Jacob, there's a clearing east of here," Bella told him. "Go there, that's where they'll be."
How do you know? His wolf form asked her. She just smirked. She was going to make sure they ended up exactly where she had led Jane.
"Just go," she told him. "Be ready." He took off not a moment later, already communicating with the others to be ready to strike.
"Do you think they appear here for recreation or to blend in?" Alec asked Demetri.
"Does it matter?" Demetri answered. "They're among the humans for an extended period of time. We can assume this occurs on a daily basis. It's a risk. We should lure them out."
"We don't want to raise any suspicions," Alec disagreed. "I feel as though I've seen them before. I cannot figure where or how…" Have I seen them before? They do look familiar...
It was now or never, Bella decided. The longer they stood here debating when the best time to get the Cullens alone would be, the greater the possibility of them deciding to act now. She couldn't allow that to happen. Focusing on the two guards beside her, she used her telekinesis to send them flying back until they landed hard in the clearing.
"Don't come out yet," Bella instructed the wolves, who were readily waiting near the clearing.
"What the hell was that?" Alec exclaimed as he shot to his feet. His hands went out slightly in front of him ready to use his ability to defend if needed.
"There's something here," Demetri said with confidence, though he could not sense Bella. What he was picking up on was the stench of the wolves. "Be prepared to use that mist of yours."
"I'm already ahead of you," Alec snapped, disliking Demetri's need to give orders.
"Jacob, I need you three to step out," Bella told them as she braced herself on the sidelines. "I need to see you to cover you. Just don't attack yet."
The three wolves emerged slowly, taking in the two vampires in front of them.
"What is this!" Demetri seethed angrily. "Children of the moon?"
"It couldn't be!" Alec said in surprise. "Aro killed them off ages ago."
"Then explain this!"Demetri demanded.
"There's no time," Alec said. "Let's get rid of them and get back to the guard. They need to know of everything we have witnessed." Alec didn't wait for Demetri agreement. The mist from his hands began to form, slowly creeping its way in the direction of the wolves. Bella took that moment to focus on her shield and the wolves. She watched as it expanded and covered each wolve one by one and ask the mist was met with the invisible barrier created by her shield not too far in front of the wolves.
"What's happening?" Demetri demanded.
"It's not passing!" Alec said, astounded. "It's like something's blocking them! How could they be immune?!"
"It's impossible."Demetri shouted.
"Jacob, Sam, Embry," Bella said. "You're safe. Attack when you see the opening but be careful. They could still be well trained in battle."
As the wolves stepped forward, slowly making their approach towards to vampires, the shield moved safely with them. Alec had stopped attempting to spread the mist when he saw there was no way he was getting around it. There was no other choice but to fight, something they rarely resorted to.
"What now?" Alec asked frantically.
"We kill them,"Demetri answered and took off toward Embry. The hit was unexpected and sent Embry back into the trees. Jacob and Sam zeroed in on Alec with little difficulty. It seemed Demetri had more experience in battle compared to Alec and Bella wondered just how many of the guard would be as ill prepared as he. Positive that Sam and Jacob had the situation under control, Bella focused her gaze on Embry and the vampire headed his way once more. Before Demetri could get a good grip around Embry's body, Bella sent him flying back. Once again he was taken by surprise.
"My arms!" Alec screamed as Sam and Jacob ripped each arm off his body.
"Shut up and fight!" Demetri snapped in his direction as he stood and maneuvered around Embry's next move of attack. "You're part of the guard! Don't be a coward!"
But Alec didn't get the chance to fight before Sam had his head off. Bella had been told very little about killing vampires though she did know to rip off the pieces and set them on fire. And she had just the spell to help out with that part. She focused on the pieces of Alec that lay before her and recited the spell.
Earth, Air, Fire Water
I call upon you
Fulfill this desire
So mote it be
The moment her spell ended, Alec and his body parts caught flame and the focus now remained on Demetri, who now was minus a leg. That didn't deter him though.
"I'll gladly step in if you want this over guys," Bella told them.
Why do you get all the fun? Jacob thought to her as he circled around Demetri, allowing Embry to get the next hit.
