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Gives You Hell

Gives You Hell

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Published by Alexis Decess
I Do Not Own Its From Fanfiction.net
I Do Not Own Its From Fanfiction.net

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Published by: Alexis Decess on Feb 15, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Prologue: I Wake Up Every Evening "Kill them!" "BURN THEM!" "What say you, my lord!

" The London square teamed with life, fire, and retribution in the night. People from near and far were gathered in hopes of seeing someone they despised on the hanging block, dying for their supposed evil nature and intentions. They watched with hungry eyes as another round of prisoners were brought to the noose to be hanged. The gallows were placed on a high platform so that the whole of the square would be able to see the last moments of the condemned. They cheered vehemently at the terrified and hopeless looks in the prisoners eyes as they were lead up the wooden steps, bound together by the heavy irons clasped on their wrists and ankles, and lined up under each available noose. A young man, barely twenty years old stared warily at the platform filled with women, children, the elderly, and the sick. His father, who stood slightly off to his side, wore a grim expression on his face as his unforgiving pale eyes ghosted over the square. He turned to his son, as many called for the final verdict on the accused, and nodded his head sternly. "Get to it, my boy." Carlisle nodded at him, and his heart sank as he cried to the hangman. "In the name of the Holy Ghost, let Justice be done!" Screams and triumphant bellows erupted over the square, and the accused shook in their shackles, pleading with the audience, and Carlisle, to spare them. Carlisle spared a look at his father, who still wore a look of deep satisfaction. He wondered how anyone could think half the people on the guillotine were guilty of witchcraft or the like. He watched as the hangman brought the nooses down upon the trembling condemned, tightening them one by one. Carlisle felt a hitch in his throat as he caught the eyes of the youngest in the group. A small boy, about fifteen to sixteen years of age, pale and lovely. Carlisle's breath had caught the moment he had laid eyes on the boy.

He remembered being with his father, Tobias, when he and several other pastors had broken down the door to a large plantation in the countryside of England. The man who owned it was elderly, with a long white beard that he might have been able to tuck into his belt. He wore half-moon spectacles and carried a long stick to walk. The people in the village called him Albus. The people accused him of casting spells and killing their livestock, special healing powers on their sick, and bewitching children to be near him and whispered blasphemy into their ears. When they came to arrest him, Albus had been oddly accommodating and calm, even as they held his arms behind his fragile back and clamped irons onto his wrists. Carlisle had been bewitched himself with Albus' fragile beauty, even as an old man. His hair was sparkling silver, and his eyes were like deep blue pools that threatened to consume him. Worse still, his voice, though showing so many signs of age, seemed to sing to him. Albus was the first man whom Carlisle thought might have been a wizard. But before they took him away, a snarling woman in the village called to Tobias, telling him, "He has a boy with him, m'lord! A corrupt soul that he uses as his aid! He lives here with him, sir! He's the very spawn of the devil!" Tobias sent the other pastors into the house, and only then did Albus seem to lose his calm. "He is no devil spawn, my lord. He is an innocent child! Leave him be, it's me you want," He tried to reason with Tobias, but the second Carlisle's father saw the boy in question, he chained him up as well. Silky midnight-black hair hung to the boy's shoulders, and his ivory skinned-face, defined cheek-bones, and breath-taking green eyes almost made Carlisle weak in the knees. The boy was dressed modestly in a long green tunic with black work trousers, cloth boots adorning his feet. They chained him to Albus, the older man speaking softly with the boy, shaking his head every once in a while. The boy kept his head down, nodding, and even smiling slightly at his mentor. Albus patted the boy's cheek, kissing his forehead, muttering reassurances until

Tobias had put a boot into the man's back, pushing them both towards the wooden trailer they had waiting. Children, both boys and girls, screamed at the pastors to release them, but it only fueled their suspicions more. Girls cried out, "Harry! Harry! Be strong Harry! The Lord will spare you!" Carlisle found out that the charge's name was Harry Potter. His parents had died when he was but an infant, and Albus had taken him into his custody, raising him in the comfort of his own wealth. The one thing that always troubled Carlisle, was that even in the face of such cruelty and sadness, both the boy and the man kept their gazes on each other, with almost a mischievous look in their eyes, as if they weren't really concerned about the horrors that awaited them. They're countenance had suggested that somehow they knew, this wasn't the end. Carlisle shook out of his revere, eyeing the ancient man beside Harry. He seemed at ease, staring into the faces of the hateful crowd, but showing no resentment towards them. The boy, however, looked fiercely into Carlisle's eyes, almost striking through to his soul. He breathed to contain himself, but somehow he felt there was something the boy was trying to tell him, as if he knew Carlisle's burden in following his father's footsteps. The boy really was beautiful. Women and children in the crowds cried for his release, while the men claimed that the boy was bewitching them to lust for him in the hopes of his emancipation. Harry's striking green-eyes bored into Carlisle, and almost as if he were standing right in front of him, Carlisle saw a flicker of something. Just as the hangman brought down the lever that would trigger open the trap doors, Harry's eyes turned black. Four years later, Carlisle was bitten by the very thing his father was trying to weed out. In the instant that Carlisle knew the changes that had been inflicted on him, he knew one thing was true. Harry… and his mysterious mentor Albus… were still out there. Carlisle spent many years trying to track down the boy known as Harry Potter, but everywhere he looked, there was nothing.

He spent many years thinking back to that day, about how the hangman had cut the bodies down when they had gone limp. It would have been so easy to fake death for Albus and Harry. Their skin would have already been ice-cold, and their hearts wouldn't have been beating. So easy, it must have been, for them to lay there with the rest of the bodies, be picked up and buried within shallow graves, waiting for the crowd to disperse, and then climbing out and disappearing into the darkness, without anyone knowing. One thing that continued to puzzle Carlisle, however, was their eyes. He remembered vividly the clear blue of Albus's, and the emeraldgreen of Harry's. He remembered as if he had been only a breath away from Harry how his eyes turned black before they closed as he hanged. They were vampires, he was sure. All the parts of the puzzle came together when he knew this fact. The livestock that they kept, dying in the night; Their uncommon beauty, making others mad for them; their eerie calm in which they dealt with their impending fate; and the black eyes Carlisle remembered so well. The first thing Carlisle had done when he had outgrown is maddening thirst was to begin looking for Harry and Albus. He searched high and low, but they seemed to have disappeared. The villagers from their plantation had thought it odd that when they had gone to the mansion for the goods they'd left behind, there was nothing. They attributed it to the Devil taking back his possessions, but Carlisle knew better. It was only when he found the Volturi that he had learned anything. Aro had been ecstatic when he heard that Carlisle had met them. He was astonished that Carlisle had run into them when he was still human. "A truly providential coincidence!" He cried. Caius and Aro related the story of Albus and Harry. Albus was truly an ancient. If Carlisle had thought the Volturi were old, he was speechless when Aro said that Albus had been the one to change them. The details of Albus' life were a mystery, but they told him that as long as they had known Albus, Harry had always been with him, as his ward. The details over whether Harry and Albus were actually related, as

they had both lived longer than any other vampire that was still around to that day, were unknown. Harry and Albus had been traveling together for thousands of years, never leaving each other's side. Carlisle was beyond curious about their eyes, and Aro had acquired an almost envious gleam in his eyes as he told him that they had a particular, and most coveted, power. Albus and Harry both had the power of changing their appearance. Their eyes were the colors they were when they were born, and their skin didn't sparkle in the sunlight. They were able to walk among humans as if they were one of them. "They also," Caius remarked distastefully, "don't eat humans." There was a brief period, as Marcus had surprisingly cut-in, a time in which Harry had rebelled against Albus' teachings, and that had led to a massacre in Egypt in which Harry had butchered thousands in his insatiable lust. "He's mellowed out a bit, since then," Marcus defended him, almost affectionately. Carlisle had assumed that the Volturi knew both Albus and Harry intimately from the way that they spoke of them. "We haven't seen them in almost… well, I'd say almost 300 years. We must find a way to contact them. It's been far too long," Aro swooned. "I do miss our talks with our sire. We had been hoping that Harry would stay with us, since Albus is so fond of moving about instead of staying in one place. But alas, those two are inseparable." "Is there anyway to get in touch with them? Do they send word when they move?" Carlisle had asked. The three had sighed, and conveyed that they rarely spoke to them anymore. Carlisle assumed that maybe the lavish lifestyle that the Volturi lived might have been a factor, but he had never encountered a group of vampires that still held such reverence for a sire that didn't live with them. Carlisle had given up his search after that. If the Volturi couldn't tell where Albus and Harry were, then he had no hope of finding them. He couldn't explain his urge to see them again. Perhaps it was to apologize for doing them wrong when he was ignorant and only

following his father's orders. Perhaps it was to talk to them about how they lived, learn from their knowledge. Or perhaps he was drawn to the peculiar companionship they had, and wanted the same thing for himself. Whatever else he learned about them, he wanted to know more. The Volturi could do little more than tell of their exploits with them, how they had become very good friends before their differences drove them apart. The only thing proof they had of their existence, however, was a small painting that looked centuries old. Carlisle recognized the beautiful ageless face of Albus and the smiling face of Harry, along with the three Volturi leaders. Harry stood close between Albus and Marcus, sharing a smile with Didyme, Marcus' long-since passed wife. Aro and his wife, Sulpicia, stood to Albus's left with Caius and Athenodora. Together, they starred into the night they had been painted in. The only emotion Carlisle could detect came from Harry, Marcus, and Didyme. Something told him that Harry's relationship with Didyme contributed to Marcus's apparent affection toward him. Carlisle asked if perhaps he could make a copy of it, and Aro hired a painter to duplicate the picture. The painter then asked to do another portrait of Carlisle and the Volturi together, stunned by their unearthly beauty. Carlisle took the painting wherever he wandered, feeling like Albus and Harry were a piece of his past that he should want to forget, but couldn't seem to let go of. 255 Years Later… Forks, Washington Carlisle sat in his study, reading through another medical journal amidst the chaos that was going on downstairs. He could hear his beautiful Esme scolding Emmett and Jasper since their most recent wrestling match had almost murdered her Victorian antique table in the dining room. Alice was flitting about the house, lost in her own mind, while Edward played a medley on the brand Gibson Concert piano Esme had purchased for him in the hopes of getting him to play more often.

Carlisle's longing for companionship had ended when he found Edward Masen barely holding on to life in Chicago during the Spanish Influenza outbreak. Edward had been everything he wanted in a companion until he met Esme. His family had grown since falling in love with her, but still Edward remained alone. He had tried to find a mate for Edward, even turning the beautiful and dying Rosalie Hale. But it was fruitless. Edward was frustrated with her self-adoration and pig-headedness and had fallen into resentment instead of love, as Carlisle had hoped for. Even Rosalie had found someone to love her for all her faults, and Carlisle continued to see that Edward had no interest in finding a mate. He had slighted poor Tanya and the Denali coven, though she had showed significant interest in him. Carlisle had worried a few years into his transformation if he would end up alone. It had taken well over 200 years for him to find Esme. He supposed that if it could take him that long to find his chosen, then he really shouldn't worry about Edward finding someone. He was only approaching one hundred, and had more than enough time to look when he finally chose to. He seemed content enough to just be alone. It wasn't long before Edward got frustrated with Rosalie's narcissistic thoughts that he whisked himself into Carlisle's study, if only for the silence that it promised. He shut the door behind him with an irritated sigh, and looked imploringly at Carlisle, who could only spare a sympathetic smile towards him. Carlisle chuckled at his 'youngest' adopted son. "You have to admit, at least she doesn't have self-image issues. It could be worse." "A little insecurity wouldn't hurt. Just a moment of peace without having to hear about Rosalie's perfection would be bliss," Edward scoffed as he walked towards the wall on the opposite of Carlisle's desk. He began scanning through the various journals and books on the bookshelf, like he'd done many times before when his siblings had gotten overly frustrating. It wasn't like he didn't love them. He cared deeply for Alice and Esme, and he often did enjoy playing pranks and wrestling around with Emmett and Jasper. Rosalie was much too prim to offer him any kind of companionship unless he was just in a cynical kind of mood. He was still flipping through the literature for something interesting when Alice hopped into the room. "Edward! We're going in to town for

the day, are you coming?" "I'll think about it Alice," He said, distractedly. "Please?" She floated towards him, watching his marble hands quickly moving cross the spines of the books. "I need someone to talk to, and Rosalie will only tell me that everything looks horrible on me." "What's her excuse this time?" Edward chuckled, happy for the lightened atmosphere. How Emmett could fall in love with a girl like that was far beyond Edwards understanding. "She says I'm too skinny." "Good luck trying to gain some weight. I heard starch and red meat does wonders…" "Edward!" She punched him hard on his arm, which flew back, knocking something off the bookshelf. "Careful, you to! There's important files in there!" Carlisle rose and flashed over to rescue whatever had fallen. "Ooo… what a beautiful picture!" Alice squealed, picking up the dusty old canvas before Carlisle could see what it was. "Oh, it's the Volturi…" She seemed almost disappointed. Carlisle felt a pang when he saw what Alice and Edward had found. It had been over a century since he had last seen the painting. He'd put it away with his old things, hoping to forget it and move on to other matters. Once he'd turned Edward, it had all but disappeared from his mind. There was a thin layer of dust on the canvas, and Edward blew across the painting and pointed to the two distinguished figures in the middle of it. "Who are they?" He didn't have to ask. Carlisle knew that Edward was currently breezing through his mind as memories of the last day he had seen Harry and Albus surfaced, as well as the information that the Volturi had confided in him. Edward looked puzzled as he turned from Carlisle to the painting, scrutinizing it. "Albus and Harry?" He already knew the answer, but he asked

anyway, if just to provide some clarification for Alice. "Who's Albus and Harry?" Alice asked, her voice sounding far away. Edward traced Harry's arm that hung by his side as he smiled with Didyme. "You killed them…" "Killed would be incorrect, since they were already dead, Edward," Carlisle seemed to want to crush any scrutiny surrounding his relationship with Albus and Harry. Edward laughed. "I keep forgetting that you were human once, dad. It's ironic that it was only when you turned into a killing machine that you stopped killing people." Carlisle looked at Edward with a dry look on his face, and Edward had the decency to look regretful. "Sorry. I'm in one of those moods." Carlisle sighed, and took the painting from Edward's hands, and proceeded to tell them everything he knew about the pair. "Why did you care so much about finding them?" Alice asked. "Well," Carlisle sighed, "I think that maybe it was because they were the only other vampires I'd ever crossed. The first real ones I'd ever crossed, anyway. Maybe I thought they could help me. I think it might be deeper than that though. I can't explain it," Carlisle's brow furrowed. "I think I have a connection to them. I'm not sure what it is, but I have a feeling that one day we'll meet again, and I'll finally find out," He stared reverently into the distant blue eyes of Albus. "You always were obsessed with learning, Carlisle," Edward chuckled. "Maybe you're just curious, like the rest of us." "I can't believe that man is the reason we're dealing with the Volturi," Alice said, squinting at him. "It's hard to imagine anyone being older than the Volturi, but look at him. He must have been changed when he was… 90!" She looked scandalized at how someone could bite a man so elderly. "From I've gathered, you shouldn't judge a book by the cover, Alice," Edward said, looking at Carlisle as he said it. Carlisle nodded, wondering to himself what kind of ageless

knowledge the man must hold in those eyes of his. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Edward looking intently at Harry. Carlisle looked at Alice, who seemed to be watching Edward as well. Carlisle asked with his eyes, and she shrugged. If anyone would be able to see anything of Harry or Albus, it would be Alice. Osaka, Japan The night was darkest over the sea, the flush of humidity echoing off the waves swept up into the young man's face, ruffling his perfectly untidy hair. The black of his eyes was reflected in the sky and the water, and he inhaled the frosty air, laying back into dew-drenched grass alongside the runway of the Osaka International Airport. His black V-neck shirt rustled along his chest as another plane took off beside him, and he watched it fade into the dark clouds overhead. Harry sighed, happy for a relaxing moment. He checked his watch to see he had about twenty minutes before he needed to find Albus and prepare for the flight. He chuckled when he thought about the old man. He was probably inside searching through one of the gift shops for any new gizmos to bring with him and add to his collection. The guards at the security check point had stared at Albus as if he were about half as barmy as he really was when they saw all the toys in Albus' carryon. Before, when old men acting the way Albus did was clearly unacceptable, Harry used to switch bags with him. Harry's bag carried more practical things that a man twice his age would carry: Books, music, newspapers, food. Albus' bag had about all the things that a boy Harry's age would have: magazines, music, some magnetic bits that you could make up into a small sculpture, flubber, and a slinky. Harry remembered when he bought the slinky for Albus when they had finally come out of seclusion in the mid-1940s. Albus had been fascinated with it, and took it on the plane with them when they decided on a vacation to Fiji later that year. The honeymooners and business executives stared at the old man while he 'ooo-ed' and 'aaahhh-ed' at the toy for the whole twelve hours they were on the plane from Mexico. Harry was completely happy with his companion. Albus had been his

closest friend for over seven thousand years, and despite the age difference, he found more things in common with him than most people could hope to find in another. When Harry was human, he had grown used to being alone after his parents had been murdered when he was only a year old. The group he lived in was very violent. Harry had read up in some books that they had grown into a large people that people referred to as the Celts. That was after Harry's time though. They had been prepared to kill Harry and relieve themselves of the burden of raising a newborn that didn't belong to anyone when Albus had turned up and offered to take him off their hands. After raising Harry for well over a decade, he decided that Harry would be his companion, and after Harry gave him his permission, he bit him. Albus' history was a mystery to many, however Harry was a special case. Albus was everything that Harry needed in his life as per the moment. He was his confidant, his father, his grandfather, his teacher, his mentor, his best friend. Albus had been known to pull the age card on Harry before, but for the most part, they acted the part of two friends, but to the outsiders, they were grandfather and grandson. "Harry!" Harry smiled as he heard his old friend's boots clicking on the runway behind him. He sat up quickly and turned to see Albus in a Seattle Mariners baseball cap and Seahawks football jersey thrown over his dress shirt and trousers. Harry sighed. It was going to be another embarrassing plane trip to Seattle, Washington. Albus and Harry had a system for where their next destination was after they had tired of their current position. Osaka had sated both of them for over thirty years in the country outside of the city. There wasn't a lot of speculation, and the man that was in charge of their affairs made sure they weren't disturbed during their dormancy. The scheduled seclusion suited both of them perfectly, since they were both private people anyway. It helped not having to deal with the hustle and bustle of human life. They preferred to just float through unnoticed. It definitely worked. That system was simple. They packed their things and set off for the airport, picking the next flight out of Osaka. The attendant had given them first class tickets to Seattle, Washington, and Albus had wasted

no time in making sure he was up to date on the latest fashion trends, picking up magazines, all sorts of new candy, and, apparently, the sports garb. Albus dropped something into Harry's lap, and he picked up a slender green object and looked at it. "What is this, Al?" Albus smiled at him. "It's an iPod! Apparently that little thing can hold THOUSANDS of songs on it! I found it at one of those stores with the big apple on it when I was checking my bags. They have whole stores in the airports now. It's incredibly nifty." Harry raised a brow as soon as he heard the word 'nifty' leave Albus' mouth. "Whatever the matter," Albus continued, "I mentioned to the shop assistant that I had two grandchildren that would like one, and she set me straight with all the functions and even put her 'playlist'" Albus sounded the word out like it was in a foreign language, "on it, and now, all you need to do it press play, and it plays all these songs. Modern technology never ceases to baffle me." He scrutinized his own little gadget, putting something attached to a cord in his ear, and then promptly started swaying to the sounds in his ear. Harry chuckled, putting the thin object into his pant pocket, and before standing completely up and grabbing Albus' arm gently. "C'mon, Al. We'll miss our flight," He guided Albus towards the building. "Wait till I tell you about this number game too! It's called Sudoku…"

One: You Are Young and So Am I The fifteen-hour non-stop flight to Washington proved to be very interesting. It provided ample time for Albus to come to terms with the new technology of the age by bombarding the man next to him about his 'laptop' for a few hours before turning on his iPod and sucking on a homemade blood pop while Harry read the American newspaper with a dry smile on his face. Somehow, despite his centuries of knowledge, Albus still managed to act like a child. Harry was oddly envious of him. Albus finally calmed down enough from his

excitement at all the new developments and asked to see the paper when Harry was done, and just like that, assumed the role of the quizzical grandfather. Harry used that time to play with his iPod, trying to find some music that he liked. Albus must have gotten a teenage shop assistant, because most of the songs were some overly harmonic groups and then some were not even singing, more like… yelling with rhythm. In the end, he had settled for playing Albus's little number games, and watching the movies the airline had to offer. Naturally, the flight attendants made it hard for him to drift into his own thoughts as they kept coming by and offering him food and drink. Harry ordered a rice and sushi entrée for himself and Albus, thinking it might be weird for a man as old as Albus to go fifteen hours without eating something. He rolled up the contents in napkins and threw them away periodically until the entire meal was gone. One girl was particularly persistent, and even wrote her number down on a napkin under Harry's drink. Albus took a look at the number and chuckled to himself. "Somehow, I thought that the 'tan' looking boys were what the ladies liked. Seems like the times have changed, once again," He looked away and started reading his magazine again. "Merlin, Marlon Brando is dead. Such a shame, I thoroughly enjoyed his work…" Harry had acquired a cell phone before they left Osaka, and managed to phone an old friend that had been in charge of their affairs throughout the years about a place to live once in Washington. Harry made it clear that the less populated, the better, and some place spacious as well. "My grandfather likes plenty of room for all his antiques." He explained. The agent had assured them that he would find the perfect place for them. He had never failed them before. Sure enough, within a few hours, he had put Harry in touch with a man named Gibbs, who had a large property that had been on the market for some time. "From what the agent said, I think you'll find it immensely satisfying, Al," Harry said, turning to his friend. "It was designed by a woman that lives nearby outside a town called… Forks." Albus chuckled. "They run out of names for towns, they start picking eating utensils?"

Harry smiled. "Perhaps. But she's a celebrated interior designer, at least from what the agent has told me. Uncommonly beautiful, he says. Lives with her husband and children in another one of her designs close to the border." "Uncommonly beautiful?" Albus frowned, looking up from his magazine. "Might be someone we know. Did he mention a name?" "Cullen." "Hmmm…." Albus mumbled, his clear blue eyes narrowing slightly. "I'm not sure, but I think I've heard the name on the wind." Harry leaned his head back in the seat. "Well, you're the one with the 'feelings', Albus. What does your gut tell you?" "That there's a steady depletion of giant panda bears in China… I do hope they do something about that, I don't know what I'd do in a world without panda bears…" Harry sighed. Albus had a strange connection to life, wherever and whatever that life was. It was almost as if he were taken from the earth and made human, but still a part of it. He could sense anything in world if he wanted to, could sense the turning of the tides, the gusts of the wind, the treading of animals, and everything. Albus made a point of only hunting animals that there were plenty of. He also had a way of knowing what would happen before it happened. It fed Harry's thinking that Albus secretly knew everything only feigned that he didn't. Some mysteries he would never know, even over the centuries he'd spent with the man. "I think all will be well, my boy. I've never met a Cullen I didn't like," Albus spoke, and Harry almost groaned when he saw the twinkle in his eyes. "Albus? Why do I put up with you?" "Harry? I think the question is, why do I put up with you?" 'Konban wa. Delta International Airlines. We are ready to begin our decent into Seattle. Please put your trays in the upright….' Albus put his things away faster than any man his age possibly could, and placed his white marble hands on his arms rests. "I do love this

part." Carlisle had been very preoccupied the entire morning at the hospital. He had pushed Albus and Harry to the back of his head for such a long time that when they finally reappeared by chance in the wellhidden painting in his office, he began to wonder of the meaning of it all. He supposed that it was just chance that Edward's hand had flown into crevice of the bookshelf where he'd stashed the painting, hoping that he might never run across it again. The painting brought mad curiosity that would never be quenched back into his head. He sighed, looking at the clock. It was almost noon. His phone rang. He looked at it hopefully as Alice's name flashed on the screen. He had asked if she had been able to see anything on Albus or Harry, but when she had last tried, she hadn't seen anything. It was most frustrating for Carlisle, especially since Alice prided herself on being able to see almost anything. Alice spent several hours staring into the faces on the painting, but it was all in vain. He flipped the phone open and held it to his ear. "Nothing," Alice's voice was defeated. Carlisle pressed a hand to his head. He'd put so much faith in Alice to at least let him know where they were. "I don't even see a face, Carlisle. All I see are flashes of woods, train stations, large masses of people, and darkness. A lot of darkness." "I suppose they may have been able to change their appearance to blend in with the surrounding locals." According to the Volturi, they had only ever heard of Albus changing his eyes and protecting his skin from sunlight. Once Albus had changed his hair color to a saltand-pepper color to appear younger, but that was the extent in which he would change himself. No way Albus could have hidden from Alice with only subtle changes like that. The only explanation he could come up with was perhaps their movements were too erratic to be foreseen. The Volturi remembered fondly the times in which they moved with Albus and Harry through the world, following Albus' never ending need for something new and exciting, before they found a particular calling to settle the rampaging

vampires that flooded the earth. Albus had an old contact in Volterra, Italy where he spent many of his years studying. The castle, that now belonged to the Volturi, had been commissioned by Albus himself as a gift. He requested to remain anonymous after it was built. Albus and Harry preferred to not leave a mark in history. It was only by chance that Marcus and Didyme convinced them to pose for a picture to remember them by. "It's all right, Alice. I thank you for trying," Carlisle said calmly. He shouldn't have gotten his hopes up. "Sorry Carlisle. I'll keep looking though. I'll talk to you later. School starts in a week. Got to make sure I have an outfit for each day." Carlisle smiled fondly as the pixie-like girl hung up the phone. He turned back to the papers on his desk. A surgery should take his mind off the two wayward vampires. Alice sighed as she rearranged the flowers in the living room for what seemed like the fifth time. She had spent the early afternoon shopping for her new school clothes with Rosalie and Edward. Edward had ended up in a surprisingly good mood for spending five hours in Rosalie's immediate vicinity. He let Alice throw a good amount of clothing into his extending wardrobe, and she had let him drive into Seattle to pick out some new speakers for his stereo. Rosalie complained the entire time, of course. She took account of everyone in the house. Emmett, Edward, and Jasper had gone on the hunt, Rosalie was doing her nails….again, Esme was looking over some new blueprints, and Carlisle was still at the hospital. She felt bad that she hadn't been able to see anything of any consequence to Carlisle. It was possible that the two could be more powerful than she imagined and could block her, but how would they know to? And it didn't explain the few things that she could see. How could a pair be so erratic in their decision making that their future was as swift and changing as the ocean? Alice flew upstairs towards her room, hoping to find something useful to do, when she passed Carlisle's office door that was slightly ajar. She frowned. Normally, Carlisle was very adamant about his office door remaining closed. She peeked inside, looking towards Carlisle's desk. From the door, she could see the painting laying face up on the

oak desk. She zipped to the desk, peering down at the painting that Carlisle had spent many hours with the night before. She eyed the boy with the bright green eyes. It was so odd to see a vampire with a color other than black, red, or gold in their eyes. She saw the happiness on his face, which was weird. She didn't normally associate happiness with the Volturi, but they certainly looked happy. She'd only heard stories about Didyme, but from what she understood, Didyme had had the power to make people happy; kind of a more focused version of Jasper's power. There was a lot of affection between Didyme and Harry, she could already tell. Almost like they were brother and sister. Alice suddenly felt the dense fog engulf her mind. She strained to see through the mist, but it was still so inconsistent. Water… an ocean perhaps? Sounds of loud engines roaring to life and descending upon her… no close to her… frustrated sighs… amused chuckles… something silver and slender… a… laptop? The vision evaded her and she found herself back in Carlisle's study. She sighed. "Well, at least I know someone's getting a laptop soon." "I say, the man up front is extremely quiet." "Talking must not be part of the service then." "Well it seems rude for us to sit here in this awkward manner while he drives us for four hours to wherever we're going." "Mr. Gibbs didn't say we were pressed to converse." "We've been hiding away from society for so long, Harry. I should think at least you would be in the mood for modern conversation. Hello there!" The driver of the sleek black Mercedes turned his head in question. He seemed a little annoyed at how the two men talked about him as if he weren't there. The man turned down the music playing. "Yes, sirs?" "May I ask your name, my boy?" Albus asked cheerily from the back of the car.

"Um… Kevin Burns, sir." "Well, Mr. Burns, what's your favorite color?" "E-excuse me?" The man looked thoroughly confused, and made it no secret that he thought Albus was as insane as his age suggested. "He means, tell him about yourself," Harry amended. "I apologize. He has problems with expressing himself in a way in which people won't think he's barmy." Burns actually chuckled nervously a bit. "I take it by your accent that you're from England, then?" "Indeed. Are you from Washington?" Albus asked, glad to finally get some reaction out of the man who before had seemed to lack a personality. "I'm from New York, actually. I came out here to get away from all the noise." "How wonderful. So this Forks place is quiet, you say?" "Very quiet, sir. It's not much of a thrill for the adventure seekers, but we have plenty of woods and the ocean is not a long drive away. Good cliffs for cliff diving." "Is there really?" Albus asked. "I think he's telling you to go jump off a cliff, Al," Harry laughed. Burns spluttered, but Albus turned a wry smile on Harry. He knew he was joking. "Do you go cliff diving yourself, Mr. Burns?" Albus asked again, giving a stern glare in Harry's direction. "Every once in a while, sir," Burns seemed amused by the discourse between the old man and the boy. Harry smiled at the conversation beginning to bloom. Another example of how Albus charmed humans into talking to him. Harry recalled as a human that was excessively hard to dislike him. It also made it very easy to underestimate him.

Harry had only one vivid memory from his childhood. Albus had taken him to live in a small mud shack close to modern-day France, but back then it was called Gaul. Harry's people were in the midst of a war with Germanic tribes that were threatening to overtake their territory. Albus had been out hunting in forests when the war had spilled into the field where Albus had been raising him. Harry was a little over twelve years old when a soldier had pulled him up by his hair to face him, an iron tool in his hand ready to scalp him. Harry didn't know to which side the soldier belonged, but it didn't matter; he was red with aggression and ready to take Harry's head as a trophy. The rusty blade had slid across his forehead just as Albus flew into the room like an angry tornado, sinking his sharp spidery nails into the back of the soldier and carving out his heart. Harry watched in horror as Albus sunk his teeth into the soldier's neck, sucking him dry so that no even a single drop of blood was wasted. Harry remembered the regretful look on Albus' face as he turned to look at him. The blood stained his lips and his eyes were fiery from his thirst. Harry felt stream of blood slide down his forehead where the knife had cut him. Albus ripped part of his shirt off and wrapped it around Harry's head gently, before looking him in the eyes, wiping the blood off his face but not tasting it. He knew Albus would never hurt him. He absently rubbed the scar that still rested on his forehead. The scar was jagged; its perfect straight trail had been ruptured after Albus had tore the soldier away from him. Some might say it was in the shape of a lightening bolt. He'd grown his bangs out to cover it up. He had a cover story just in case, but he preferred not to talk about it. He'd been sure his life was over that night. "Are you acquainted with the locals?" Harry fell out of his revere when Albus' voice cut into his musings. Looking at the old man now, it was hard to make a connection between the two people that he knew. The Albus that was cheerful and filled with wonder and curious appreciation for the world around him, and the Albus that was a passionate fighter and an even more passionate killer. Harry shook his head fondly. It would be just his luck if one day Albus were diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

"I am sir. You live in a small town, you get to know just about everyone. The sheriff should be by your new place to welcome you within the next few days. He likes to get a feel for what kind of people he has in his town," Burns chuckled. "I see. It seems like a very close-knit sort of place. I think we may have found the right fit, Harry," Harry nodded. A thought popped into his head at that. "Are you acquainted with an Esme Cullen, sir?" Harry asked. He remembered her first name from Mr. Gibbs when he contacted them with the details on their living situation. He wondered if everyone found her appearance off-kilter or if it was just Mr. Gibbs. "Yes. A very kind lady from what I've seen of her. My wife has had her over a few times. Do you know her?" "She designed the house we'll be residing in, isn't that right, Harry?" Of course Albus knew the answer already. Albus gave him an innocent smile when Harry cast him a dry look. "Is that right? She is a very good interior designer. My wife says she hardly ever sees her without a set of blueprints in her hands. I can't imagine where she finds the time though with five children." "Five children?" Harry asked, looking at Albus. Albus frowned as if something in the man's words was puzzling him. "Well, they're adopted. Poor woman. The word is that she's infertile. But she's taken in her niece and nephew, Rosalie and Jasper Hale, and she and her husband adopted the other three." Albus' confused look faded and raised his brow at Harry. "That's certainly very generous," Harry murmured. "Well, no one feels sorry for them that's for sure. I've seen their house and Carlisle Cullen makes more than enough money to satisfy their every need, that's for sure." Carlisle Cullen. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but Harry was having a hard time placing it. He shook it off. It was possible he'd read it or just heard it somewhere.

Albus, however, had narrowed his eyes and his normally clear blue eyes seemed darker in the dim lighting of the car. "What does he do that allows such a large budget?" Burns laughed again. "I'm sorry, but your accent and way of speaking is so… English! You sound so much older than… what are you? Fifteen?" Harry sighed. "Sixteen." "Oh! I'm sorry… you look…" Burns was struggling with words. Harry appreciated his attempt to avoid offending him. "Short? It's okay. I'm still hoping to hit a growth spurt soon." Albus spared an apologetic look as Harry glared at him. One of Harry's only regrets was that Albus changed him before he had the chance to find out if he would get any taller. He supposed he was quite slender for someone his age, but in his defense Albus hadn't been a very good cook when he actually ate food. But one of Harry's blessings was that his father had a very angular face, which gave him a more defined look than most boys his age. "What did you say that man's profession was?" Harry hoped to change the subject to something that would take the amused look off his friend's face. "Oh! He's a doctor. He works at the hospital in town." For some reason, Harry got the feeling that Albus didn't care for the subject in particular. Harry was surprised. Albus rarely fell out of his broad fascination, but Harry detected a dark air around him as he turned his eyes to stare out the window. But Harry was determined to find out more, something that might trigger his memory of the name. "How old are the kids?" "Oh, they're all at the high school. I think the oldest are juniors, and the younger ones are sophomores. My son tells me that they generally stick together though. They don't have many friends. I've heard the local kids talking about them, and apparently they are rather spoiled." "I imagine they can afford to be spoiled, what with their background," Harry quested on.

"Well they should at least attempt to attend school regularly. We don't get a lot of sunny days, but whenever we do, they take it upon themselves to disappear entirely from school. Carlisle and Esme take them on camping and hiking trips whenever they can. Seems like poor parenting to me. A good education should be first priority over trekking through the forests," Burns shrugged noncommittally. "Only when it's sunny, you say?" Albus murmured to the window. Burns shrugged, sensing that the air around the old man was tensing. "Did I say something to upset you sir? I apologize…it's just…" "Nonsense, my boy!" Albus' cheery disposition re-emerged faster than Burns could blink. "I must apologize, I'm rather under the weather after the plane ride," Albus went through Harry's backpack searching for something. After a second he pulled out a plastic bag of what looked like lollipops. Harry smiled in sympathy as Albus popped a blood pop into his mouth. He was getting hungry too. At the end of the day, Carlisle raced home, pushing his Mercedes faster than he normally did. He needed to feed. He knew the boys had already fed, so he would be hunting with the girls that night. He didn't mind it. He needed something more relaxing than watching his over-excited sons fighting over a mountain lion carcass. He pulled into the driveway, weaving through the trees and parking next to Alice's Porsche. Esme greeted him with a kiss as he entered the kitchen. He savored his lovely wife's lips on his, smiling adoringly at her before retreating upstairs to put away his briefcase, and then back downstairs to gather the hunting party. "Anything eventful happen today?" He asked, taking a seat on the overstuffed couch next to Emmett. "You mean besides watching Alice and Edward play chess? That never gets old," Emmett laughed. Esme looked up. "I got a call today from the man that was selling that house I designed a few miles out of town. Apparently he sold it yesterday. They're signing the contracts tomorrow, I believe." "So we've got new neighbors?" Alice frowned. "I haven't seen

anything." "Are you sure you can see the future, Alice? You're visions are getting so unreliable, these days," Emmett teased. "You've been frustrated all day trying to 'see'," He gestured the quotation marks with two fingers. Alice glared and slumped into Jasper's arms, pouting. "It's not my fault. Some people are just indecisive," She grumbled to herself, though everyone could hear her. "That was fast. I didn't even know it was under negotiations. Do you know anything about them?" Carlisle asked. "He didn't mention anything other than it was a younger gentleman that inquired after it. The only name he gave was 'Dumbledore.' It's weird though. Mr. Gibbs said they didn't even need to look at photographs before they took it. All Gibbs did was to provide them with a general description and they were sold. They settled on the list price and asked that it be made ready for them. They were supposed to fly in sometime today." "Dumbledore? Now that's a name," Emmett crowed. Carlisle nodded. Esme seemed pleased with the turn of events, and he was happy for her. He placed a sweet kiss on her lips. He turned back to Alice who seemed to be in a heated staring contest with Emmett. He was smirking wickedly at her and Carlisle could tell he was teasing her, albeit silently. "I'm at least getting glimpses of things! I'm not completely useless! But they're nothing I can make sense of. Earlier, I saw water… like an ocean, and trees. Wherever they are, or wherever they're going, it's got lots of nature," But that was nothing special. Any vampire that didn't drink human blood had to make sure he was near a place with plentiful wildlife. That was useless. "I saw a laptop, so they're up to date on the modern technology," She added with a slight hopeful raise of her voice. Carlisle smiled affectionately at her. "I appreciate you trying, but I suppose it doesn't matter either way, if you see them or not." Esme looked at him sympathetically. "What would you do if she finally

did see them?" Carlisle shrugged. He had to admit that he hadn't planned that far ahead. Talking to them seemed like the right thing to do, but what would he say? He doubted that they'd even remember him anyway. He'd been a seemingly heartless human bent on exacting justice upon innocent people when they knew him. Harry might remember him, for Carlisle had gone stiff in his boots at the dark look that they had exchanged moments before he was hanged. Albus, however, he wasn't so sure of. Would he be angry that he had followed ordered to take his 'grandson' who had been but a child when he was accused? Albus had seemed calm the day of his 'death', but Carlisle was sure that there was an underlying power that simmered just beneath the surface of those haunting blue eyes. The Volturi had told him that the two vampires were fiercely protective of each other, having been together for longer than another other duo in history. Carlisle wondered if anyone could help wanting a chance to know exactly what eternity felt like. If anyone did know, it would be those two. Rosalie descended down the stairs in a regal fashion, as if she were watching her own long legs in some sort of a mind-mirror. "Are we going then?" She asked as she reached the bottom. Alice threw on a coat for whatever reason, and started towards the back door. "Hope find something better than a deer tonight. I'm craving something a little spicier. Suppose we find a bear that likes Mexican food?" Carlisle and Esme chuckled at their youngest girl as she disappeared out the back door, followed by Rosalie. Emmett and Jasper called their goodbyes. They skipped over the creek and flew into the cover of the trees, racing each other for the first pick of the night. "I do appreciate your company, Mr. Burns. I hope my ramblings haven't deterred you from coming by from time to time. I suppose I haven't a hope of finding some friends my own age around here," Albus thanked Burns for helping to carry their things into the spacious lobby of their new house. It was more like a modern mansion, if one could call it that. The

outside was a cream colored stucco that extended over the entire from of the three-story house. It was accentuated with very earthy maple shutters and a three-car garage. The inside was covered in beautiful dark hardwood floors with a grand staircase that curved unto the landings of the second and third floors. It came richly furnished as well with plush cream-colored sofas, stained oak tables, and even a large television that Albus couldn't wait to use. "Are you sure you don't need anymore help, Albus? I'm sure I can stick around a little while longer to help you get settled. I'd hate for you to carry all that heavy baggage by yourself." "Oh, I'm sure we'll be fine. We managed to carry it to the thousands of terminals in Osaka International," Albus chuckled, eyes twinkling. Truth be told, he had received a lot of odd looks from crowds. A 90year-old man carrying two suitcases through the airport was truly a sight to be seen. Harry intervened. "Besides, with the size of this place, it'll take him at least an hour or two to figure out where he wants the bags anyway. He's very picky about his living quarters," Harry laughed, hugging Albus to his side. Burns laughed, astounded by the affection between the two. Normally teenagers were consumed in never-ending exasperation with their grandparents, but there was no love lost between these two. Burns imagined it must be hard for young Harry to take care of his grandfather, so it definitely helped that they seemed to get along well. "I certainly will give you call later on in the week to see how things are getting on. Who knows, maybe I can convince my editor to do a story on you." They had learned during their conversations with Kevin Burns that he was only a driver as a way to make extra cash. He was a writer at the daily newspaper, and as such knew a lot about everything that happened in Forks. Albus smiled, wrinkling the corners of his eyes. "I'd be glad to relinquish anything you'd find interesting, my boy." Burns nodded with a gracious smile, and left.