"Oh please, this isn't a game," Bella told him. "We need to hurry up so we can inform the others."
Pin him down Bella. Sam told her.
She didn't hesitate. She focused on Demetri and sent him flying to the ground, keeping him pinned down, unable to move. It was an empowering feeling knowing her magic could hold down such an unstoppable force. He struggled against the invisible hold, growing more and more angry with each failed attempt to break free. What made it even worse for him, was he knew it wasn't the wolves doing this. Yet he had no explanation for what was overpowering him.
"I don't know what's out there," he said angrily into the air. "But whatever you are, the Volturi will stop you. They will kill you, and they will enjoy every moment of it. Mark my words. They will fi—" he wasn't given the chance to finish what he was saying before Jacob tore his head off and threw it into Alec's already existing fire.
Sorry…but I didn't think you'd care to much for him to finish…Jacob told her. But Bella didn't need for him to finish what he was going to say. She already knew. The Volturi would find her. But she wasn't afraid of a confrontation anymore. She would be ready and visible. She wanted a completely even battle. And Jasper was the person she needed to go to in order to be fully prepared.
"Come on, let's get this done with so we can give everyone back at the house a full report," Bella told them all. "You're all welcome to come. You were fighting them, after all."
We're going to report back on our land. We'll meet you later tonight to discuss the next plan of action. Sam told her. The wolves left once both vampires were burning and the chance of them coming back was demolished.
Before heading back toward to school to let Edward know the vampires had been dealt with, she took a moment to sit down. So much had happened in what felt like such a short period of time. There was never any chance to just relax and not worry about who is going to strike next or whether it'd be better to just bring the battle to the Volturi instead. So many vampires and wolves surely couldn't travel. No. It had to be here on their land, where they had the upper hand.
She took deep breaths, trying to calm down. She'd had enough.
All she wanted was a few hours to just forget about everything expected of her. A few hours to forget about those who were after her; those same people who were so close to finding her it almost made her head spin. It was what she wanted, right? No. She wanted to be left alone. For the people she cared about to go back to living in peace. And for just a few hours, to forget about everything. Only one person could help her do that.
Bella stood up and ran full speed to the edge of the woods until the school came back into view. They were half way through first period, but she knew Edward would be listening for any news. She opened her mind to him.
Meet me at the cottage…Bella silently told him.
Are you hurt? Is everything alright? What happened? He instantly responded. She heard shuffling from where he was in the school. He didn't need to be told twice that Bella needed him.
They've been taken care of. Just meet me at the cottage.
On my way…He told her. She closed off her mind and ran back through the woods, back towards her cottage. She didn't need to wait much longer before Edward busted through the door, taking in her surrounding making sure everything was safe. He then looked her up and down, making sure she was unharmed.
"What's going on?" he asked as he cupped her face between his hands. She shook her head and snaked her arms around his neck, bringing him down for a kiss. He didn't hesitate. He kissed her back with as much urgency and passion she put into it.
"Not that I mind this," he pulled away, unable to fight the smile on his face. "But what's going on? What's wrong, love?"
"Edward, please," she sighed and pulled him back towards her to capture his lips. She opened her mind to him. I need you…
"I'm right here," he told her between kisses.
"No, Edward," she answered, breathless. "I need you. I need to be with you."
"Bella," he said, taken back. He hadn't expected this with everything going on around them. "I don't think now's the time, love."
"Edward," Bella urged. "It's the perfect time, please. Can we just be Edward and Bella for a few hours before we go back to reality? Please?" I need you Edward…please…
He could never refuse her. He'd been wanting time alone with her, away from it all for what felt like forever. He pulled her back towards him, crashing his lips to hers. Her hands moved frantically as she moved to unbutton his shirt. He knew they couldn't escape the reality, but for now…he would give her what she wanted…what they both desperately wanted. Each other.
"My lords," a nomadic vampire knelt before the Volturi guard. He was there with news that was traveling fast around the country. The Volturi needed to know. It was his duty to report to them and in return, they allowed him to live. "I come bearing important news. There's word of an army gathering in the States."
Aro's eyes instantly shot to look this vampire in the eye. He had sent Demetri and Alec to the States to find Jane and the hybrid.