"When's this Mr. Gibbs supposed to arrive, then?" Albus asked, turning a keen eye to the woods on the other side of the big property. It was very spacious, with something like a courtyard behind the house leaving about an acre or two before coming to an abrupt stop at the forest edge. "Tomorrow morning, bright and early," Harry said, following his gaze. The emptiness in their stomachs was suddenly all they could think about, and after they had made sure that there were no on-lookers within a mile's radius of them, they tore off across the courtyard and disappeared into the trees. Albus flew through the trees, his long white hair billowing like a cape behind him, and his strong arms pumping at his sides, his eyes turning into pit-less black orbs. Harry was slightly behind him, not quite as fast as the older man. Their feet hardly made impact on the ground before they were up again, pushing them faster through the forest, leaving only ghosts of footprints on the soft floor. Their eyes were trained on the kill, and their ears alert for any movement apart from their own. Albus skid to a stop suddenly, and Harry slid into a crouch beside him, listening intently. It was a pack... spotted dear, it sounded like. Albus' crooked nose twitched, and then took off in the direction of the sound. Harry shifted slightly to the right of his path. He sensed a bigger buck slightly apart from the group. Albus burst into the clearing, and the deer scrambled to get away, but Albus was too quick. He sprung, his hair flying around him like angel wings, his sharp white teeth bared in a snarl, his fingers ready to grab his prey. He fastened his teeth into one of the bigger males, his canines sinking into the hairy pelt. Harry wasn't far away, draining another buck before laying him to the ground, and taking off as another sound reached his ears. Albus and Harry ravaged through the forest, deeper and deeper, bent on satisfying the thirst that had been building for almost a week. Harry had just finished with a rather appetizing mountain lion when Albus stilled beside him. He froze, sensing what had Albus suddenly on the alert. Something bigger was coming, moving quickly. It wasn't consistent with an animal. It sounded… human. But they were

moving much too fast to only be human. "Vampires," Albus murmured. Harry looked up at him. "Perhaps it's the Cullens?" Harry asked. "With the description Burns gave us, it seems probable." Albus narrowed his eyes, his eyes boring into the dark abyss of trees. "They're close." "They'd hear us if we tried to run for it now," Harry heard the subtle snapping of twigs and crunching of leaves on the floor. "They're relatively young." His mentor quieted him. "Just wait…" Alice and Rosalie raced after a mountain lion as it made a futile attempt to escape. They'd gone a little further north than they had planned, but the pick was better the further out they went. Carlisle had already drank his fill from a herd of deer they'd passed about an hour ago, and Esme was sated after her own expedition. They'd just been ready to call it quits when Alice suddenly stopped, her eyes widening. Rosalie didn't notice and continued chasing the lion, eventually taking it down as she jumped onto it's back and sunk her teeth into its neck. Carlisle and Esme came to Alice's side. "What is it?" Esme asked, a little worried from Alice's strained expression. Alice didn't answer. She was struggling to see through the thick fog in her head. Trees… trees… She scrunched her face in an attempt to increase her concentration. "Alice?" Rosalie asked, walking closer after she realize that Alice was no longer at her side. "Carlisle?" She asked, wondering what could be causing Alice's stress. But Carlisle had been distracted. He gotten the feeling shortly after stopping that there was something watching them. His eyes flickered around the group, trying to sense any movement, but there was nothing. No heartbeat, no puffs of breath, nothing. But still he could

feel a gaze boring into the back of his head. He waited for a second, and then snapped his head around. He sucked in breath as he thought… did he see… Albus? He couldn't be sure. All he knew was that as soon as he turned, he saw a pair of intense blue eyes… so familiar… before it disappeared entirely, leaving him to wonder if he had really seen it at all. He looked around, but the woods were empty. But he had felt the eyes. Whoever had seen him had been looking very intently, and remembered the familiar feeling of eyes searching through his skin and into his soul. But those eyes had come from Albus' companion, and it certain hadn't been Harry's eyes that flashed before him as he turned. "Carlisle!" He turned to look at Alice, and she was looking at him with an almost knowing look on her face. "Mr. Gibbs…" Carlisle frowned. "What about him?" Alice's smile turned suddenly triumphant. "I saw Harry talking to Mr. Gibbs." Albus and Harry watched from afar, well hidden behind a thorny hedge, not speaking a word. They watched in fascination as Alice seemed to describe their future with Mr. Gibbs. Signing the papers, talking about the town. It wasn't much, and not all that concerning, but Harry felt thoroughly invaded. 'She's a seer.' He realized. Albus leaned forward a bit as the blonde man started talking. Harry couldn't see the man's face as his back had turned to him. Harry had backed into the brush before Albus. 'The man's curiosity is almost damning,' Harry thought, and almost attacked as the blonde man's head turned swiftly back as if to stare Albus straight in the face. Albus had moved in time, but the shock on the man's face almost suggested that he had seen him anyway.

The man spoke in quick hushed tones and Harry heard him say that they should continue the conversation back at their home. 'So he knows something is watching him. He's not as young as the others.' Harry thought. He turned to Albus, almost expecting him to be watching the man with the narrowed eyes he'd used when talking about him earlier. But it was no longer scrutiny that shadowed his face. It was now dominated by a knowing smile, and he regarded the four vampires almost… fondly? Harry caught his eye, and Albus's once again clear blue eyes twinkled. Harry groaned. 'I hate it when he knows something I don't.' Edward walked softly down the hall, hoping not to draw his brother's attention as he padded towards Carlisle's office. He couldn't explain the need to see the painting again. His curiosity over the duo was almost enough to rival Carlisle's, or so he thought. The pair of glowing green eyes seemed embedded in his head, and though Carlisle had mentioned his own feelings about the pair, Edward couldn't help but feel something more. He didn't exactly understand it, but he had at least narrowed his urges down to one single thought. He wanted something from the green-eyed boy. It was a feeling he had never felt before. He had only seen the few memories that Carlisle had of him, and the memories of his talks with the Volturi about Harry, but somehow, he felt that he needed to know him. It could be compared to how a school-girl needed to meet or at least be acknowledged by a popular boy that she saw everywhere but had never had the guts to talk to. Edward scowled at the comparison, but he couldn't deny the truthfulness of it. He slipped through the door and stared into the painting. However many times he saw the painting over the last twenty-four hours, he couldn't resist touching it, running his hand down Harry's laughing face. He knew Alice had spent almost the entire day looking for clues to their whereabouts, but hadn't come up with anything. He grew quite frustrated at his normally efficient sister, and secluded himself in his room, turning his stereo up high, hoping to stop himself from

thinking about Harry. He didn't know when he had been able to drown out the images in his head; his own imaginings of what the real Harry and Albus would be like, but before he knew it, he was being called downstairs. As soon as he heard Alice's thoughts, he all but broke through the floor to avoid the longer run of halls and stairs that separated her from him. He saw Alice dancing triumphantly in front of Emmett as if she had just won something. Edward didn't care, all he needed was more information. He scanned through her head and almost became frustrated when she just wasn't thinking fast enough. "Albus Dumbledore," She announced. "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore." "Does he introduce himself like that?" Emmett winced as Edward accompanied himself and Carlisle on the couch. Esme took a spot on the armrest and held Carlisle's hand in her own. Jasper was looking amusedly from his spot on chair across from them. "He's the one that bought Esme's house, and he's the one that will be signing the contract tomorrow," Alice gushed. "Carlisle! We just found the painting the other day and he's HERE!" Carlisle had been blown away by it as well. It was like some kind of divine providence, to quote Aro, that had brought Albus and Harry to Washington at the same time that he rediscovered them. "What of the boy?" Esme asked, and Edward leaned forward, oh so slightly. Alice faltered. "Well… I haven't seen much of him, but I know that he's living with Albus under the cover of grandfather and grandson, and he likes books." It was true, she had seen Harry with a rather extensive book collection. Edward was barely restraining himself from getting in his car and driving over there, if only to get a glimpse of the pair. Alice seemed to sense his agitation, because she shot him a quizzical look. 'What's wrong?'

He shook his head. He couldn't even explain it to himself. 'I'm sorry Edward, but their future is so uncertain that it's hard to get a clear picture. Why do you care so much?' Edward shrugged a little, not enough for anyone to notice. "Do you know if Albus intends to enroll him in the high school?" Esme asked. "I don't know. I think Harry and all I see are books," Alice groaned, upset that her temporary victory was already being criticized. Edward surveyed the thoughts of his family. 'I do hope he enrolls him in school. It'll be quite the scandal if he doesn't. I wonder if Harry's ever attended school before?' Esme had already assumed her matronly banter over Harry's proper upbringing. Edward snorted. With seven-thousand-year-old boy, he couldn't imagine there was any more intellectual growth to be had. 'Just so long as they stay out of our way. I won't tolerate moving again just because some ancient vampires are playing house only a half-hour away.' Rosalie, of course. 'Wonder how being seven-thousand-years-old can affect your baseball swing?' Emmett. 'Can't imagine seeing more horrors that I already have. What must they have seen, being in the world for that long?' Jasper. 'Why can't I see them anymore? It's the same thing over and over again. What are they DOING?' Alice. 'After all these years of searching, they all but come knocking at my door. What can I say to them? Do they remember what I did to them? I can't imagine it being too much of an upset for them but it means something to me. Why did Harry look at me like that? Why…' Carlisle's thoughts seemed to be a never-ending stream of questions. Edward flinched when he saw the memory replayed in Carlisle's head. The sudden blackness of Harry's eyes. 'Who are you?' Edward whipped his head around towards the voice. It was distant,

like it was coming from outside. He raced to the window to look, scanning the grassy expanse of the back yard and into the trees. Nothing. It didn't matter. He knew who it was. He'd imagined what the voice would sound like over and over again in his head. He knew he'd followed his family back to the house to find out what they knew. He just wanted a glimpse. Harry. Harry had followed the group back to their house. Albus had only smiled indulgently at his young friend before declaring he would call it a night. Harry thought in the back of his mind that Albus just wanted to claim the best room before Harry could take a look around. He might have been half right. But as he peered into the living room where the large family had convened, he noticed the disparaging youth that sat beside the largest male in the room. He was younger, probably only a year or two older than Harry was. He looked impatient and frustrated. But as Harry looked closer at the boy, he noticed something peculiar. He caught the looks that were being exchanged between the seer and the boy. It almost as if they were communicating nonverbally. He zoned in on the boy, and caught the subtle gestures he was making, apparently in response to any questions the thin pixie-like girl was asking. 'A mind-reader?' Harry crept closer, observing the boy as he looked around the room, scrutinizing each of them, one at a time. What a family full of special talents, Harry thought. 'Who are you?' He wondered in his head. Suddenly, the boy's head whipped around, and Harry barely managed to conceal himself to the side of the window. Had he heard him? Harry bolted to the right as he felt what was coming. Sure enough, the boy had come to the window milliseconds after Harry fled, staring intently at his path of departure. Harry flew through the woods, impossible shaken as he hadn't been in centuries. He hadn't felt so vulnerable since he had been human, and that was saying something with someone like Albus around.

Harry couldn't help but wonder if it had been a good idea to come to Forks. Alice's eyes glazed over, and an image presented itself in her mind. The second she saw it, Edward turned his head, shock written on his face. "Oh Edward…" Alice sighed happily.

Two: Somewhere far along this road, he lost his soul Edward was growing agitated with the wistful looks that Alice had been sending him the rest of the night. The rest of the family had bombarded Alice about her sudden outburst. Jasper was the only one that seemed to have the slightest idea of what was going on, since he sensed the confusion, shock, and slightest bit of hope that radiated off of Edward, and the absolute happiness and excitement that came from Alice. "Will someone please fill in the blanks? Not all of us are mind readers, here! We need verbal information and occasionally some hand gestures," Emmett boomed the next day, once again angry that he was being left out of the circle of understanding between Edward, Alice, and Jasper. "It should be obvious, Em," Jasper laughed. "Alice saw something about the two that concerns Edward. And whatever it is… it's good," He looked for clarification from Alice, and she nodded, still with the unnerving smile stretched across her angelic face. Edward grumbled from his seat on the stairs. He couldn't stand being so close to his family when all their thoughts were focused solely on the one thing that had shaken him so badly. "Edward, we can't help you unless you give Alice permission to speak again," Carlisle assured him. It had become obvious that Edward had lost his ability to speak, and consequently had shot Alice a look that forbid her to say anything on the subject until he was able to come to grips with it. Edward looked at Alice, and it seemed like she was putting in an honest effort to keep her mouth closed.

'Two bodies, hard as marble, pressing together. White clawed hands scraping down a clothed muscled back and back up to bury themselves in soft bronze hair. Eyelashes fluttering against sharp and defined cheekbones, opening to reveal hooded dark green eyes, boring lustfully into him…' Edward buried his hands in his hair and pulled, trying to control the tingling in his body. This wasn't the time for such thoughts. They were only that. Alice's visions were so subjective, and especially unreliable when it came to Albus and Harry. He didn't dare trust them at this point. But why, oh why, did she have to see that? He sighed, and took off upstairs to grab the painting from Carlisle's office. Carlisle sighed. His normally quite and private office seemed have turned into the main traffic hub over the last day and a half. Edward was back downstairs a second later, holding the painting and pouring over it again. Emmett scoffed and went to Edward's side, grabbing the painting from him. He peered into their faces. "Is this them?" He asked. He scrutinized Albus and Harry, not seeing anything particularly special about them. "Are they related? From the way you were talking, I thought they were the same age, not fifteen and a hundred!" Jasper and Esme went to his side to peer into the painting, and Rosalie, now the only one that hadn't seen it, scowled at all the attention it was getting. "They're not related. Albus took Harry in when he was an infant. They've been together ever since," Carlisle explained to them, once again, everything he knew about the pair. Jasper's eyes narrowed. He tilted to head, and a look akin to recognition crossed is face. His lips parted slightly as he concentrated on to where he might have seen them before. Edward's eyes snapped to him. "Jasper?" Jasper raised his head in question. "What was that?" Edward asked, confused about what he had just seen.

Jasper frowned, staring at Edward. 'I think I remember them…' It was clear to Edward that Jasper remembered them. As he thought an image came to the surface of his mind. 'A red horizon had built over the clearing, and the village was drenched with blood. Bloodthirsty newborns ran amuck, biting anything and everything in their path. Immortal children sat atop piles of dead humans, their angelic faces and bloodstained lips peering hungrily into the screaming crowds. Jasper watched apart from the scene with growing horror at the mass killing, barely containing his own lust. He felt something coming, and didn't want to be around when it happened. But over the horizon, apart from the lust, madness, anger, horror and carnage, he felt something else. It was… dare he say… indifference? He searched for the source of the emotions, wondering how on earth someone could look upon this and not feel anything for it. His eyes finally laid upon a pair standing on a distant hill, just where the forest cut into the plane where the village was situated. From a distance, he could make out an old white haired man, standing taller and stronger than his age could possibly afford, with his arms crossed before him. At his feet, with his arms resting on his knees, sat a boy. Jasper couldn't give a correct age because of the distance, but he was young, with black hair, staring equally unfeeling into the chaos. It wasn't long before the Volturi showed up, destroying the immortal children in their midst as well as the ones responsible for their creation. It would be only one stop on their crusade to dispose of every child they were aware of, and large bonfires erupted in the field as they tore the children and their creators apart and then throwing them into the fires. Jasper felt regret at the fear in the children's eyes as the Volturi guard grabbed them. Still, there was no emotion coming from the pair on the hill. But when Jasper was able to tear his gaze away from the scene, they were gone, leaving no sign of their presence to be found.' "I thought they were vigilantes for a moment. Then I thought maybe they were part of the Volturi as well, looking to make sure no one escaped. But they didn't feel anything. They were almost emotionless

the entire time," Jasper explained. Carlisle was shocked at the coincidence that Jasper had run across the elusive duo, but it shocked him more that they had been around when the immortal children had been destroyed when the Volturi had said they hadn't seen them in centuries. Carlisle voiced his question. "They weren't with the Volturi. That much I know. The Volturi didn't even seem to see them. The only reason I even noticed them was because their mood stood out," Jasper seemed troubled. "What kind of people can look at that kind of carnage and not feel anything? I know they were immortal children, but they were still children." "The kind that has seen it happen before," Carlisle answered. "I imagine they've seen it happen time and again throughout the years." "Does time make you emotionless?" Jasper seemed unnerved. He stared through his fringe at Carlisle. "No, but it does make you more able to detach from the situation. The Volturi described them as from the world but not of it. They are ageless observers. They are able to move through the course of time without making a mark on it." "Sounds like they just don't care," Jasper grumbled. Alice rubbed his back soothingly. "Maybe we should wait until we meet them to start drawing conclusions," She said. "Shoot. They sound like pieces of work, to me," Emmett announced, wrapping his arm around Rosalie as he took a seat next to her. "You say the old one is happy and carefree and then you say he has no feelings." Esme smiled affectionately at him. "I hardly think we are to judge. They've lived longer than anyone could think possible. I imagine if anyone was entitled to have complicated opinions on something, it would be them." "Don't you think it's a little ostentatious?" "Not at all. Why?"

"Oh I dunno. I just thought maybe you'd want something that wouldn't cause everyone in town to start talking. 'Oh look! There's that crazy old man going 150 MPH in that brand new yellow Ferrari.' Why can't you find a car that won't draw so much attention?" "Harry, the last time I drove a car these kinds of features weren't available. If I'd had the option back then, then you can't expect me to not take advantage of every opportunity afforded to me?" Harry groaned into the phone as Albus flipped through a catalog containing all the different cars their contact could offer them. He had barely talked him out of buying one car that wasn't even supposed to be on the market yet. Harry continued the conversation to the man on the phone, listening to any suggestions for his friend, before turning to Albus again as the man ogled another over-the-top car that made Harry cringe. "Albus," He started slowly, as if talking to a child, "I'm putting down an order for a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. He tells me that it's top of the line, suitable for your age, and won't make everyone think you're having an end-life crisis." "I didn't see that one…" Albus flipped through the book again, frowning. He peered at it once he found it with a slightly disappointed look on his face. "He says that there is an option to put sparkly lights on the ceiling so it looks like thousands of stairs while you're driving." Albus perked up. "Is that so... but be sure to include the iPod hook up. It's very important…" "Yes, Al," Harry assured him. Albus pressed his lips together. "What is your pick, then?" He asked grudgingly. "BMW." Albus raised a brow. "I will never know where I went wrong in raising you, but it seems I neglected to instill an ability to have… how do you say… fun earlier in life." "That's not true," Harry rebuffed half-heartedly.

Albus shrugged, turning back to flipping through his catalog. He didn't need to push Harry any farther. He knew he had him. Harry blew air through his teeth, a sour smile stretching across his face. "Make that a Bugatti Veyron 16.4, silver. Throw in any fancy gadgets you can get a hold of." Albus gave him a knowing smile when he hung up. "And you call me ostentatious." Harry tsked. "Ah no! You can't take it back now. It's done. They're being shipped here in three days." "Three days, you say?" Albus brooded. Harry cast him a suspicious look. Albus smirked. "I suppose you're excited about going to school again? It's been far too long since I've had to enroll you in a high school." Harry rolled his eyes. One thing he hated above all else was school. The staring was bad enough, but feigning ignorance of several subjects was the most annoying of all. One thing that he had to admit intrigued him a bit was attending school with the Cullen kids. He would have a better time fitting in, since he didn't have to skip school for every sunny day. He was unsure about his own feelings pertaining to the powers of the Cullens though. One was a seer, one read minds, what if the others had powers as well? He hadn't stuck around long enough to find out about any of the others, as he had been distracted by one in particular… But he needed to find out more about the older blonde man. Carlisle Cullen. The man knew him; that much was certain. When the seer first had a vision of him, she had immediately alerted Carlisle to it, and when they were at the house, she mentioned that they had something… perhaps something that belonged to him. A painting… He related to Albus what he had heard the night before, but the old man had seemed unconcerned. In fact, he almost seemed smug. Harry realized that this must seem like some sort of spectacular mystery novel in which he was the mystery and everyone else was trying to figure him out. The man's immaturity on the issue was almost daunting, but he had never underestimated the severity of a situation before, so Harry had no choice but to trust him.

They had done such a good job in the past of keeping a low profile. There were a select few in the world that even knew of their existence. It bothered Harry that someone who was not in that particular pool knew about them… was educated about them. The only people that knew them well enough to provide information on them were the Volturi. Harry rolled his eyes when he thought of Aro. If Harry hadn't known him for ages, before he became obsessed with power, regulations, and his collection of freaks, he doubted that they would be friends. But since Harry's age far out-lasted Aro's, Aro gave him a fair amount of respect. It was no secret that Aro was fond of both Harry and Albus. But they lived a far too low-profile life for them. Aro and Caius thrived when they knew the attention was on them, fearing them. While Harry had thought that Aro and Caius were amusing, he saved most of his affection for Marcus and his wife, Didyme, Aro's younger sister. Harry felt more sorrow in his dead heart than he believed he ever had in his life when he learned of Didyme's death. He had a particular connection to her that he never could explain. He had confided in Albus that Didyme reminded him of someone. When Albus asked who, Harry had told him that it was someone he had never met, but missed terribly anyway. He didn't know if he made any sense, but Albus had nodded as if he understood. When she died, he fell into the deepest depression. Marcus and Didyme had contemplated leaving the Volturi guard with Albus and Harry the next they came to visit, and had told them so. Marcus only related to Harry that they had grown disenchanted with Aro's never-ending quest for power. Albus consented, and Aro gave them his blessing. However, a little over a week before they arrived, Didyme was murdered. Albus had offered to let Marcus come with them in the wake of her death, but Marcus suddenly felt such a connection and responsibility to the Volturi guard that he hadn't had before, causing him to decline. Harry knew enough of Aro's nature to realize that Aro had gotten Chelsea to make him stay. It was only after they left again that Harry realized that Aro had ordered his own sister's death. Marcus leaving the guard would deprive Aro of one of his 'pets', and that was something he wouldn't stand for. And while Harry knew that Aro loved his sister dearly, his own carnal lust for absolution was too much to deny.

Harry had flown into a rage when he realized what his 'friend' had done, but Albus kept him from acting. "Aro will reap the consequences of his lust for power, Harry. He'll live to regret it," He said. That hadn't been good enough for Harry, but he placed his own opinions aside. It wasn't the time. Not with Marcus so lost in his despair. They hadn't contacted the Volturi in over five centuries. Whether or not Aro knew of the reason remained a mystery. All Harry knew was that his love for Didyme ten times outweighed his fondness of Aro. He did, however, have one regret in that regard. That was that Marcus was still unaware of how his love had died. "Do you suppose the Volturi said something to Cullen?" Harry asked, turning his attention back to Albus, who had been waiting for a reaction on his school comment. Albus pursed his thin lips. "It's possible. With the talents that his family seems to possess it seems a definite possibility that they caught Aro's interest." Harry frowned. Carlisle was the only one that seemed to actually know something about them. Perhaps he had gone to the Volturi alone, but Harry knew that Carlisle was a great deal older than the others. "There is nothing to be worried about, Harry. I seriously doubt they mean any harm. If anything, they are merely obsessively curious," Albus smiled. "Leave it alone, and help me with the mystery of this plasma screen," Albus once again sounded out the words. Harry laughed and began working on the television set. The next few days were business as usual for the Cullens. Carlisle woke up for work in the mornings, and Esme resumed her normal procedure of pouring over blueprints and keeping Emmett and Jasper from tearing their heads off. Rose shopped and hunted, and criticized everyone about just about everything. Alice kept trying to see what Albus and Harry were doing, other than avoiding them and keeping their plans constantly changing.

Edward remained tortured. He felt that any kind of physical pain would be better than the mental. It seemed he had inherited Carlisle's obsession. Wherever he turned, there was a pair of sparkling green eyes staring right back at him. The only one in the house that seemed to have any opinion other than obsession and indifference was Jasper. Jasper's experience with people taught him that even vampires felt something for the loss of life, or the horror of murder. It had been a war, and even vampires felt something for it. It irked him that Albus and Harry could be so… heartless. Edward wondered if Jasper would be a problem in the rest of the family's quest to get to know more about them. Jasper was normally very tolerant of other people. It seemed almost like a very cruel twist of fate that Edward had seen Alice's vision… his stomach twisted… and then seen Jaspers memory. It irked him a little, hearing Jaspers thoughts on Harry, but then he realized he was just being stupid. No one knew them personally. There was nothing to dissuade Jasper from thinking the worst of them. Two beings that lived in the world, but didn't participate in it. Edward flashed back to Carlisle's last memory of Harry. A noose tightening around the slender neck, and Harry staring directly into Carlisle's eyes seconds before he feigned his own neck breaking. Perhaps there was a good reason for them not to care. Perhaps they'd seen to much of the world to want to be in it anymore. Edward had a thought flash across his mind. He almost pushed it away, but he realized that it might be legitimate to more than himself. He wondered why Harry and Albus remained alone? Albus was more explainable, but there had to have been someone for Harry in the past. 7,000 years is a hell of a long time to be alone. And the change had frozen Harry in the body of a hormonal teenager. Surely that was having some affect on him. Edward realized that he had never felt a particular pull to anyone, but he was barely a hundred years old. He couldn't imagine seven thousand. Alice's vision flashed in his head again. Could it be? Could it be that

perhaps Harry had been waiting for him? He couldn't suppress a scowl at how obscenely romantic that sounded, but he couldn't find any other way of describing it. Carlisle had waited over two hundred years to find Esme. Seven thousand years… Harry frowned as he heard a knock on the door. He was sitting in his library, which he had recently received his collection shipment from Osaka the other day, brooding over the newspaper again. He figured that it was best to get up to date on the happenings to avoid sounding like an idiot among his peers. He sent most of the day flipping through it. Global warming, twin towers falling, war in the Middle East, dramatic changes in the weather… 'Good Lord, the world's coming to an end,' He had chuckled. Other things that had caught his attention as well were Bluetooth and TiVo. He had ended up having to look up half the things he read in the newspaper in a modern encyclopedia, and then he learned that encyclopedias were things of the past, and now 'Wikipedia' was the thing to use. 'Looks like Albus is going to get that laptop he's been wanting,' He had grumbled. He heard Albus zip towards the door, and then swinging it open. He heard greetings being exchanged downstairs, and thought it best to help Albus with any locals that might have decided to drop by. He descended the stairs to see a man in a chief's uniform smiling as Albus led him into the living room, asking him to take a seat. "I just wanted to introduce myself and see how you were settling," The man said as he settled onto the plush couch as Harry reached the bottom of the stairs, walking slowly forward, his nose twitching slightly. "Ah! Harry!" Albus called cheerily as if he had only just noticed him there. Harry knew Albus heard him the second he had gotten out of his chair in the library. "Chief Swan, this is my grandson, Harry Potter," Chief Swan stood to take Harry's hand. "Charlie, please. Good to meet you, Harry. How are you liking Forks, so far?" Harry smiled. "It's a big change from the city, but I'm enjoying the lack of noise."

Charlie laughed. "That's for sure. Anything you're used to in the city, be prepared for the exact opposite here," Harry took a seat on the armrest opposite the man. "If I may ask, what brings you to Forks?" "Change of scenery, m'boy," Albus answered. "Harry here needs a proper place to continue his education and I'm getting on in my years, and a man my age needs his sleep." "I do hear that. Where are you from?" "We're originally from England." "Ah. Should've figured," Charlie chuckled. "And how old are you, Harry?" "Sixteen," Harry answered, sighing. "So you'll be a… sophomore?" "Unfortunately Harry has one of those birth dates that the school systems are never quite sure of, but I think they'll agree that Harry has the knowledge to place as a sophomore, yes," Albus explained. "That so? Well you should meet my Bella. She'll been living in Phoenix with her mom for most of her life, but she'll be coming to live with me in the next few days. I should introduce you, as two newcomers to the town and all that," Charlie proposed. Harry nodded. "I should be happy to make her acquaintance." Charlie whistled. "Is this the way you always talk, or are you just being polite?" Harry frowned. "I don't mean to be rude or anything, but you talk like you're from one of Bella's old novels." Harry chuckled. "Sorry. We're I was brought up, that was the normal way to speak." "Not to insult you or anything. It's a nice change from all the cussing, slurring, and mumbling that teenagers around here do." "Hmmm…." Harry sighed. It appeared he'd have to dumb himself down in more ways than one. "Well, when does Bella arrive then?" Albus asked.

"The day after tomorrow," Charlie smiled, as though he were thoroughly pleased by the turn of events. "You're very fond of her, are you?" Albus inquired again, smiling softly. "Unfortunately, I haven't been able to spend as much time with her as I'd like. I don't get kids, very well, and I'm afraid she cares more for her mother," Charlie sighed, and Harry felt a pang of sympathy for the man. He seemed like a likeable fellow. Another thing about living in a small town, Harry thought, was that you were basically required to socialize at least a little. Charlie seemed to snap out of his own thoughts, couching slightly. Harry got the impression he wasn't used to expressing his 'feelings' in public. "That's some TV you got there." Harry blinked. "Good Lord! How do you work that thing?" He bellowed, and Charlie nearly jumped a foot in the air. "It has six different remotes and not one turns the blasted thing on!" Charlie looked at Albus with a nervous look on his face, before chuckling. "Let's see here…" "Harry's gonna be at school," Alice announced. The entire group had convened once again in the living room. The only ones missing were Carlisle and Esme. Carlisle was at work and Esme had gone into town for some drawing supplies. Edward breathed. She patted his shoulder sympathetically. Rosalie scowled again. "I really don't understand what all the fuss is about. Can't we just get off that subject? It has nothing whatsoever to do with us," She vented. Edward scowled at her. "That's not a hundred percent true…" Alice trailed off as Edward turned his scowl upon her. She pouted. Then she perked up. "That's not all! He's shopping today. His car came in today, you're going to be jealous, and he and Albus are going shopping in Port Angeles in precisely… two hours and twelve minutes." "Good girl, Alice! Have you been practicing?" Emmett laughed.

"I thought it would be a good time to get a feel for who they really are! Especially Albus. He seems like such a funny old man," Alice giggled. Rosalie raised a brow at her. "Well, I'm all for shopping. I suppose I can come with you," Edward groaned, and Rose glared. "Easy now… can't we all just get along?" Emmett whined. Albus' brand new and sleek Phantom screeched to a halt in front of the Port Angeles Landing Mall. Harry had pointed out a parking spot at the end of the lot in which no cars were parked and as such, there was little chance they would crash into one. Harry blinked, looking pensive for a moment, before turning to the driver. "That wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." "I'm very well capable to driving a car. Even if it is an automatic," Albus announced cheerfully as he opened the car door. "And those lights are delightful. They should have thought of it sooner." Harry had been worried about Albus driving without at least having a bit of practice. Their friend Craig, who had flown in with some of their essentials earlier that day, and apparently had the same thought. "When was the last time you drove a car, Albus?" H ehad asked. He had driven Harry and Albus to the car lot himself while his men brought the cars off the trucks. Harry smiled as he saw his Bugatti for the first time, and Albus seemed pleased with the Rolls-Royce, more so than he had been with the picture. Craig Hoyle was a vampire, and one of their friends that proved very helpful in the past hundred years when they wished to move about as freely as possible. They hadn't a need for cars and money in Osaka, staying in a paid-off house on the edge of the city, one of the few places where there was sustainable wildlife. "I do believe it was the fall of 1953. I do miss that old Chevrolet. I was so happy when they finally added windows, now look what they have to offer!" Albus gestured to the Phantom that had been driven off the rack and stopped in front of him. Craig looked nervous all of a sudden. "You know… it might be beneficial to attend some driving classes. I'm sure you have a DMV

close by?" "Nonsense. I'm well-equipped to handle a car, I've had no trouble in the past." "Ever handled an automatic?" "I beg your pardon?" Craig rolled his eyes. "You're insistence on periodic dormancy does come with a few complications when you try to integrate yourselves once again." "Well then perhaps you can give us a brief lesson? I'm sure the manual will clear up anything else we have questions about and we've got plenty of property to practice around," Harry smiled, ready to give the Bugatti a practice test. "How fast does it go again?" "Should I remind you that you're in America now, and Americans drive on the right side of the road and steer on the left." Harry smiled. "We've got all the time in the world, my friend." It hadn't taken that long, and Craig had expressed his apologies for not being able to socialize longer, but he had another appointment in Greenland. He had handed Harry a manila envelope that contained their new Visas, updated driver's licenses, keys, and birth certificates before bidding them goodbye. Albus insisted on driving for practice while the hired help drove the Bugatti back to the house. Harry suggested driving towards the mall that he had acquired directions to from Charlie almost three days ago. He'd been meaning to pick up a computer for Albus and himself. In the car Harry had pulled out the Black Visas. He'd read that most people used credit cards now instead of personal checks. He pocketed the Visas and driver's licenses before stuffing the rest in the glove box. As they walked towards the mall, Harry noticed that their car kind of stood out. The rest of the cars seemed older, dirty, and some had the paint peeling off of them. He shook his head. The worst thing that could happen would people would start noticing that they were well off, which wasn't so bad.

They checked a map of the mall before heading in the direction of one of Albus' new favorite stores. The Apple Store. The female shop assistants had all but tripped over themselves as they entered, wanting to help the beautiful boy and the graceful old man. It didn't seem to matter to them that Harry might have been at least over five years their junior. Harry made a purchase of two laptops, and an oddlooking phone that Albus fell in love with. The assistant's eyes widened comically as Harry flashed the black Visa card at her, and he didn't miss her whispering excitedly to her fellow workers as he dragged Albus to the door. He frowned, wondering what that was about. About halfway through their shopping excursion, Harry began to realize they were being watched. Not by the usual crowd of awed humans. His skin was prickling in alert, and in his mind's eye, he saw the small pixie-like girl standing on the other side of the landing, carefully concealed behind a cart of what looked like wigs. He felt her peering closely at them, and flicked his eyes over towards Albus, who had noticed them to. The twitch of Albus' thin brow spoke to Harry. 'Continue.' They walked on as if they know anything, feeling the girl dart closer as they walked away. Harry pursed his lips as he noticed the beautiful blonde girl he'd seen the night before in a dress shop as they passed, looking subtly at them before turning her head back to the dress in her hands. Was the whole family here? Harry carefully monitored his thoughts in case the bronze-haired boy had chosen to tag along. 'Square root of pi is 1.…..' Harry kept the numbers flowing in his head as he subtly scanned across the floor. Figures he couldn't have a relaxing day without the stalkers showing up to ruin it. "I wonder what the purpose of a digital lighter is?" Albus wondered aloud as his long fingers worked over his new phone. "Entertainment, I imagine," Harry could tell Albus was trying to distract him with 'filler' conversation. "The shop lady was most helpful. Do you know you can shop online without even leaving your house, now? It's a wonder we even need to walk anymore. There's a thing called iLife now…"

Harry heard a distant snicker and knew the girl was listening in. He grumbled unintelligibly. Albus continued his ramblings, providing a distraction for the listeners. They still had some shopping to do, so Harry hoped that after a while of hearing nothing significant they would lose interest. They entered a rather large clothing store and yet another female shop assistant was most adamant about helping them with their clothes, abandoning her post at a register. She seemed to fall in completely adoration with Albus and in lust with Harry, as many had before, and wasted no time ringing up a brand new wardrobe for both. Harry felt a little odd in some of the tighter-fitting clothing, but who was he to judge? After picking up some more essentials, and Harry was completely doused in bags. He managed to look a little weighed down for appearances as they walked back to the car, still feeling the eyes of the girls on him. What reason did they really have for following them everywhere? Harry's skin prickled again and he looked up to see two boys standing close to their car, as if admiring it, a flashy red convertible parked close by. Harry recognized the pair as two of the Cullen's boys. He slowed down as approached softly, but Albus didn't seem to have any reservations as he continued on, pressing the unlock button on his keys. The two boys turned when they felt their approach, and they looked almost apprehensive as they reached the car. "Can I help you boys?" Albus inquired, stopping beside them. The brunette looked to the blonde quickly before answering in an equally friendly tone. "Oh no, sorry. We were just admiring your ride." "My ride?" Albus frowned, looking at Harry. Harry shrugged, looking very annoyed as he opened the trunk and stuffed the bags in. "Yeah, your car. Brand new?" "Ah yes, just received it today. It was Harry's pick, actually," Albus smiled at Harry, but Harry suspected that the two boys didn't notice the teasing undertone in that smile. "Nice," The boy nodded, flickering his eyes back to his blonde

companion, who hadn't spoken and hadn't lifted his narrowed eyes from Albus once. Harry's eyes narrowed on the blonde. His eyes were flecked with black and red, while the bulkier one's eyes were completely gold. The otherwise animal-hunting coven allowed a human-hunter in their midst? 'How does that work out?' Harry wondered. Living amongst the Volturi for as long as they did was easy enough but then again Albus and Harry had been long-since used to it. Suddenly the boy's eyes snapped to Harry, his glare becoming a bit more intense as he made the switch. Harry inclined and tilted his head in a 'can I help you?' sort of way. That only seemed to make the boy more agitated, as his eyes narrowed further. "Are you new around here?" The brunette asked of the Albus, whose eyes had turned to the boy that was staring them down. He assessed the blonde and Harry could tell that he almost taunting him with sparkling eyes. "Ah yes. We moved a little less than a week ago. Albus Dumbledore," Albus nodded his head at the brunette. "Emmett Cullen, sir. And this is my brother Jasper," He gestured to the blonde. Harry didn't care for the way the blonde looked at him. It was almost as he were trying to pick him apart. The vampire had guts, he had to admit. But he was starting to dislike the Cullen's more and more the more he learned about them, and the more times he crossed them. Perhaps it was time to knock off the subtle approaches and make them realize whom, exactly, they were dealing with. Albus shook his head, and Harry growled, drawing a look from Emmett. Jasper, however, looked surprised. Harry glared at him back. "I know you know who we are, so let's not dance around the issue. Stop looking at me in that manner. I'm not the devil, but I can do very good impersonation of him," Harry said. Emmett barked in laughter, before realizing that that it probably wasn't a good time for it. Harry seemed sated by the wary look that Jasper adopted.

Harry's eyes darted towards the mall where the girls… and the bronze-haired boy were making their way out of the entrance and across the parking lot. He made sure they could hear him before he continued. "I don't know of what interest you have in us but I can assure you it's completely unwarranted and unwelcome. Whatever you know or think you know, I suggest you leave it alone. We're not here to cause trouble," Harry hissed through clenched teeth. "Whoa man! We're not trying to give you a hard time or anything. It's just…" "It's just what?" Harry demanded. Albus pursed his lips as he moved beside him, so they were both standing directly across from the Cullens as the other three moved to join them. Emmett looked at his brother for a second, as if unsure how to continue. "It's just you've been looking for us… or one of you has," Albus said smiling, and the Cullens stared at him. His ancient voice was full of mischief as he turned his twinkling blue eyes on each of them. "Perhaps it would be prudent that you join us later on tonight. That way we'll be able to, how do you say, kill two birds with one stone? We've been meaning to compliment your mother on the house, and you can explain why you're following us." "Sounds great!" the pixie burst, looking thoroughly pleased with the turn of events. Harry turned his eyes onto the bronze-haired one who had been staring at him since he arrived. He locked his green eyes with golden ones, starring into the perfect boy's face. He was taken aback by all the emotions he saw swirling in those eyes, and he decided to test his theory out directly. 'Finding anything interesting?' The boy's eyes widened a fraction, blinking. He turned his eyes to his siblings before looking back, narrowing his eyes in question. Harry smirked. 'Thought as much.'

He heard the pixie introduce herself as Alice, the beautiful blonde was Rosalie, and the bronze one was… Edward. "When shall we expect you, then?" Albus asked. Harry could tell that he was immensely amused by Alice. "Nine," Alice answered instantly. Albus had barely closed his mouth. He smiled fondly at her. "Nine," He repeated, and looked at Harry, who was still in an eye-lock with Edward. "Harry?" Harry broke the connection, smiling slightly as he nodded to the rest, sparing a dry look at Jasper as he opened the passenger side door of the Rolls-Royce while Albus walked around to the driver's side, slipping in. Harry spared one final look at Edward as Albus turned the car on and went screeching away. Tonight would be very interesting.

Three: How Long Do You Want to Be Loved? "Is there any use in asking why?" Harry asked, standing with arms crossed in front of the windows "My thinking is that if they find out anything at all about us, I want to at least be able to control what they hear. If indeed Aro, Caius, or Marcus have talked to them, then I should like to know what our good friend's intentions were when they confided the information," Albus said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a blood pop… again. Harry flinched when he thought of what kind of propaganda that Aro might be spreading in an attempt to make them angry enough to come back. Albus was strong enough to block Chelsea's power enough to think straight, but Harry wasn't. Albus had made sure Aro didn't try the last time they'd visited. Harry had an infamous temper among his acquaintances, and any slip up on Aro's part after Harry found out about his scheme against Didyme would have been a disaster. Albus was one of the only people that could calm him down when he went on a rampage. Didyme had been another… "So we're going to just… answer?" Harry raged, looking at Albus as if he'd plum lost his mind. "What gives them the right to our lives? What

do they possibly have the grounds to demand from us?" "We'll be finding out in a little over an hour, if the girl is to be trusted," Albus tried to reason with him. "Well, I hope you enjoy your little get-together, because I won't be a part of it," Harry all but yelled as he flew up the stairs. From below Albus called after him. "Oh dear… you're going to leave me to entertain all by myself? Suppose they try and attack me?" Albus whined, teasingly. "Albus, you're more than capable of killing every one of them on the spot," Harry scoffed, and Albus heard him close his door. Albus frowned. 'At least he hasn't broken anything yet.' Albus knew Harry had been holding his anger in for a while. He'd actually gotten a lot better at controlling it, but that didn't mean he could just soak it all up and pretend it was never there. No. Harry's anger could pool into a deep cauldron, gradually adding to it little by little until it overflowed. But Albus hadn't seen mood swings like these since Didyme had died. Albus zipped softly up to Harry's room on the third floor, hearing next to nothing in Harry's room. He opened the door to see Harry sitting cross-legged on the black couch, facing the ceiling to floor windows into the back courtyard, a blank look on his face. Albus approached Harry's side, and followed his gaze into the woods. "I haven't seen you this moody in over five centuries, Harry. Is there something in particular that irks you?" "You already know." Albus smiled. "I had hoped that it was something different. But you haven't thought about them in a long time. Why is it re-emerging now? You were settled enough when we first arrived?" "For the better part of an hour, if you'll remember." "You think that whoever told the Cullens about us has some sort of ulterior motive," Albus stated. Harry looked up at him. "You know them too well to doubt that they're getting more power-

hungry as the years pass. With Aro's collection of pets, what do you think he's going to do when he thinks he's got enough power?" Harry hinted. "I don't think I'm overestimating Aro's sense of decency as I have in the past. We've let them have free reign over the world of vampires, keeping our heritage a secret from humans, and haven't challenged their power, nor do we plan to." "They're getting greedy. Those who have power only want for one thing: More power. The mere fact that we exist is a threat." "I think you are over-thinking the matter." "I might be, but you have to admit that you've thought about it as well." "Harry… it is for the…" "Greater Good," Harry cut Albus off. "I remember your little 'life' philosophy. They do more good than harm, and I understand," Harry lay back on the couch, stretching his legs and placing his arm over his eyes. "I hate that I think this way." Albus pulled Harry's legs up and sat, placing them over his lap. "Their respect keeps them at bay. Whatever they decide to do with that power is their business. They are not a threat to us and so we do not threaten them." "I should have told Marcus about Didyme." "Do you think that would change anything? If he killed Aro for what he did, would you feel better about it? Would Marcus?" Harry was silent. Albus leaned his head back, starring at the ceiling. A moment of silence passed between them. "Whatever the case," Albus changed the subject, "I do not think that the Cullens have ill intentions. Most of it is only curiosity from the head." "You know this?" Harry seemed a little better as another object of anxiety was brought up.

"That family has a lot of talent, Harry. I'm very capable of improvising." "Then perhaps you can tell me what the blonde one was thinking while he was trying to optically set me on fire." "He, like you, draws premature conclusions." And with that, they heard the swift steps of the Cullens from afar. They turned their heads to the window just as they saw Edward break through the trees. A knock on the door followed soon after. Albus and Harry shared a smirk as they stood and made for the stairs. Albus beat Harry to the door, opening it to reveal the blonde man. The blonde man whose eyes widened comically upon seeing him. "Ah, you must be Carlisle Cullen. I can't tell you how delighted I am," Albus opened the door wide for the Cullens to come through. As he opened it, Harry finally caught a look at the head of the Cullen family, and apparently the source of the rest of his family's curiosity. "You…" He murmured. "Do come in. We were so happy to meet your children earlier today. Charming, indeed," Albus continued his old man ramblings as the rest of the family entered. Harry stood off to the side as Albus led them to the living room. Harry watched Carlisle as he walked past. The blonde man stopped in front of him for a second, but didn't quite meet his eyes. Harry tilted his head, frowning slightly. "Harry?" Harry's eyes flickered over to a smaller woman. He recognized her from the forest. She held in her hands a beautiful orange and white lily bouquet. She smiled sweetly at him as she held it out to him. "They're from my garden. I thought they would compliment the kitchen very well," Harry took the glass vase from her, smiling at her. Carlisle took that moment to move past him. Harry got the feeling that the man was having trouble speaking.