"An army?" Caius inquired.
"Where, pre-tell is this army gathering?" Marcusasked.
"In Washington, my lords," he answered quickly, not daring to look them in the eye. "They say a coven in Forks, Washington is gathering forces preparing for a battle. A battle…against you, my lords."
"Against us?" Aro spoke slowly. "My, my, this is certainly intriguing information. Come forward." Aro stood, meeting the terrified vampire half way and taking his hand instantly. He saw in the vampire's mind the rumors that had been traveling world-wide. The Cullen's were behind the army. Carlisle, an old and once dear friend of Aro was organizing an army to fight against him…it was inconceivable. And yet, he was curious as to why such an action was being brought upon the guard by Carlisle, of all vampires.
"Brother, what have you seen?" Marcus asked, as Aro threw the nomadic vampire back against the walls.
"Dispose of him, will you?" Felix was at the vampire's side within an instant. Carrying him out to dispose of his body. "It seems our dear friend Carlisle is behind this gathering."
"He is no friend of ours," Caius stood, angrily. "This is treason! Such behavior will not be tolerated!"
"We must move immediately!" Marcus stood.
"No," Aro said, after some thought. "We haven't heard from Alec, Demetri or Jane…Something tells me this is no coincidence brothers. Washington seems to have exactly what I've been looking for. We prepare."
"Prepare?" Caius asked.
"Yes," Aro answered. "Gather the guard. Prepare for battle…visit with the old witch in the dugeon…see if she has any charms to aid us in this battle."
"The witch in the dugeon?" Marcus asked. "When was a witch captured and how is it we only now are informed of this?'
"Around the same time the human came with irrelevant information," Aro told them as though it was nothing. "She was of no use; we needed a witch. Renata, be a dear and go fetch the witch."
She was out within an instant and back before another conversation could be had.
"She's dead, my lord," she told Aro, afraid of what anger would be triggered at the news.
"Dead?" Aro asked.
"It seems she committed suicide my lord," she informed him. "But not before leaving this behind." She handed him a note she found in the cell. He took it instantly.
You and your guard stand no chance against she whom you seek. She will defeat each and every one of you. reign of terror and injustice will end.
He crumbled the paper in his hand, refusing to reveal to everyone what they were about to go into.
"Forget the charms," he told them. "With our abilities combined and our defenses, there stand no chance. Do what you need to do, prepare…recruit as many more special vampires you can find. You have a week. Then we bring the war to them."
"You heard him," Marcus instructed to Felix, who had returned not too long after Renata brought the news of the dead captured witch.
"We'll get as many vampires we can, my lord," Felix assured him. "You have my word."
"Good," Aro said, a sinister smile forming on his face. "They'll never know what hit them."
It was the end of the school day. Alice had waited until they were all together in the lot to explain Edward's sudden absence.
"Did something happen?" Jasper asked.
"Is Bella hurt?" Emmett questioned.
"Are we screwed?" Rosalie added. "Because I wouldn't be surprised if we were.
"No, he just took off suddenly," Alice told them. "Bella needed him, that's all I know. That's all I've been allowed to know." She giggled. She had her suspicions.
"We'd better head back and see what the damage is," Jasper said as everyone got in the car. Emmett was driving.
"I'm sure it all went over very well," Alice told them.
"You don't know that," Rosalie spat. "Your visions aren't all that great where Bella is concerned, or the wolves for that matter."
"Regardle—"Alice stopped short when she was hit with a vision.
Aro was angry and ordering the guard to gather as many forces as possible to be ready within the week to head to Forks, Washington. Carlisle's name had been mentioned multiple times as the culprit behind an army they'd learned about. His decision had been made, and Alice was watching the scene play out before her.
"Alice, what did you see?" Jasper asked once the glazed look in her eye faded.
"Aro," she simply said. "He's made a decision. They leave in a week."
"And where are they going?" Rosalie asked, as though it wasn't already obvious.
"They're coming here," she said angrily. "To Forks. They're accusing Carlisle of treason."Everyone exchanged looks at the mention of Aro's accusations.
"We better hurry back," Emmett said as he hit the gas pedal. "The others will want to hear this, especially Carlisle."