"Thank you very much. They're beautiful. Please," He gestured to the living room where the rest of the family was situated. He shut the door after Edward entered. The first to arrive yet the last to enter. Edward smiled slightly as he walked past Harry towards Esme, following her. Harry noticed a large sized bag in his hands. It was holding something fairly thick, and rectangular. Harry carried the vase to the kitchen, setting it on the kitchen table, looking at them reverently, before moving to stand beside Albus, once again, across from the Cullens. "I must apologize, Mrs. Cullen. We'd meant to visit to compliment on your wonderful work, but it seems you've anticipated us," Albus smiled, and Emse's face lit up beautifully at the compliment. "May I offer you one?" Albus asked, holding up a small bowl of blood pops. The Cullens looked confused for a second. "They're blood pops," Harry cut in. "Quite good actually. Albus makes them himself," The Cullens looked surprised, but Emmett smiled widely as he came forward to take one for himself. Jasper and Alice took some as well, Alice handing one to Edward. Rosalie stood calculatingly off to the side. Carlisle came forward smiling hesitantly. He stuck one in his mouth, and pulled it out after sucking on it for a second. "Extraordinary… how exactly…" He spoke for the first time since entering the house. Albus chuckled. "I was something of a witch doctor when I was human, and I did adore things that were sweet. I've lost my taste for it, but I was able to concoct a formula that tastes identical to that of human blood. It had become my guilty pleasure, I'm afraid." "A witch doctor you say?" Esme asked, intrigued. Albus held a hand up. "I do believe we need to reach an agreement before any more information is exchanged. Harry and I are rather suspicious of your motives as it is, and you have a fair bit of leverage over us. You appear to have a great deal of information on us, from what we've observed, and we'd like to know how you came upon such information." Harry heard a gulp come from the head of the family, and Carlisle

looked down before steeling himself. "That was my doing. We've met before." "Have we?" Albus asked, baiting him. "Stop it, Albus," Harry scolded, and that seemed to cause a fair bit of amusement from the Cullens. Harry imagined it must look funny for a sixteen-year-old to be scolding his grandfather. He noticed a small smile worming its way onto Edwards lips as he looked at him. Harry had to admit, he was one of the more dashing young men that he had met during his lifetime. And that was saying something. Harry let them calm down before continuing. "We remember, Mr. Cullen." Carlisle smiled slightly, looking into his eyes the first time. "I didn't realize until just before… I was changed about three years afterwards. I thought… I tried to find you. I thought that if anyone could help me, it might be you." Albus smiled sympathetically. "I think it's safe to say we'd worn out our welcome in that village. May I ask… do you know who your assailant was?" Carlisle shook his head. "I remember next to nothing of his face. He took me in an alley while I was unprotected." "I imagine you made a rather large group of enemies at that time. Do not make yourself uneasy. We've seen a fair amount of witch hunts in our time," He shared a smile with Harry. "Unfortunately nothing ever seems to be accomplished. Now when they finally started burning people instead of just hanging them, you really started getting somewh- oof …" Harry had kicked Albus' shoe, and now they were looking at each other with playful looks on their faces. Carlisle was shocked. He knew that Albus and Harry were close from everything the Volturi had told them, but observing it up close, and in better conditions than before, was almost surreal. But it fit, somehow. Albus seemed to act a lot younger than his appearance implied, and Harry acted older. Carlisle supposed that their true age, which could be taken from their actions and disposition, was almost completely the same. They spoke a language that only they seemed to fully understand. Carlisle began to wonder if anyone, despite having much knowledge like the Volturi seemed to have, truly knew them.

Carlisle eyed Jasper, who had procured a puzzled look on his face. Carlisle had heard all about Jasper's reaction to meeting Albus and Harry at the mall, and he had almost been pressed to scold him. Carlisle and Jasper had had two different, limited, experiences with Albus and Harry, but both experiences had the same connotation. That Albus and Harry, while perfectly able to experience emotions, had an almost indifference to human life. Edward heard Carlisle's thoughts, and bit the inside of his lip. Albus and Harry noticed the shift in Carlisle's temperament. "There's something you wish to ask us, Carlisle?" Albus inquired. Carlisle looked up, opening his mouth to say something, but Albus raised a hand. "We have a few things to ask you first. You looked for us, Carlisle. Obviously you found something…?" "Ah yes. The Volturi." Calisle stated. Harry became smug, and Albus looked pensive. "And what did they tell you?" "They told me that you sired them, Albus. That you and Harry had been around for a great deal longer than any other vampires in existence. You travel together, feeding only on animals, never staying long enough in one place to leave a mark," He continued as Albus nodded along with each statement. "You raised Harry and changed him, deciding that he would be your companion. That you're both over 7,000 years old." "Anything else?" Albus asked, as if waiting for something. "You can change your appearance," Carlisle stated finally. Albus smiled. "He was very sad when you left them after they settled in Italy. I think he was hoping that you two would stay, offer your talents…" "Is that the only talent he mentioned?" Albus' smile widened. Carlisle looked confused. "Yes." "There, now," Albus turned to Harry. Harry smugness turned into something that suggested he might have just lost a bet.

"Wait… there's more?" Alice asked, frowning. "It's possible." Emmett chuckled. "Is he always like this?" He asked Harry. "Actually, he's being a lot more straight-forward than usual. I'm surprised," Harry said matter-of-factly. "I've been meaning to ask you. You can change your appearance but I've heard that you're only very subtle about it. Why is that?" Carlisle asked. "Yeah, can you like… turn yourself into a teenager?" Emmett asked Albus. "…and can you turn yourself into an old person?" Harry answered, "We can. At first, Albus could do it easier than I could, mostly because he'd already been young, and I've never been old, figuratively speaking. But I've have ample time to practice, as you can imagine." "Will you show us?" Alice asked excitedly. "Changing our age is not something we do as a parlor trick, you understand," Albus said. "If we went about changing every detail about ourselves, we feel like we would lose what little of our human appearance that we have left. We don't drastically change our appearance unless we feel it's required. We'd like to preserve our dignity." Harry nodded, and Alice and Emmett looked thoroughly disappointed. "Now that that is out of our way," Albus stared again, looking amusedly at the pair, "We have a question. How has such a large coven come to be?" "It started with me," Carlisle started, as he took Esme's hand in his own. "We think of ourselves more as a family than just a band of vampires," Esme smiled. "As I told you, I spent some time with the Volturi, and eventually gave up trying to find you, you being the only 'vegetarians' I knew. I found a job as a doctor and that's what I've been doing ever since. I wanted

companionship however, much like what you and Harry have, so I tried looking, but to no avail. It was about 200 years later that I was working in a hospital in Chicago, and I found Edward," He gestured to him. "It was about 1912…" He went on about how each of the company came to join him. "How wonderful that you have found your mates so young in life," Albus murmured. Esme nodded, "It is very fortunate," She grasped Carlisle's hand tighter. "We're hoping that soon Edward will find someone as well. I do hate to see him alone all the time." Edward scoffed. "I'm hardly alone all the time. I can't seem to get the lot of you of my hair, most of time." Esme smiled affectionately at him, and he smiled back. Alice, however, was smiling at Harry. He eyed her unsurely. "Hmmm…. Very interesting," Albus murmured once again, his eyes on Alice. Harry noticed the look in his eyes. "Is there something you'd like to tell me Albus?" Harry asked, getting irritated that Alice, Edward, and even Albus knew something that he didn't. "Later, I think. It hardly seems appropriate now." Harry rolled his eyes. Alice looked at Albus, wondering what was making him look at her like that. Like he was looking through her. She shook her head. She might just be over-thinking it. Instead, she changed the subject. "How about you two? Have you had… or have… someone?" She asked. Albus smiled wistfully, his eyes taking on a faraway look. Harry bit his lip, looking to his friend. "I had but one great love, the only one I shall ever have." His normally cheerful blue eyes shone with profound regret. "Alas, it was not meant to be." "What happened?" Alice asked, stepping forward a bit, feeling compelled to comfort the man.

"I'm afraid on that matter, it is best to be silent. Sometimes, love is simply not enough," He said, smiling regretfully. Jasper struggled, trying to gain any sort of emotions from them, but there was nothing. That subtle feeling that could only be described as indifference was the only thing he could feel. But it was clear from the looks of both the men that that was simply untrue. Jasper's eyes narrowed. There was something weird going on here. "I…I didn't mean to…." Alice said. "Nonsense, it is in no way your fault. I have long sense gotten over it. I do, sometimes, have regrets," Albus looked up, frowning when he saw the somber faces of his audience. "Oh dear, I've distressed you." The somber looks turned incredulous. "I shall not tolerate this in my house," Albus said sternly, as if he hadn't been lamenting a second ago. There was an echo of his sadness behind his eyes, but it was quickly extinguished when a new smug smile stretched across his face. "You're turn, m'boy," He turned the look onto the boy. Harry scowled. "What are you talking about? There's no one," He hissed. "You've never had someone at all?" Alice asked. "I didn't say never. I said there's no one now." Edward concealed a stricken look on his face, but he had felt a pang. Harry had someone before? "Harry's romantic life is of much better humor than mine, I must say," Albus chuckled. "I believe I am at fault for most of it, unfortunately." "Yes. It is completely your fault. So this is a very cruel way to make it up to me." Edward was thoroughly frustrated. He'd been trying to get into Harry's mind for some time, yet the thoughts and images were completely blurred making it impossible to decipher anything. What was wrong with him? He went around the room, trying to see if it was only Harry's thoughts that were being difficult for him, but he froze when

he saw Albus sneaking glances at him before landing on Harry once again. Edward frowned. Was it something to do with Albus? He took into account how Alice's visions had been defaulting regularly when she tried seeing the pair, only letting up once in a while, and even then, the results weren't very profound. Something anyone could observe on their own. Albus signing papers, Harry's fondess for books, the shopping trip… Edward spared a glance at Jasper, who bore a frustrated look. He dove into his head, happy that at least he could read Jasper. Jasper seemed to have found an inconsistency between the feelings and the looks that he was reading. Either Harry and Albus were great at faking emotions, or there was something bigger going on. He zoned in on the conversation once again. "There was someone. It was a long time ago, and it's over now. That is all that needs to be known," Harry stated, and Albus sighed as he heard the stubbornness in his young friend's voice. He knew Harry had every right to be wary of spreading around too much information on his life, as he himself did, but Harry seemed to bare a blatant mistrust of the Cullens. Albus had lost that mistrust when the Cullens came through the door, as he caught the particular gift of the youngest boy. Harry didn't bear that subtle advantage that Albus did, so it made it harder for him. He blinked suddenly, and Harry become wary as Albus turned his eyes on to Edward. The boy seemed slightly surprised at the sudden attention, but bore Albus' stare admirably. "You are a very smart one, for so young a person, Edward," Albus addressed him by name for the first time. Harry turned his head to him as well. Albus must have heard something. The boy was a mind reader after all. Edward looked very nervous with both the ancient vampire's undivided attention on him now. Albus and Edward continued their stare-down, but nothing could be deciphered from their eyes. Albus scrutinized the boy before him. He could tell that he was coming very close to uncovering something about Albus. That was a problem that Albus wasn't acquainted with, but it didn't surprise him

as much, considering the range of powers of the people in the room. Edward, however, had a particular gift that gave him a coveted advantage. Albus wondered how they managed to elude the Volturi so for long. Especially since they knew Carlisle, Albus doubted that he had escaped Aro's attention. Edward had very limited experience in actually working hard to figure out what another person was thinking. It was very unnerving that the man was looking at him as if he were some kind of specimen under a microscope but to have all his thoughts blurred so they were virtually useless was almost unbearable. It was as if he were watching the thoughts through wax paper. "Edward?" Esme's worried voice broke through their connection. He looked around and saw that his family has tensed dramatically, inching closer to them as if they thought that Albus was somehow attacking him with his eyes. He looked at Harry, who's teeth were bared as he stared intently at the family, waiting for any sudden movements. "I apologize. This is highly unorthodox I assure you. I was merely considering the steps you must have taken to make sure that your gifts have gone undetected by the Volturi." Edward tensed. "It is quite none of my business, and nor do I have any ill intentions toward your coven. I for one find it quite refreshing to see such a powerful group without any of the aspirations that we find among much weaker covens. And knowing quite intimately Aro's nose for talent, it seems very unlikely that he might have overlooked yours." The entire family tensed as Albus spoke, wondering if Albus were like Aro in his interest of collecting gifts. Nevertheless, Carlisle felt the need to speak. "He's most certainly made an offer to Edward and Alice. His biggest interest was in Edward, suffice to say. But they've both refused on multiple counts, and Aro hasn't shown any intention of forcing them into joining him." "Yet," Harry mumbled. The Cullens spared an uncertain look at him before turning back to Albus.

Albus was smiling delightedly. "How wonderful. Not many would give up such a life of power. Your family is very intriguing Carlisle. You seem to have a very close-knit group here. That is not easily-done. I applaud you," Albus bowed his head at Carlisle, who looked shocked. "Thank you, sir." "Albus, if you please," Albus' smile became wider. Carlisle nodded graciously. "Well, now that the ice seems very suitably broken, perhaps you would like to share your theories with the class, Edward," Seeing as how Edward had formed the opinion on his own, Albus couldn't find a reason to conceal it any further. Harry frowned at Albus, wondering what he could possibly be talking about. He turned his eyes to Edward. He'd been surprised to hear that both Edward and Alice had turned down the Volturi. The offer of more power wasn't easily turned down, yet they seemed to have no regrets at all. Harry well knew the effect that the Volturi had on lesser vampires. Most seemed suitably awed and afraid in their presence. Turning them down came with a certain amount of strength… and gall. He contemplated Alice, and it seemed like she had a very obvious reason for turning them down. She had found her mate, Jasper, and it warmed Harry to see so much affection between them. Harry didn't have much experience on the subject, but it seemed that their love reached very deep inside both of them, judging by the adoring and protective looks in their eyes when they looked at each other. Harry wondered what Edward's reason was. Edward bit his lip as he felt Harry's gaze on him. He had to admit, he very much liked when the boy's were on him. He decided to focus on Albus instead, hoping to control his need to stare back at the boy. He was fairly confident with the conclusion he had formed, but Albus' ancient eyes were nothing if not daunting. He would hate to be treated like a child by him. "Whenever we're around you, or focusing on you, our powers seem not to work. You could be able to block us. But I can hear things every once in a while, and Alice can see things, but nothing very important. So you don't block things indefinitely. You

can control it." Albus quirked his brows. "A very suitable conclusion. You're only halfright though." "Albus…" Harry whined, not understanding why Albus was relating such information. "I'm entitled to as a choose. I see no harm in correcting what he already seems to know," Albus chided. Harry let out a sigh, crossing his arms, acting very much like his appeared age. "I can block powers if I choose. However, I can… borrow powers as well. I hope you don't mind, Edward, I've been using your gift most heavily over the past hour or so. I hope you understand," Edward raised his brows high. "You can never be too careful when exchanging information, and your talent made it very easy to detect any untruths that might be uttered." Edward froze. Albus had been borrowing his powers, and Alice had been not been thinking about anything but the images of Edward and Harry when she brought up the question pertaining to past relationships. Edward stared at Albus in horror, and Albus assured him with a smile. "Your secret is safe with me." Edward was mortified, and promptly started glaring at Alice, who bore a slightly apologetic look. Harry was getting increasingly irritated. Albus was being infuriatingly vague, which was something that Harry disliked immensely. Albus felt the boy's glare, and his eyes twinkled. "Soo… is that why Jasper can't feel anything coming from you?" Emmett asked, turning towards his brother, who looked intrigued. "Oh, I should imagine that Jasper feels something. I rarely completely block talents to avoid being obvious, but I do skew them so that the talents become useless." Something seemed to dawn on Jasper. Albus raised a brow at him. "This evening is full of surprises, I see," He drawled as he regarded

Jasper, before seemingly deciding on something. He let a smile stretch across his face yet again. "I'm sure there is still much to be discussed, but this has been a truly enlightening experience. I haven't had such an interesting day in far too long. I shall look forward to knowing more about your family, Carlisle. You're family is simply delightful." Harry raised his eyes to the ceiling, feeling very left out. He observed that the rest of the Cullens aside from Edward and Alice seemed to feel much the same from the thoroughly confused looks on their faces. Edward and Alice were acting as if there were a pink elephant in the room, and they were having a hard time not talking about it. Edward felt bad that everything was being kept from the rest of the family, but he would be mortified if Harry somehow found out what the unspoken conversation contained. Instead, he shifted his attention to the bag that was sitting by his feet. The awkward silence that had spread across the room seemed to provide the perfect moment to bring it up. Edward reached for it, holding it unsurely in his hands, bringing his eyes to Harry. Harry's eyes had narrowed on Edward and the parcel in his hands. He noticed it when he came in, but thought perhaps it was just another peace offering, and nothing important. He locked eyes with Edward as he looked up, golden meeting green. Edward broke the connection by looking down at the bag again, before moving forward a few steps. When Harry didn't recoil, he came even closer, closer than they had ever been. He stopped directly in front of Harry, and he brought his eyes to Harry again. Albus watched with a growing smile. Edward seemed unsure of what to say. He settled on, "Carlisle had this in his office from when he was gathering information on you. The Volturi gave this copy to him," He opened the bag a little wider, letting Harry see what appeared to be a canvas inside. "We thought that maybe you'd like to have it." Harry dipped his hand into the bag, pushing the canvas to lean to one side, allowing him a glimpse of the front. His lips parted and his eyes widened as he grasped the top of it and pulled it out. Albus

approached from his side, looking at the painting reverently. Harry gulped as he starred in the faces on the canvas. He'd completely forgotten about the painting. But it all came back to him as he stared into the happy faces. Marcus looked handsome, strong, and full of life, and Didyme looked beautiful… and happy. Albus, Aro, Caius, and the wives starred contemplatively into the deep Italian night, stars littering the sky. Harry remember much happier times, when Didyme made every day happier than the last, and Aro and Caius made him laugh at their constant bantering over one thing or another. Marcus provided hours and hours of wonderful conversation and adventure, Didyme at his side smiling adoringly at him all the while. They had been so happy… How could Aro choose to destroy such a gift merely to keep Marcus as a prize? His hands gripped the painting gently. The Cullens observed this new and more emotional Harry with somber concern. If Harry had been capable of it, they knew he would be crying. Albus and Harry stood side-by-side, starring in regretful wonder at the painting, Albus' arm on Harry's shoulder, squeezing comfortingly. Edward looked down at the painting, feeling like unwanted company as all the emotions that crossed Harry's face left no question of his feelings towards the painting. Still, being this close to Harry was nice. He hadn't noticed before, but Harry had a very distinct smell. He must have mistaken it for the bouquet that Esme had brought, but Harry smelt like lilies. But there was more. It was like one of those scents that was so elusive, occurring only so many times during a lifetime, and you don't remember where you recognize it from or what it was, but it reminded you of something, and it made you feel… content… and happy. Harry suddenly looked up at Edward, who was starring down at the painting, looking thoughtful. Harry was appreciative that Edward wasn't looking at him, observing him in such an intimate moment with his past. Harry was a lot of things, but he wasn't typically open about his emotions with anyone save Albus. Harry observed the darkness in his eyes in which so many emotions were flitting around unchecked.

Edward's eyes rose slowly until they met again. Harry's eyes were calculating, narrowed slightly at first, but then it seemed to relax. He bit the inside of his lip, and tilted his head. "Thank you," He whispered. He turned his head to look at the rest of the Cullens. "This is… very kind of you," He looked at the painting again. "Indeed it is," Albus smiled. "We have but few very fond memories, and you've had in your possession one of the fondest." Edward smiled softly as Harry turned back to him, pursing his lips a little. Harry regarded him for a second, before a small smile seemed to tug at his lips. Perhaps he had been premature in his judgment of the Cullens. He hadn't imagined to ever see the painting again, and he certainly hadn't expected to see it in the hands of a family that he'd never met before. But this certainly was another thing to consider. It was another hour of small talk before the Cullens took their leave. Albus stated cheerfully that they were welcome to the house anytime they wished, and Harry nodded in agreement. Albus' apparent trust of them left him slightly more at ease, but he was far from being as open with them as perhaps they wished. They walked them to threshold of the forest. "We'll see you at school, Harry?" Alice asked. Harry nodded. "I'll be there." "You're a sophomore, right?" Harry nodded again. "You'll be with Edward and I then. Maybe we'll have some classes together!" She seemed excited at the prospect. Harry chuckled lightly. "That would be lovely." "And of course you'll sit with us at lunch," She went on making all sorts of plans while her family regarded her fondly. "C'mon, Alice. Give the guy a break," Emmett cut in as he made ready to run. Alice smiled at Harry and Albus angelically. "It's wonderful to finally meet you."

"Yes. We have to have you over soon, as well," Carlisle said. "I'm sure there is much we will have to talk about," Albus nodded. The Cullens smiled. The tense atmosphere between them seemed to have dissipated nicely. Once they were out of earshot, Albus turned to Harry, watching as the youth stared in the forest after them. "Well, Harry. Who knew our spur of the moment pick for new territory could lead us to stumble upon such a family." Harry smiled affectionately at him. Indeed. Who knew? "Now, what do think I should pack you for lunch on Monday?" "Silence yourself."

Four: Tell Me When I'm Gonna Live Again Harry spent most of that Sunday before school at the mall in Port Angeles. It had been three days since their meeting with the Cullens and the laptops had been rushed to the store the previous day. Esme had stopped the day after their meeting to see in more depth what they had done with the place and to make suggestions. Harry and Albus decided to take the previous day and hunt. Harry would hunt again that night before school, stocking up before facing the horrors of high school again. It really had been too long. Harry stalked through the mall once again, laptops in hand and was making his way back to his Bugatti when he noticed a bookstore across the road. On the other side of the larger mall there seemed to be another smaller outlet mall, complete with restaurants and clothing stores. Harry supposed he could use some more up-to-date reading material. Albus had even suggested he buy a book on modern slang. Harry had scoffed at that. Albus probably wanted the book more for himself. Neither the less, he put his purchases into the passenger seat and took off across the road. He opened the door as a bell went off, seeing a great amount of books for such a small store. He dodged the sales lady by slipping

into one of the rows of bookshelves. Unfortunately he seemed to have fallen into the romance section. The looks he received by the three females that made up the row's population made him re-think entering the store. His lips tightened as he made his way around the row, finding himself close to the coffee shop. He managed to pick up a little pink book on American Slang and iPod for Idiots for Albus, and a few books that looked interesting. He sat himself down at a table in the coffee shop, blocking out the bitter scent of the coffee and the sweet scents of the syrups. He also faded out the stares of the people around him. One girl in particular, who was seated slightly to his right kept sneaking looks at him. He moved his shoulders a bit and pretended to sigh as he picked up a book on the history of the Celts. He hadn't had a lot of time in silence for the past few days since Albus would periodically change his ring tone and then call it just to hear it over and over again. 'Merlin! That's the Turkish March!' He'd announced about the seventh time he changed it. Aside from the stares and the stench of the coffee, it was pretty quiet. He'd been very interested in his culture when he'd been human, even though it no longer applied to him. It was nice to see what kind of civilization his parents had lived in. Suddenly, his nose twitched. He wrinkled his nose, and opened his mouth tasting the air. There was a very fragrant and, frankly, appetizing smell on the air. "Harry?" Harry looked up in surprise, not expecting to actually be recognized by anyone in Port Angeles. Chief Swan stood before him, smiling cheerfully. He was standing over towards the girl that had been sneaking glances at him before. Harry smiled politely back. "Mr. Swan. It's very nice to see you again." "What are you doing all the way out here? Get tired of Forks already?" He laughed as he came closer, the girl looking shyly around as if her father was actually embarrassing her. There must be some kind of code that teenagers follow these days, Harry thought. "Just getting some shopping done. I ordered some lap computers for Albus and I a few days ago and they came in yesterday," Harry

explained. "How about yourself?" "Ah! I'm just here to pick up my daughter, Bella, here," He gestured to the girl who was looking more and more mortified by the second. Harry chuckled amusedly. It was clear that she was in no way comfortable around her father. "I had meant to introduce you! Bella! This is Harry Potter. He's new as well, just moved here about a week ago," Charlie told her. Harry was beginning to notice that Charlie unfortunately seemed just as uncomfortable around Bella as she was around him. "It's a pleasure," Harry stuck his hand out. Bella smiled tightly as she moved forward to take his hand. She shook her hair as her hand slipped into his, and caught the appetizing scent once again. Harry withdrew a second later. She was definitely better smelling than any of the humans he'd run across so far. "So you'll be in school tomorrow then?" Charlie asked again. "Of course. Albus had me enrolled a few days ago. I'll be a sophomore, but I don't have my schedule yet." "That right? Oh well. I hope you don't feel too much like a fish in a tank at school. Unfortunately we don't get many newcomers to Forks that weren't actually born here." "Can't imagine why," Harry smiled angelically. The girl, he noticed, tried to suppress a smile at that. "Ahh… well… excuse me for a second. The coffee is calling me. I'll be right back," He laid a hand on Bella's back before slipping off to the line at the coffee counter. Harry and Bella stood for a second. Bella looked thoroughly embarrassed by her father's antics. It was obvious that Charlie was trying hard to make her comfortable in her new home, when it was clear that she felt very out of place there. Her face was slightly blotchy from blushing, her long brown hair falling to her aid by covering part of it. Harry felt a little sympathy for her, so he broke the ice by asking what city in Arizona she was form. He already knew, but he was at a loss for what young people talked about these days. She blinked at him. "Did he tell you my entire life story?"

"Uh… no. He merely mentioned that you were moving up here and that you were from Arizona …" He trailed off. From what Charlie had said, it was Bella that wanted to come to Forks. "We only met a few days ago. If you're entire life story can be surmised into those two facts…" Bella sighed. "I'm sorry. That was rude." Harry rolled his eyes, confused by the temperament of this human. "Only a little. I'd only meant to start a conversation." "I don't socialize much," Bella admitted, looking at him as if waiting for him to lash out at her. Had Harry known her a little bit better, he might have. But since she seemed to be a harmless and largely embarrassed little girl, he swallowed his annoyance and shrugged. "Neither do I." Bella looked at him from under her fringe, pursing her lips together. "I'm from Phoenix. Lived there for most of my life with my mom." Harry nodded. "What brings you to Forks?" Bella sighed, looking away. "My mom just got remarried. I wanted to give them time alone." Harry frowned. He hadn't been expecting that. She was slightly exasperating, yet she was…. Selfless, as it turned out. Harry wasn't sure what to say to that. "Ah," He replied awkwardly. What did one say to something like that? Bella sighed as if his 'Ah' had some sort of underlying tone that almost offended her. "I mean, I like him well enough. I didn't come here as some sort of teenage rebellion," Her tone suggested that that was what Harry was accusing her of. Harry blinked. Did everything he say have some sort of negative connotation? 'Honestly, humans are so incomprehensible.' "I didn't imply anything of the sort. You're assuming things." "Right," Bella answered, looking around nervously. "I'm sorry. I've been here a few times and the people like to pry." Harry rolled his eyes. "I've noticed," He agreed as he looked out of

the corner of his eye at a group of teenage girls that were sitting at a table close to them, staring at him, not even bothering to conceal themselves. He inhaled irritably. Bella followed his eyes, and received glares from the girls in question. She smiled shyly in his direction. "I guess you must be used to it?" "Why do you say that?" Bella blushed. "Well… I mean…. You look…. I didn't…" Harry chuckled inwardly. "My grandfather and I don't get out much. We mostly just stick together instead of outsiders." She smiled. "I don't either. Most of the time I just like being alone." Harry was confused. Didn't humans thrive in the company of others? She was selfless and a loner. What a peculiar girl… Harry had noticed that she seemed to gravitate toward him, and the closer she got, the better she smelled. Harry had had his fair share of 'singers'. Bella most certainly didn't smell as good as others had, but she smelled better than any as he'd seen around the area. He turned his head to see Charlie coming back over, a cup of hot black coffee in his hands. "Sorry to leave you like that. Been a long day. Have you met anyone in Forks yet, Harry?" He asked, taking a sip from the cup. "We got a visit from Dr. Cullen and his family." "Really? I hardly ever see them out. Good folks, though. Carlisle is a great hit at the hospital." "I'm sure he is. He's a very interesting man," Harry smirked. "Well then. I think it's time we got going, Bells. I have to be back at the office. Apparently we've got some wild dogs that are causing havoc." That peaked Harry's interest. "Is that so?" He inquired. "Anything to worry about?" "Well, they've gotten three hikers so far. Very brutal deaths to," Charlie shivered slightly. "Hope you're watching yourself and Albus over there at your place, especially since the forest is basically your

backyard." He warned. Harry almost chuckled at the thought of a scenario in which Albus went up against a pack of dogs. He might think it was his birthday or something. "I'll be sure to tell Albus to watch himself, sir," Harry acquiesced. "Good. Perhaps you and Bells will run across each other tomorrow." Harry gave Bella a once over. She was blushing still, biting her lip. "I hope so," He said politely. Bella smiled tightly again, as if thinking she had already blown it. Harry didn't know why he was feeling so charitable today, but he tilted his head comfortingly. "Maybe we'll have a class together, yeah?" She nodded, and Charlie said goodbye before leading her to counter to purchase the books she'd picked out and left. Harry left shortly after, not wanting to be accosted by anyone else he might know. Harry zipped down the stairs decked in sweat pants and a baggy black T-shirt late Sunday night, and Albus looked up in question over Harry's attire. "Care for dogs?" Harry asked, as he pulled on a pair of shoes. "Surely you're not thinking about a pet, Harry?" Harry laughed. "I ran into Chief Swan in Port Angeles today. He said something about wild dogs killing three hikers this weekend. Thought it might be good to get an extra bite before tomorrow. Are you coming?" He strode forward, fully clothed. "How many?" "Enough to cause a stir." Harry smiled. Albus nodded, standing. Alice was worried about Jasper, Edward could tell. Jasper was always a nervous wreck right before the beginning of the school year. Thoughts of blushing students staring at him and the inevitable probability of paper cuts and the like flooded through his head untamed, while Alice tried to soothe him. They were waiting for Carlisle to get back from an emergency at the hospital to join them on the hunt, and Esme had decide to call on

Harry and Albus to see if they might join them. She had left about an hour before Edward's phone rang and announced that they weren't home. Judging by the time of night, they knew that they had beat them to the punch, and went hunting themselves. Edward had been brooding over Albus' ability over the past few days. Would he really keep such a secret from Harry? They were best friends after all. Or maybe he had another knowledge that would cancel out any possibility of the vision actually coming true. He wondered about Harry's other lover. He'd been so reluctant to talk about it that it made Edward nervous that Harry still had feelings for them. But Harry had adamantly denied having any continuing relationship with them, and that they were merely friends. In fact, the very subject seemed to make Harry angry but it might have just been the prying. Albus and Harry were very used to having a private life without offering any explanations. Edward could relate to wanting that kind of life. He also wondered about Didyme, the woman that Harry and Albus seemed to have loved so well. Edward knew from Eleazar that Aro had her killed, his own sister, so that Marcus would stay with them. Surely Harry knew this already. He had seen a great deal of despair in both Harry's and Albus' eyes as they watched her. Edward had only heard stories of her spirit and general happiness. He imagined that it would have been hard not to love her. They heard the black Mercedes pull into the drive, followed by Carlisle coming through the back door. He took one look at Jasper and immediately led the family out the back door, turning off all the lights in the house as he went. Edward took off the fastest, crossing the river and flying into the forest with Jasper hot on his heels and Alice beside him. They ran deeper and deeper, searching for a tell tale scent that would lead them to their meals. Edward and Jasper broke off to either side, Alice following Jasper and Edward heard the rest break into their own groups. He ran alone. He'd gotten used to running alone. Most of the time, they would just go hunting in groups. Whoever was hungry went, but sometimes, like

this, when the whole family participated together, they always broke off into groups, leaving Edward alone. But he didn't mind. He had never minded enjoying the thrill of running faster and faster, not having to stop and wait for people, not having someone telling you where to go, or when to turn back. He could run for days, nights, weeks. While the bloodlust was always a ruling party in his thoughts, he had to admit that once that carnal lust had been sated for the night, he continued on while the others turned back. His family had learned not to worry about him. They knew he liked his time alone. He caught the scent of a coyote, tearing off in the same direction, jumping on its back a second later and sinking his teeth in. It wasn't enough. It wasn't near enough. His eyes darted around, his ears alert and his nose working to find him his next prey. His nose twitched as he caught the scent of a moose a little further ahead, but as he darted forward to catch it, another smell swarmed his senses. Lilies. Edward knew that Harry knew he was there, but the boy jumped out from the trees into the meadow where the large animal stood warily. The moose made a good effort to spring away, but Harry was faster, tackling the thing to the ground. Edward watched, almost in slow motion, as the black-haired ancient's fingers curled into a claw-like clutch, sinking into the animal's deep brown pelt, pushing it to the ground, its legs buckling beneath it. Harry's own mane and skin shimmered in the light of the moon as it cast its glow upon the meadow, his green eyes dark and glittering in the thrill of the hunt. Edward hadn't noticed how close he was to his meadow when he'd caught Harry's scent, and he almost didn't care that he had intercepted his own kill. Almost being the key word. Never the less, a growl escaped his clenched jaw, accidentally, and he bent low in a crouch as Harry's head whipped in his direction, glaring intensely at him. Edward's instincts had him low to the ground, getting ready for any attack that Harry might spring on him, but hoping he wouldn't. Harry's ethereal appearance might have made a more logical Edward weak in the knees, but he was in hunting mode, and it was much harder to control the need to defend his kill. But before things might have gotten too out of hand, a large elk emerged from the trees, freezing at it saw the two vampires. Edward momentarily forgot about his thwarted kill, his need to feed

overpowering any other senses as he leapt again, this time catching his prey and draining it enough to get his head straight again. He kept a fair eye on Harry as he fed, and he noticed that Harry did the same. It was as almost sensual experience as Harry finally lifted his head, raising a hand to wipe the excess blood off his already unnaturally red lips. He wiped away the blood as he stood, stepping away from the carcass. Edward finished his own meal, feeling moderately sated, standing as well. 'あ、い、う、え、お、か、き、く、け、こ、さ、し….' Edward smiled slightly. At least he could hear the boy again, even if he was just reciting the Japanese alphabet. He wondered where Albus was. Obviously not in the immediate vicinity or else Harry's thoughts would be skewed just like all the other times he'd confronted them together. "Something amusing?" Harry's voice sounded annoyed. Edward couldn't explain it. Maybe it was the thrill of the hunt that gave him more gall, or the fact that he had at least gotten a 'thank you' out of him yesterday, but it gave him the spirit to not immediately try to please Harry. "Well, if you don't want me to listen, you could start by not yelling your thoughts at me," Edward's smile stretched even more. "I can block them out well enough without the yelling." "I was yelling, was I?" Harry asked, crossing his arms. "Sorry, I don't usually cater my thoughts according to what people might hear," He didn't sound very sorry, but a smile quirked the side of his lips. "It's not like it's a voluntary thing. It just happens. I can't really 'turn it off', so to speak." Harry regarded him, eyes shimmering in the light. He knew Aro had a similar ability, but Edward's seemed a little more helpful from a distance. From a distance, Aro knew nothing. He imagined that Aro must have been very disappointed when Edward turned him down. There was still the looming question of why. "It can actually be a burden, reading thoughts," Edward said, shrugging. "Alice and I consider ourselves freaks among freaks to be

honest. Vampires act differently to vampires, but they act especially wary of us." "Perhaps you shouldn't go around broadcasting that power, then," Harry said, tilting his head. He had a very calculating expression as he stared at Edward. "We don't, but then again, we're not used to other vampires living so close." "So you take to following them instead?" Harry's smile tightened. "No," Edward's face scrunched a little when he remembered Alice's attempts to get closer, but he in no way wanted to expose his sister. "That's just the only way we know how to protect ourselves. Other vampires move into town, especially ancient ones, we need to make sure they aren't a threat to our way of life," He explained. "But you knew who we were already. Your father did, anyway." "Last time he saw you, you were hanging from a noose, feigning death," Edward said, unconsciously taking a step forward. Harry eyed him, but didn't recoil. "That's hardly a position that Carlisle can get a good visual of your abilities." "That's kind of the point. If everyone knew of our abilities, then we lose the element of surprise." Edward nodded, looking away slightly. The moon cast an eerie glow upon his face, and Harry noticed how akin to a Greek god the boy looked. Harry could think that if he sat still long enough, he wouldn't have looked out of place in the Acropolis Museum in Athens. Edward cleared his throat, and Harry watched as the Adam's apple bobbed, quirking an eyebrow at him. "This is my meadow, you know." "Your meadow?" Edward nodded. "Yep. It's where I come to be alone." "You're telling me to leave." "Not at all. Just stating facts."

Harry nodded, and followed the boy's gaze across the meadow. Even though it was late in the summer, the grass was still perfect deep green. The sky was miraculously clear, the first time Harry had seen it this clear since they moved. The stars were faint, but the twinkling made Harry think back to his time in Osaka. There was a particular spot there, close to the airport where he would watch the thunderstorms overhead. The islands around the port set him a great deal apart from a lot of the noise, and sometimes he would lay in the grass and just stare into the heavens, letting the raindrops fall onto his skin and the thunder and lightening flash and crash around him. It was there that he felt closest to the people he had lost. Edward looked over as he saw Harry lay down in the grass, closing his eyes and clasp his fingers over his stomach. "What are you doing?" "Waiting for Albus." Edward nodded, and hesitantly moved forward again. When Harry didn't stop him, he took a seat a few feet from the boy, not too close, but not too far either. "If you don't mind me asking, how exactly do you two get along so well? You seem to have two very different personalities." "Relationships can't always be explained. Albus and I fit together. How do you and your family get along so well?" Edward shrugged. "We're all we've got." "Hmmm…" They fell in a silence for a moment, before Harry decided that he needed one bit of information from the boy. "Why did you turn down the Volturi?" "Why did you leave the Volturi?" "That's a personal question," Harry glared. "So was your question. I don't think I'm asking too much to know why you didn't think that the Volturi's way of life didn't suit you." Harry turned his head towards the boy with narrowed eyes. "You're

not that old. You must have still been fairly young when they asked you, and the young are very prone to leaving their way of life, or the life that Carlisle leads, for something they think is… more fulfilling, perhaps?" Harry kept his eyes on Edward as Edward lay down next to him, bringing them to eye level. "I'll venture to guess, that it was when the Volturi asked you to join them… that was when you decided that you didn't want to live such a life where humans were brought to the slaughter." "Is that your reason as well?" "Albus didn't want to stay. I follow him, remember?" "Are you saying that you'd follow him even if you didn't really want to go?" Harry turned his head away from Edward, contemplating if he was really about to say something that would be too much information. "The Volturi and us have very different values. They believe that the curse of a vampire is some kind of providential right that allows us to govern over the living and other creatures by any means necessary. It's Albus' philosophy, really. He was a firm believer that the end will justify the means, and that as long as they are doing more good than harm, and the rest of our kind is kept in line, there is nothing to worry about." Harry sat up suddenly. "I love Albus, and nothing will ever make me think ill of him. His little life philosophy has caused him a great deal of grief when he sees the things that the Volturi do to keep control. Albus lived that life once, but has seen how it transforms people into demons eager only for more power. It wasn't that long ago that he really saw what his teachings had bourn…" "You mean Didyme?" Harry froze, eyes narrowing in fury. "What do you know about Didyme?" "Aro's sister that he had killed," Harry's eyes widened as Edward sat up as well. "We have a friend that used to be in the Volturi guard. He knows what happened. Marcus and Didyme wanted to leave, but Aro felt that Marcus leaving was too much of a setback. So he killed her."

"Who is this friend?" Harry whispered. "Eleazar." Harry nodded. "I didn't know he left." "He found is mate, a woman named Carmen. They live with friends of ours in Alaska now." Harry closed his eyes, and Edward saw his jaw clenching. "So now, Marcus is the only one who doesn't know." "Why doesn't anyone tell him? He of all people should have the right to know." "He should know, but telling him will mean the end of the Volturi and the world of vampires may very well dissolve into chaos. Their reign is fixed right now, but very few know how fragile that it has become since Didyme. If Marcus were to find out, it would be all out war between him and the rest of the guard. Marcus would kill Aro, that's for sure, but he would die in the process, and I'm not willing to live with that." "So you let him live with a man that killed the love of his life, and watches him everyday in the cold shell that he's in now?" Harry looked up. He hadn't seen Marcus since that night, and was very wary of knowing what had become of him. A cold shell? Harry's dead heart clenched. Edward nodded. "I didn't know Marcus before, but he's like a soulless being, bored with everything and everyone around him. Nothing affects him, excites him, or even surprises him. He's nothing." Harry felt sick, but leaned his head back to the stars. "It is… for the Greater Good, my friend." Edward noted the broken sound in the boy's voice, as if it cost him a part of his humanity to say such a thing. "It is a rule of the universe. One small part of it to be sacrificed to save the rest of it," Harry scoffed. "It's been a long time since I've recited Albus' teachings. Neither of us even believe it anymore. Only in the case of the Volturi can we apply it to, because if we don't, the

future is as uncertain as sea." Harry, Edward noticed, hardly looked like a sixteen-year-old boy any longer. Somewhere along Harry's story, he seemed to let go his youth for a moment, and though to any normal human being he was still youthful, Edward could see the agelessness in his eyes, the stern pursing of his lips, the strong and graceful posture of his body along the ground, the angular facets in his face. Harry would have been a quite breathtaking man if he'd been given the chance to age further. "You're not all that bad, Edward," Harry said, smiling slightly, looking at him again. Edward contemplated him once more, before smirking. "And you're not that bratty child, I took you for, Harry," It was a complete lie, and as soon as Edward heard it come out of his mouth, he knew he really liked the other boy. They lay down, staring at the stars for a while before heading their separate ways, in search of their families. "Now, mind your manners and do try not to get a detention on the first day of school." Harry rolled his eyes as he grabbed his messenger bag from his closet. "Are you going to come bail me out if I do?" "For Merlin's sake, it's school not prison," Albus scoffed. "And I expect nothing less than straight A's from you as well. And if you get anything less than perfect in History, I have failed miserably as your grandfather." "And I've failed miserably as a vampire. Somehow, I think it's going to be harder to fail than it will be to pass." Albus frowned at him. "Is that really what they wear these days?" Harry turned from putting a notebook in his bag. He had dressed himself, he thought, very well in a pair of nice jeans a black V-neck shirt that what slightly tight, clinging to the light muscles in his chest. The pants were a little snug around his thighs, making his legs look longer. He laughed as he thought about kissing his baggy pants and shirts goodbye.

"Kids, they step out the door and think they're going to a fancy dress party," Albus laughed. Harry suspected that perhaps Albus knew better, since he'd spent a great deal of time on his new laptop, but this was an outfit that the shop assistant at the mall had him try on, so he was comfortable wearing it. Albus contemplated a picture on his laptop, before disappearing into the bathroom and coming back out with a bottle of something. Harry backed away. "No way, you're not putting one of your crazy concoctions on me today, Albus." "It's hair gel! I bought it at the market the other day. Watch this…" And before Harry could throw him off, he had poured some into his hands and mussed Harry's hair up, making it about twice as unruly as usual, not to mention a little wet. "What the hell Albus!" "Have you been making use of my book on slang then?" Albus chuckled. "Look! You look just like him, now!" Albus pointed to a random person on his laptop screen and apparently, a lot of people on the screen sported the same kind of hair. Harry mused, at least he wouldn't look out of place. "Albus, quit messing around. I need to leave," Harry said as he picked up his bag and flew down the stairs. "Alright," Albus sighed, as if Harry were deliberately destroying his fun. "Care for some blood pops for lunch?" Harry couldn't reply as Albus already poured a handful into Harry's bag. He rolled his eyes. "I'll see you later, Albus," Harry said as he made his way to the garage, getting in the Bugatti that he had washed just for the hell of it only a few hours before. Albus waved like a worried mother from the front porch as Harry drove away. The Cullens had arrived early. Edward hoped to catch Harry early, and Alice had readily agreed, hauling the rest of the family into Edward's Volvo. They waited outside the car, starring into the parking lot as the other students gradually began pouring in. As usual, the

received the usual awed and adoring looks from the general population before they walked into the school. Edward realized he didn't know what kind of car that Harry drove. He'd seen Albus' Rolls-Royce, so he expected that Harry was probably driving something equally impressive. He smirked when he thought about how the school would react to Harry's arrival. The Cullens were beautiful, to be sure. But Harry was ethereal. He could turn the heads of both boys and girls. Suddenly, they heard it. It was the smooth rumbling of a high-tech engine coming from around the corner, and Edward knew it was Harry. The car was coming fast, and before they knew it, a sleek silver and black Bugatti Veyron came zooming into the parking lot. Everyone stopped and starred as the beautiful car pulled through the parking lot, eventually finding a spot and parking directly across from the Cullens. Edward watched with a growing smile as Emmett's jaw dropped, and Rosalie's eyes widened comically. Alice seemed to have seen it however, because she didn't look surprised at all. Jasper merely observed the car as the black-haired boy opened the door and stood, pulling out a messenger bag with him. He looked around for a moment, catching the looks of the students around him before seeing the Cullens. He gave a small smile as he came towards them, nodding at Edward. "Dude, that's some car you got there!" Emmett crowed, edging towards the car. "I thought you were trying to stay under the radar?" Harry sighed. "It was Albus' idea. He thinks I need to act my age more often." "No offense, but I don't think it's possible to act seven thousand years old," Emmett whispered, laughing. Harry snorted. "Oh, Harry! I love your clothes!" Alice said, walking around him. Even Rosalie looked as if she appreciated how well he dressed. Harry smiled. He knew it. Albus was just trying to make him nervous. Jasper was still looking at him contemplatively, but he had lost a lot of the hostility that had pervaded his mood the other times they met.

They made their way into the school, Alice asking Harry if he shared any of their classes. Harry had stopped by the office on his way in, causing quite a stir with the older ladies. He pulled out his timetable and handed it to Alice, and she squealed as she learned they had Government together for first block, and then Harry and Edward had Biology after lunch. 'Of course. I spend my very first class with the fortune-teller. This will be interesting.' Edward snorted, and Harry turned to him with a smirk on his face. Alice looked confusedly between the two. Alice dragged Harry away to the Government class in one of the buildings with a large '3' on the front. She went immediately to the back of the classroom, and Harry made to take a seat next to her, thinking it might be a good idea to stick together. As he sat, she smiled minx-like at him. "What's Albus doing today?" She asked. Harry looked at her. "He's still blocking you then?" Alice sighed, mournfully. "Yes. You know, some people actually prefer knowing their futures." "And some people prefer to make it up as they go along." Alice stared hard at him. "I never see a set future unless you've already made up a decision for it to be so. Every time someone's choices or feelings change, I see something different. It's not like I'm making things happen when I see them. I'm just being… wellinformed." "Doesn't seem very reliable." Alice sighed. "It's not really. But it comes in handy most of the time." Harry nodded. "I don't really trust fortune tellers. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I had a bad experience with one when I was human. She kept foretelling a particularly gruesome death, and that was all she could see for me." "But you did die, though."

Harry smirked. "Not in the way she was expecting, I think." Alice laughed. She was glad something seemed to have changed to make him a little more open. Edward had told him about the conversation they had the night before. Maybe cause Harry now knew that they at least already knew about one of Harry's most fervent regrets regarding Didyme, that maybe he thought he could trust them a little bit more. Alice spent the entire period with her imaginings of what would happen if Harry and Edward really did get together. Alice wanted more than anything for Edward to be happy. The day continued without much fuss. Harry sat in the back of the classroom, mostly turning off any attention that was paid to him. He pretended to listen to the teachers, ignoring the students that sent him awed glances, and scribbling in his notebook to make it look like he might be taking notes. The period after Government was English, and after that was lunch. Harry went to the cafeteria once he'd collected his textbook from the teacher, being the last one to leave the classroom. He walked slowly out of the building and followed the rest of the students as they entered into the cafeteria. As he entered, he noticed that just about the entire vicinity went quite, all eyes turning on him. He raised a brow as he looked around. He saw Bella Swan sitting at a table close to him, looking very uncomfortable next to a girl that stared at him for a moment, before chattering on again about something meaningless. Harry was sympathetic towards Bella, but out of the corner of his eye, he saw Alice waving to him, beckoning him over to the table where the rest of the family was seated. The chair beside Edward was empty. Harry spared a wave at Bella before continuing towards the Cullen clan, pulling out the open seat and setting his things down. "Did you make a friend, Harry?" Alice asked, looking at Bella. "Bella Swan. I met her Saturday. Chief Swan came by the house and expressed an intention to introduce us, both being new and all. She's okay. She's a bit different from normal humans in that she doesn't like attention," He said, leaning his elbows on the table.

Rosalie sneered. "Don't you think you're a little old for her?" Harry cocked an eyebrow. "Did you know that in my time girls like you were considered ugly?" Edward and Jasper snorted. Alice looked she was holding in a laugh and Emmett was looking at Rosalie warily as if she were about to knock him sideways. Rose glared at Harry furiously, her hands clenching. Harry shrugged. "Just stating facts. Try not to insult me further, will you? I haven't the slightest interest in making friends with humans." Edward turned his head in the direction of the girl in question. She was starring at them. Edward heard her ask the girl to her left about them. Edward frowned when the verbal intercourse was all he could hear. Harry noticed the look. "What's wrong?" He asked. Edward shook his head, eyes still boring into the girl. Jessica Stanley was still filling her in on the details of the family. "What's she saying?" Emmett asked quietly. "Filling her in on the Cullen clan." Edward smiled tightly, still working out why he was suffering a block. Albus was no where around, so it wasn't possible that he was blocking him again, and even so, why would he block the thoughts of a human girl? "Who's the red-haired one?" Bella asked. "Edward Cullen. He's gorgeous isn't he? He doesn't date though. I guess none of the girls here are good enough for him," Jessica sniffed. Harry heard that, turning to Edward. "Is that so?" Edward gave Harry a sly look. Harry pursed his lips and looked towards the girl. "I think she likes you." "I have no interest in human girls." "Probably not in the way that I'm implying, more or less."

Edward turned back to the girl. She was still starring. 'Why can't I hear you?' Harry stared at the frown on Edward's face as he regarded the girl. What was with all the attention being paid to her all of a sudden? If he wasn't interested in her, then what was he doing staring at her? Harry turned away from him, looking at the bored looks of the other members of the table. Rose was still glaring at him. He smirked wickedly at her. 'Get used to it, princess.' Edward snorted again. Harry and Edward split from the group to make their way to Biology. They made it there fast enough to be two of the first students in there. They took a table towards the back of the class, adhering to the system that Harry had invented for himself. When you were in the back of the class, it was harder for people to look at you. Harry placed his bag on the table, frowning at Edward. "Something bothering you?" He asked quietly. Edward sighed, frustrated at having to admit to a weakness in front of Harry. "I can't read her mind," He whispered quickly. "Not at all?" Harry asked, surprised. "It's not even like it is with Albus, when he only skews things. It's nonexistent. Literally it's as if she's not thinking at all." "Has this happened before?" "Not once," Edward said, frustrated. "I'm sure it makes no difference, either way," Harry said as he took his set. "From what I've observed, you could probably tell what she's thinking just by looking at her." Edward leaned back, sighing. He was more frustrated that his occupation with Bella Swan was distracting him from his time with Harry. But it heartened him when he saw the faintly concerned look the boy was giving him. "I have a question for you."

"Uh oh," Harry leaned his head on the table, peering sideways up at Edward, his black-hair fanning on the desk. Edward thought he looked completely adorable. "I know Albus has his power to change his appearance, block and absorb other's powers, and probably more… what can you do?" He asked, wondering if Harry would actually answer his question. Harry smiled bitterly. "Perhaps, if you're very unlucky, you'll find out one day." The bell rang as the teacher entered, directly behind him was Bella Swan and Mike Newton, Edward observed. They took the seats that were open in the front of the classroom. "Alright class… My name is Mr. Banner for Advanced Biology…." Harry noticed Bella turn in her seat, eyeing Edward for a moment before waving at him again. He waved back before turning his attention to the teacher again, or at least pretending to. "…Now in order to learn your names better, I'm going to ask that you all stand along the walls so I can assign seats." He began calling out names as they reached the wall. Harry was called first, and much to his dismay, he was seated up front and center with none other than Mike Newton. The boy immediately introduced himself. Harry shook his hand and Mike flinched when he felt his cold hands. Harry withdrew with a roll of his eyes. "Edward Cullen and Bella Swan… right here please." Oh, he's going to be thrilled about that,Harry laughed in his head. Mr. Varner made his way to the front of the class and started upon a lecture of classroom rules and whatnot, opening the windows in the front of the class to relieve them of the hot humid atmosphere. Then, Harry heard a choking noise, very faint coming from behind him. He heard marble hands start to grip the wood of a desk and the chair slide a little. He discretely turned his head to see what was going on. No one else would have been able to notice it. He saw Bella with her hair curtaining around her face, looking very

red, shooting looks to her right where Edward sat… looking absolutely livid, glaring down at the desk, leaning as far away from the girl as the desk would let him. Harry saw that Edward's hand had broken off a piece of the desk. Harry narrowed his eyes, and sucked his teeth, causing Edward to look up. Harry was taken aback by the panicked and angry and… lustful black eyes. Harry remembered how good Bella smelled at the coffee shop. Could it be that such an allure was too much for the other vampire? Edward was shooting him pleading looks, all the while he body tensing every time Bella made even the slightest movement. No way the smell that Harry got from her would cause that kind of reaction. The Cullens had been living on animal blood for a long time, it seemed. Surely Edward would be able to control himself enough to overcome it. But Harry recognized the crazed and needy look in Edward's eyes. He'd had it himself a few times, crazy with blood-lust, no way to throw off the need to quench the unbearable thirst. 'Oh shit.' Bella was Edward's singer. Harry only hoped that Edward would be able to last the whole rest of the class.

Five: Where do you go when you're Gone? Though Harry was forced to stare at the front of the room for the teacher's lecture, his attention rested completely on Bella and Edward. He'd flicked his hair a few times for an excuse to look back at Edward, who would meet his gaze if only for a brief distraction to keep him from draining the new girl dry. Harry could imagine how horrible her father would feel. He'd been so happy to have her with him. Harry spared a look at Bella, and despite the severity of the situation, it was almost comical to see her try to figure out what exactly she had done to offend Edward so. She sniffed her hair and her jacket and anything she could discretely sniff to see if she smelled bad. That's not the problem, darling, Harry thought. Every movement she made,

even if it were the mere exhalation of air, Edward would stiffen further. Harry admired Edward's ability to hold himself together in the middle of a room of humans. In a second, he could kill Bella and everyone else in the room and no one would be the wiser. Harry had known greater and older vampires that had done that exact thing just to get at the singer. He eyed the clock. Suddenly, the time seemed to have slowed to an almost unbearable speed. He glared at the ticking contraption, telling them that they still had fifteen minutes longer of class. 'Fifteen more minutes. You're gonna make it.' Harry thought, flicking his hair in Edward's direction. He caught Edward's head bowing in recognition of Harry's thought before coming up again. Harry was greatly disturbed by the pained look on Edward's face. Harry wished he could be more like Albus at that point. It might help Edward if he were able to focus on something else, perhaps something humorous. Unfortunately, that was Albus' forte. Harry sighed again, leaning back in his seat, trying to think of something that might make distract the poor vampire. He closed his eyes and grumbled, turning to look at the vampire again. Edward looked desperate for something to chain himself to. Harry tried to think of something shocking… he bit his lip. 'Do you happen to know Jane and Alec?' Harry asked, keeping his eyes on the vampire. When he saw his head twitch, he smirked and turned around, looking to the front. 'You can't tell anyone, because I'm only telling you out of pity and I can't think of anything else remarkable at the moment,' He heard wood breaking underneath the other's hands. He rolled his eyes. 'First time I ever met them, they both fell madly in love with me,' Edward exhaled slightly, egging him on. 'Course, they are extremely young and to be perfectly honest, quite self-absorbed. Jane actually tried to torture me into loving her. You can bet Albus had fun watching that little escapade,' Harry thought he might have heard a strained snort behind him. 'I'm afraid it rather had the opposite affect of the one she intended. Needless to say, she couldn't look me in the eyes for weeks. They both still followed me around like puppy dogs

though. Aro wasn't pleased, but you can bet I did everything I could to make them focus on something else. I gave myself a pig-nose, and they thought I was flirting with them. Completely barmy.' Harry continued his ramblings about his escapades with Jane and Alec and Albus' endless amusement with the whole situation, hearing Edward calm down the slightest bit, but even those remarks couldn't completely deter Edward from wanting to grab Bella by the neck and sink his teeth in. Edward snickered painfully at Harry, glad for some kind of distraction. He knew Harry had been looking for something shocking… but Jane and Alec? Edward almost groaned as the scent engulfed his senses again. He tried not to look up for fear of someone other than Harry seeing his eyes completely black. God, why did she keep moving her hair? Edward listened intently on Harry's every thought, and watched every twitch of his beautiful black hair, every pursing of his perfect red lips, every facet of emerald green in his eyes. But every little perfection in Harry's appearance was accompanied by the outrageously pungent scent coming from the clueless girl next to him. Edward hated her for that. Harry rambled until the last second of the clock had run out, and the bell rang finally. Harry watched as Edward bolted from the room as fast as he could without giving himself up, disappearing out the door before the bell even finished ringing. Harry tried not to glare at Bella as he gathered his books and started to head out after the other vampire, but his new 'friend' wouldn't give him up so easily. "What class do you have next?" Mike Newton asked, a sweet boyish smile on his face. Harry looked at his schedule. "Gym," He said. "Hey! That's my next class. We can go together if you want? Hey Bella!" Harry watched as the girl that had almost been sucked dry by Edward came toward them, her face as ashen as if he had succeeded without even touching her.

"Hey Harry," She smiled hesitantly. Harry returned it tightly, turning and walking out of the room, Mike and Bella behind him. "Have you already met, then?" Mike asked, trying to keep up with Harry's fast strides. Bella walked on Harry's other side, sparing glances at him every few seconds. "We met at the bookstore in Port Angeles. My dad had already met him," Bella explained. "Ah," Mike smiled. "By the way, Bella. What exactly did you do to Edward Cullen?" Bella looked down, blushing slightly. "I have no idea," She mumbled. Harry continued his silence, even though from the way Bella looked at him it was clear that since he was sitting with him at lunch he might be able to offer some insight. "He looked like maybe you'd stabbed him with a pencil or something. Oh well. Cullen's a weird guy anyway. The whole family is pretty out there. I wouldn't worry about it." Bella walked a little closer to Harry. "Do you know what was wrong with him?" She asked, looking slightly embarrassed at the question. Harry spared her a look from the corner of his eye. She looked thoroughly shaken, and while Harry didn't know exactly what was going to come of this revelation of Edward's, he felt immensely sorry for the selfless girl who liked her privacy. Harry made it a point to always never associate with humans, because even if he chose a different lifestyle, humans were only food for his kind, nothing else. But something irked him about this one girl. Edward couldn't read her mind, and on top of that she was his singer. Harry wondered exactly how far her blocking of powers went, or if only Edward's powers were affected. Harry turned forward again as they reached the gym, and were about to part to go to their separate locker rooms. "He's had a very exasperating day. Nothing personal, I'm sure," He said, and Bella looked a little reluctant to believe it. Afterall, the way that Edward had looked at her suggested that she might have been the devil in disguise.

She nodded, nevertheless, smiling again. "If you're sure. I'll see you in a little while." Harry nodded as well, and turned to see Mike Newton looking a little put out that her attention had been thwarted away from him. Harry pretended not to notice as Mike escorted him into the boy's locker room. Along the floors were boxes of new gym uniforms, shirts and shorts, arranged in order of size. Harry pulled the small pair and eyed them distastefully. What was worse was that every time he mistakenly looked up, he promptly got an eye-full. Edward sat in his car, eyes closed and hands clenched on his lap. He had been so close to destroying that girl, right in front of the entire class. Right in front of Harry. Edward was furious with himself for almost giving him. He had smelled her fear, and felt her blood pumping through her veins, and every swish of her hair beside him. He'd held his breath, unconcerned with the fact that someone might notice that he wasn't breathing. He remembered her furtive glances at his face. Edward growled low in his throat. Carlisle had been so sure of Edward's ability to contain himself, but at the moment when the wind blew through the girl's hair, Edward knew he would live to prove Carlisle wrong. It was completely unethical, but he hated her. He had it planned out in his head. He would tried to keep his calm as he introduced himself, and ask to walk her to her next class. He'd tell her that he forgot a book in his car, and he would charm her into following him, and without any spectators, he would kill her, and vacate her body of that wonderful fluid that refused to leave him alone, even as only a memory. But he didn't. Because something had pulled him back to himself. Harry calmed him down, ever so slightly, but enough to distract him enough to make it through the rest of the class. Edward wondered how Harry would have dealt with a singer. Even the Volturi had a hard time coping with singers. Harry couldn't be much different, could he? Edward doubted that Harry would think less of him if he had gone through with the schemes he'd been concocting in his head before Harry broke through with the story of him, Jane, and Alec. Edward's eyes widened for a second, and then he promptly burst out laughing. He hadn't been able to appreciate humor in Harry's little

anecdote, but since Edward had calmed himself down enough to think back into the time in the classroom… He collapsed into laughs. He felt bad. He knew Harry had told him that only as a way of distracting him, and he knew it was probably something that Harry didn't like telling from the completely cynicism in his voice as he spoke… But Jane falling head over heels in love with Harry was something he just couldn't hold together. Imagining the horrid little Jane trying to torture Harry into liking her, and absolute fury he was sure that Harry had unleashed upon the little girl, with Alec standing off to the side, completely heart-broken… If anyone had been standing in parking lot, or even only close to it, they would have witnessed Edward Cullen, the ice prince, completely crack. Bella stood awkwardly to one side of the volleyball nets. It was just her luck that she was going to be playing volleyball on the first day of school. Several of the girls were looking at her and whispering to their friends. She frowned, irritated that they seemed to be completely uncaring that she could both see and hear them. She watched as the boys finally made their way onto the court. She made out Mike as he waved at her happily, making his way towards her. Not far behind him, she saw Harry… beautiful Harry… walking to one side of the court to lean against the bleachers. She couldn't understand how Harry could look so much like the Cullens yet not be related to them. Everyone had said that Harry was new in the town, but he seemed to have already made friends with them. She had to admit, Harry was beautiful in all sense of the word. She saw him as somehow he managed to make the horrible grey and red gym uniforms look fashionable. The silky black hair that brushed his shoulders, the small uniform clung to his lithe muscles, and his angular face made him look every bit like a young God. Even his voice was beautiful. She'd been intrigued when she saw both of them in her Biology class, and together they interacted in a way that was completely different from the way that Harry had acted towards the rest of the family. Bella noticed the slightly tense way Harry interacted with the rest of the Cullens, but around Edward, he seemed more relaxed. They were

beautiful apart, but together… they were perfect. Bella couldn't explain it, but her heart almost broke as she thought it. The gym teacher came in and announced time for warm-ups. All the girls watched for where Harry stood in the lineup, and fought for the spots behind him. Harry's graceful body moved through the stretched so smoothly that Bella almost completely forgot how horrible she was at them, and proceeded to fall on her face no less than five times. Mike helped her up, but her attention kept falling on Harry. …along with every other girl and guy in the gym. After the stretches, the coach put them in teams. Bella was happy that Harry ended up on her team. "Fair warning, I'm quite a hazard when it comes to sports," She tried to joke as Harry walked over. "You'd do best if you stayed far away from me." Harry nodded. "Is there anything you're not a hazard at, Miss Swan?" Bella melted as his British accent floated past his lips, but the actual words shook her out of it. "Uh…excuse me?" Harry laughed. "Never mind. It wasn't meant to offend. I'm sure you can't help it." Before Bella could get even more confused, the coach passed the ball to their team, and Harry caught it easily in his hands. He held it out to her. "You can't be that bad." Bella glared at him as she took the ball. He would definitely be regretting that. Harry made his way to his car after class. He hadn't actually expected the girl to be serious about her sporting abilities, but her serving was almost lethal. The coach had all but asked her to sit out after she hit a third person in the head with the ball. Harry laughed at the hilarity of it all. The girl was a complete menace, and she wasn't even trying to be. As he made his way to the car, ahead of most of the school, he noticed the entire Cullen clan making their way to Edward's Volvo.

Harry saw that the boy in question was already inside. Perhaps he had stayed there for the entire day, dreading another run in with the infamous Bella Swan. He met Harry's eyes through the window of the car. Harry shook his head, indicating that Bella Swan had not started on her way to the parking lot yet. Edward nodded. As soon as the rest of the Cullens entered the car, Edward took off, a trail of misty dust behind him. Harry watched as the car screeched around the corner and onto the road as he walked to his own car. Edward must have been extremely shaken to act in such a manner. If Harry was right, and the fervent amount of surprise and all out anger from Edward on the matter told him that he was, this was Edward's first experience with a singer. Harry caught the smell on the wind again, and saw Bella making her way out of the building and towards the parking lot, alone and looking very downtrodden. She made her way to a rusty looking truck parked a fair distance from Harry. He watched as she threw her backpack into the truck bed and tripped as she walked around to the driver's side door. Something about her intrigued Harry, but he wasn't very inclined to show it. He needed to talk to Albus. He knew at least his friend would offer a perspective that didn't involve killing her right away. As soon as Harry entered the house, he was greeted with very odd sounding music coming from the kitchen. He came across Albus standing over a cauldron boiling atop the stove with his laptop playing next to him. "Al, what are you doing?" Harry asked. "Experimenting." Harry rolled his eyes. It had been a while since Albus had been in the frame of mind to go back to working on concocting anything. Albus, as he had told the Cullens, had indeed been something of a witch doctor when he was human, and he carried his knowledge and talent for it over once he was changed. He was quite good a medicines and the like, and Harry was pleased to see that he was back at it again. "I see. And I suppose you're not going to tell what it is until you're

done?" "Right you are, Harry," Albus turned to him. "You're smelling particularly delicious today, Harry…" Harry sighed. "Listen, there's something I've got to tell you, but I'm not sure how severe the situation is." Albus took the cauldron off the heat and turned to Harry, folding his arms. "Oh really?" "I didn't eat someone, Albus," He cleared up, and Albus relaxed but only slightly. "It's nothing that really affects us, I don't think. There's a girl at school, Charlie Swan's daughter, and she seems to be able to block Edward's power." Albus looked intrigued. "Is that so?" Albus always had an eye for abnormalities, much like Aro. But Albus' interest didn't lie in taming that power. He was more interested in the analytical aspect of it. "And she's human?" "Completely," Harry answered. "But there's more." "How can there not be?" Albus smiled, eyes twinkling. "She's Edward Cullen's singer." Albus' twinkling abruptly stopped, and a dark frown stretched cross his face. "Oh dear… did he kill her?" "Not yet. He almost did though." "Is his control that good?" "I distracted him a bit." Albus' lips twitched. "Oh did you?" Harry didn't like the mysterious amusement behind Albus' eyes. He knew it had something to do with him, and he didn't like it when his friend kept secrets from him. "What exactly did you do?" "I might have mentioned a few humorous tales about Jane and Alec." That must not have been what Albus was expecting, because his brows shot up quickly before a small snort escaped him.

Harry fumed. "I'm not as good at thinking up distractions as you are. I just tried to think of something funny and there it was. It worked, didn't it?" "It must have," Albus mused teasingly. Harry put his hands on his hips, wondering why Albus was suddenly in such a playful mood. "What did you think I mean when I said I distracted him?" "Haven't the foggiest. I'm just thinking about how lucky it was that you were there to… 'distract' him." Harry glared, pinching the bridge of his nose in irritation. "Albus, I fear that our ability to communicate has suddenly become hindered, and I would like to know why." "All in due time, good friend. How well did your little monologue help?" Albus was going to try to change the subject, but Harry did not like how suddenly he found himself in the dark. He would find out sooner or later. He just wished he could borrow Edward's power for a moment, before he realized that it would be no good because Albus would merely block it. He growled. The old man was as infuriating a person as they come, and Harry had been stuck with him since he was born. It was a miracle he wasn't as barmy as the old man by now. "It helped only a little. I could tell Edward was trying to concentrate on my thoughts as best he could but the girl was right beside him, not two feet from him." "So he can't hear her thoughts, her blood sings to him, prompting him to kill her, and she was sitting within arms reach of him?" "Yes." "Providence has such a way of messing with our kind. But I believe you are right that there is something to be learned from the young lady. I do hope she lives long enough for us to find out." "You want her alive then?" "I'm not familiar with the way that the Cullen's deal with their singers. It could be that they pick up and move when such a thing happens. It

could be a possibility seeing as how they typically settle in an area and are very well known in town. Killing her would lead to an investigation. Not to mention how heartbroken Mr. Swan will be if she dies. Poor man was so happy that she'd come to stay with him. Such a tragedy." Harry and Albus had a very good appreciation for human life. Albus felt the loss of any life at all was a deep tragedy and while Harry did not physically feel it as Albus did, it would indeed be grieveous that Bella Swan should die so soon after arriving. "Alas, as we are not in the position that young Edward is in, perhaps we should have no say in the matter. Perhaps her powers are just a fluke, and we need not worry about it," Albus turned back to the cauldron, and exhaled in disappointment when he found it was ruined. The next day Harry was surprised to see, not Edward's Volvo, but an overly large jeep pull into the parking lot. Harry hadn't had a chance to speak with any of the Cullens the day before. He figured that perhaps Edward needed some down time with his family to get himself together. He hadn't expected Albus to be right, and Edward to have flown the coup. Emmett signaled him over as they all climbed out of the car. The only spot the car could actually fit was at the most remote corner of the parking lot, where no cars were parked. Harry strolled over, noticing Bella Swan watching him as a boy with very bad acne escorted her to the door. Little miss popular, Harry thought. When he reached the car, Emmett gave him a small smile. "What's up, short stuff." Harry rolled his eyes. "Where's Edward?" "Alaska," Alice said sadly. "He left right after school. Hardly said a word to any of us. Just dropped us off, told Carlisle where he was going, and took off." Harry nodded. "For how long?" "He hasn't decided yet." Harry groaned when he remembered Alice's visions were subjective

to what the person's chooses were. "Did you tell Albus?" Alice asked. He nodded again. "He wants to observe her a bit more. He was a little shocked when I told him Edward couldn't hear her thoughts. We've never heard of a human being able to block powers before. He wants to know if it's only Edward's powers that she can block." "I've seen visions of her, so it's not all powers. Jasper hasn't tried anything yet." "What do you see about Bella?" Harry asked. "When he told me… I saw him kill Bella. But I also saw him leaving to Alaska. Obviously he chose the latter." "Obviously, he's not going to kill her. He knows that if he does we're going to have to move. I'm not going to be starting my junior year all over again," Rosalie sniffed, and Harry turned his attention on her. Her self-righteous attitude reminded him strongly of someone that he was not prepared to think about right then. "Well, it's a good thing he went to Alaska so you won't have to deal with ramifications of any other action," Harry said quietly, glaring at her. Rosalie met his stare furiously, and though Harry was at least a foot shorter than her, he held his ground admirably, smirking into her face. "What exactly is your problem with me, little boy?" "Does your mother know your out, princess?" Harry asked, throwing her relative age as compared to him in her face. Emmett wrapped an arm around her waist, holding her back. "Come on you two. You keep this up, I'll send you both to bed without dinner." "I knew someone like you darling. She always thought that everything was always about her, and when the attention wasn't on her, then she became virtually unlivable, much like yourself. She thought that just because she was abnormally beautiful, that everyone should have given her deference. Your brother has left so that he doesn't do

something that will expose you. Instead of thinking that somehow you are entitled to force him out of his own house, maybe you should be thankful he took you into consideration at all." Rosalie gaped like a fish. Harry was satisfied. "Pray tell me. Have you ever had an experience with a singer?" She didn't speak, but Harry got his answer anyway in the affronted look on her face. "I simply can't wait the observe what you do when it happens to you." He turned to Emmett, Alice, and Jasper. "I'm sorry about your brother," He turned and made his way into the school. Alice kissed Jasper on the cheek before following after Harry to go to their first class. Lunch was an awkward ordeal. Rosalie and Harry glared at each other while Alice and Emmett tried to draw their attention to something else. Jasper was actually slightly amused. Hardly anyone had stood up to Rosalie in a long time, other than Edward, and that was only occasionally. He had felt Rosalie's shock at Harry's reaction to her, obviously hoping that he would be like any other boy and pay respect where she thought it was due. But Harry was not just any other boy. That much was clear. He was defensive, smart, likeable at times, humorous, but above all else, Jasper felt the mysteriousness of a harsh past from him. From what Jasper had been able to gather, Harry had a past… relationship that he didn't like talking about, and that he felt a fair amount of animosity towards, he had lost great friends when Aro had Didyme killed and all but forced Marcus to stay with him. He had a mysterious past, but something told Jasper that Harry had a lot more looming in his past than he let on. Both Harry and Albus. Jasper, also, had yet to find out what the mysterious conversation between Albus, Edward, and Alice was. He had felt confusing feelings from Edward. Mostly confusion, hope, admiration, and something bubbling right under the surface that he was having a hard time cornering. Either way, Jasper had a feeling that this whole scenario with Bella

could only have one result. And that was the girl's death. He'd kill her himself, if Edward didn't. Edward wouldn't stay in Alaska forever. He would come back, and the scent would return to him, just as potent if not more so. Yes. Jasper would kill her, just to make sure that Alice, and his family, safe. Harry sat by Mike Newton in Biology once again, and Bella sat by herself due to the absence of her tablemate. Harry saw her eyeing the empty seat with a mixture of disappointment and relief. Harry had made an assumption that perhaps she'd formed a crush on the other vampire. If that were the case, Harry felt sorry for Edward, because his plight was about to get a lot more complicated should he decide to come back. Edward had mentioned that Alaska was where Eleazar and his new coven lived. Harry hadn't known Eleazar especially well, but he was likeable enough. He had a particular gift for sensing the powers of other vampires, and that made him particularly valuable to Aro. With Eleazar, Aro didn't have to look quite so hard for vampires with talent. As Biology and gym class passed, Harry found himself face to face with Bella Swan when he came out of the boy's locker room. She just been passing the door when Harry emerged. She smiled at him, and he nodded at her. "Bella. How are you today?" "I'm okay. I have to go to the grocery store today to get some food for Charlie. I all but starved last night with some of the stuff he had in the pantry," She laughed. "Hmm. My grandfather isn't much of a cook. Mostly we just order out," Harry chuckled to himself. Bella smiled. Some girls called across from Bella, waving and smiling. Bella shyly waved back, and a few boys called to her to, wishing her goodbye. "You're quite popular, for the new girl," Harry observed. "I wish I wasn't. They never leave me alone. It's kind of uncomfortable since I'm a little… socially awkward."

"You seem to do well enough." Bella shrugged. "I'd rather just stay at home and read a book or something." "You prefer reading to socializing?" This human went against the norm in a way that might be considered illegal by most teenagers. Bella nodded, blushing. "What do you like to read?" Harry asked. Bella's blush darkened. "Mostly… romance novels." Harry should have guessed. Girls with their heads in the clouds, staring after the attractive boys in the school, hoping that they'll end up being their own personal Mr. Darcy* or some such nonsense. Bella seemed to register the look. "What do boys your age read anyway?" "History." Bella sighed. "Figures." Harry turned to her. "History is a combination of all genres, darling. And best of all, it's realistic. Trust me, the truth is always ten times better than the rumors." Six days had passed, nearly a week since Edward had driven hours from Washington all the way to Alaska. Six days he'd spent brooding over what he was to do about the Swan girl. He couldn't stay away forever, that much was for sure. Before, Edward might have left for the three years it would take for Bella to leave school. But he would not be able to stay away that long. Not when Harry was still in Forks. He'd wanted to call him, tell him what was going on, but frankly, the last two days that Harry and Edward had become a little closer wasn't enough to convince Edward of what their relationship actually was. They were at least friends, Edward thought. Harry trusted him enough with some things that he hadn't told the rest of his family. That showed a certain amount of partiality on Harry's part.

Truth to be told, while Edward had tried concentrated on what he would do about Bella, his mind had been more engaged about what he would do about Harry. He had to tell his family, or at least Carlisle what exactly was going on with him and Harry, or at least, what he hoped was going on between them. Alice had done a better job than expected at keep Edward's secret, but he didn't want to cause any excitement until he knew that it was a possibility. Edward knew that he really liked Harry, as more than just good company, anyway. The past few days with Harry were the happiest days he'd had since he could remember. Tanya's never-ending flirtations were grating on him though. He had affection for her, but he had to admit that it paled in comparison to what he felt when he was around Harry. Just being near Harry was almost intoxicating, and the memory of Alice's vision tortured him endlessly. He spent the day laying on a bank of snow, spread-eagle, watching the flurrying snowflakes fall around him. His eyes closed when he thought of all the reasons that he had for staying and the one reason he had for leaving for good. He knew that if he chose to leave for good, then his family would follow him. The same could not be said for Harry… and Albus. That settled it, then. He would go back. He would face his trial and he wouldn't buckle under the pressure. Part of it was so he wouldn't let down his father's perfect image of him, but most of it was because of Harry. It would be pretty impressive to any vampire if one could resist the scent of a singer, especially sitting right next to one. But it was also foolish to try. But Harry had been able to distract him well enough to hold out. Perhaps if he could get through the first week, the rest wouldn't be quite as hard. He had a talk with Eleazar a few days after he'd arrived and managed to calm himself down. Eleazar had told him that he hadn't known Harry very well. Mostly Harry and Albus stayed around the Aro, Caius, Marcus, and the wives, but he was very well known in Volterra. Edward had asked about Jane and Alec, and Eleazar had very laughingly reported that Harry had tried very hard to deter their affections, but even now they still carried the most adoration for the boy. Harry cared a little better for Alec than for Jane, but had made it

clear time and again that there was nothing between then… either of them. Edward had laughed and told Eleazar that he had met Albus and Harry, as they had moved close to them in Washington. Eleazar had been shocked, since neither hide nor hair of either of them had been seen in over 500 years. But Edward's perfect description of them made it clear that they were indeed in Forks. He had asked Eleazar to not tell the Volturi, and Eleazar had comfortingly said that he had not been in touch with the Volturi since he'd left them to be with Carmen. Eleazar said that Harry was very defensive among people he wasn't familiar with, but among people like Albus, Didyme, Marcus, Aro, Caius, and the people that had the pleasure of knowing him well, he was all smiles and a free-spirit, as well as completely sarcastic and cynical at times. Edward eyed his phone that rested on his stomach. He had the urge to call Carlisle, and maybe even Harry, to tell them of his decision to return. Rosalie wouldn't be happy with his decision as far as Bella Swan went, but he couldn't bring himself to care at the moment. Six days was a long time to be away from the object of your affections. He had Harry's number from the first night he'd had direct interaction with him that day after the mall. He opened the phone, debating with himself as he typed the number, hesitating before pressing send. He held it to his ear. "Hello?" "Harry?" "Yes?" "This is Edward." "I noticed." Edward frowned. "How?" "I recognize voices," A wry voice answered. Edward laughed nervously. "Oh. Right." "Are you still in Alaska?"

Edward sighed. He was always certainly to the point. "Yes, but I'll be back soon." "What about Bella Swan?" "Are you up to distracting me again?" "I don't suppose this is just a ploy to get more embarrassing information from me?" He laughed again. "I think I can handle it. Have you ever tried to resist a singer?" "Yes." "Does it get easier?" "No." Edward sighed, downtrodden. "But you should come back anyway. Your family misses you, and I'm tired of dealing with that horrible sister of yours." "Alice or Rosalie?" "The blonde." He smiled. "Did really need the entire six days just to decide that you're going to stick it out." "I might have liked the sight seeing. Have you ever been to Alaska, Harry?" He liked saying his name. "I admit, that is one of the few places I've never been." "Then perhaps you should have come with me." "I'm afraid Albus might have died of boredom without me there for him to pick on. Might have painted my room purple with yellow stars and transformed my library into a playground just to amuse himself." "Perhaps," Edward conceded, even though he had very limited experience with the madness of Albus Dumbledore.

"I do love the snow though." Edward smiled. "There's plenty of snow to be had up here." "Are you going to be coming back or are you trying to convince me to come up there?" "Just stating facts, as you say." "Hmmm… Albus has been wanting to meet the girl, but he's been biding his time until you get back. No use getting his hopes up until he knows that she's going to be around long enough to observe completely." "Trust me. I've regained some lost control. Plus, I have a newfound reason to not want to kill her." "And what is that?" Because if I kill her, that means that we'll have to leave sooner rather than later, and I want every second afforded to me to be with you. "Practice," He said innocently. "Funny." "I'll probably back sometime tomorrow morning." "See you at school then." Edward smiled as he hung up the phone, slightly giddy as he called Carlisle. He pulled himself up from the snow, imagining bringing Harry up there one day, and spending all day with him, just himself, Harry, and the snow. He made his way to Tanya's house, and from there to his car, hitting over 120 mph on the deserted snowy highway.

Six: I Walk A Maze of Moments Harry hung up the phone, not waiting for an answer from Edward, laying the phone down on the coffee table in his library. He honestly hadn't anticipated it taking quite so long for Edward to make up his mind.

He'd been fending off Mike Newton and Jessica Stanley for the past two days. They're incessant hopes of him joining them on trips to the beach and to the movies was starting to grate on him. Luckily, or unluckily… he wasn't quite sure yet, Bella Swan seemed to share his social phobia. Aside from the fact that Harry found her overly nervous and flighty, she had her bouts of wit from time to time, which Harry appreciated. At least she wasn't stupid. She had been working with Mike and Harry on two of the labs they'd had. While Mike sat uselessly off to the side, Bella always at least wanted to help, and Harry was content that he didn't have to correct her work every time. Having two classes with her, it was obvious that he had to make certain conversation. Harry was surprised when she seemed to prefer his company over any of the others in either class. He caught her staring at the Cullen's table wistfully during lunch. Harry wondered what kind of interest she had in the Cullens, other than their unnaturally good looks. Especially when she seemed to be so popular already. Or it could just be him. Harry blew air into his bangs. For everyone's sake, he certainly hoped not. She was smart and curious. Harry didn't usually like either feat in humans, especially not together. But unlike the others, Harry was having a hard time disliking her. "Was that Edward?" Albus slipped into the room, browsing the shelves in the library. "Yes. He's decided to return indefinitely." "Is he so confident in his ability to restrain himself?" Albus picked up the newspaper on the desk next to Harry. "He asked for my help on that point, at least during Biology." "Going to distract him with more humorous anecdotes about your love life?" Harry smirked at the old man. "I'm sure I'll find something else. Perhaps that time when that old woman from Norway fell in love with you and refused to leave the house until we called the authorities."

"I'm afraid I don't recollect anything of the sort," Albus feigned ignorance. It was one of the only times that Harry had ever actually seen Albus looking uncomfortable. "Yes. You do have a habit of conveniently forgetting emotionally scarring points in your life," Harry grumbled. "But whenever it comes to me, suddenly you have the memory of an elephant." "I do miss those letters Alec used to send you. He had such talent with a pen." "Because he didn't know where to send the letters." Albus sighed, a secret smile playing on his lips. "One day Harry, you'll learn to care about someone that way, and then you'll have to bite your tongue." "Amidst your less than successful matchmaking plans, Albus, I think my standards are far too high for anyone to compete with." Albus regarded Harry with amused eyes, and once again, Harry was annoyed. "My dear Harry… we shall see." The reverent silence that followed was broken by Albus' phone. Oh, I'm a Gummy Bear Yes, I'm a Gummy Bear! Oh, I'm a Yummy, Chummy, Funny, Lucky Gummy Bear. Don't call me jelly bear, Cuz I'm a Gummy bear…. Harry turned to Albus bearing an incredulous look on his face. "What in hell is that?" Albus smiled. "It's my new ringtone! Don't you like it?" He fumbled through his pockets for his phone, pulling it out and rocking his head back and forth. Oh I'm a movin', groovin', Jammin', Singin' Gummy Bear Harry was thankful when it finally cut off. Albus smiled affectionately at the phone before pocketing it again. Harry blanched. "You know, the point of having a phone, Al, is that

you actually answer when people call." "Yes, well the last few times I've picked up the phone, people I don't know have tried to sell me things. I find that once I let the first call pass, only people that have a legitimate reason for calling will actually call again." Oh, I'm a Gummy Bear Yes, I'm a Gummy Bear! "And there we are," Albus answered the phone this time. "Hello?" "Hello? Yes, I was wondering if I could perhaps speak with a Mr. Albus Dumbledore." Harry frowned, thinking he might have heard a slight accent, but his limited experience with phones told him that voices were slightly altered over the telephone wires. "That's me! May I ask who is speaking?" Albus' eyes twinkled, and Harry had a suspicion that he knew exactly who was speaking. "Albus, it's Craig." "My boy, it's been ages!" Albus cried, and Harry chuckled. It had only been two weeks. "I have bad news, Albus." The voice sounded slightly nervous. "Oh? Nothing too grievous, I hope?" Albus frowned. Harry moved slightly closer. What could possibly be wrong now? "Nothing too grievous for you. I don't suppose Harry is anywhere nearby?" Harry couldn't think of many things that would affect him differently than it would Albus, and even less of which Craig would know about. He locked eyes with Albus, and the man seemed to have formed the same conclusion. Harry took the phone from Albus, and pressed it to his ear. "You'd better not be referring to what I think you are, Craig." There was a silence on the other line, and Harry's eyes slipped

closed, and a horrible sinking feeling in his empty stomach. He opened to see Albus, contemplating him with sympathetic eyes. "Harry, I—" Craig's voice sounded once again over the phone. "Unacceptable," Harry growled, and dropped the phone, Albus zipping forward to catch it before it hit the floor. He gave a warning look to his friend before flying out of the house, the door slamming behind him. Albus watched as the trees seemed to part for the boy as he disappeared deeper into the morning air. He held the phone back up to his ear. "How much time?" "They're on their way." Harry was late to school, for some unknown reason. Edward was anxious to see him and waited until mere minutes before the bell rang to race to class, disappointed. He had been even more disappointed to see Bella Swan's old truck in the parking lot, but he had yet to see her in person yet. He'd thought about trying to change classes, but knew that it would probably be no use. Required classes were always the worst to try to get switched around. He and Emmett muddled through gym class first block. Emmett's throws were deadly, so most of them he aimed at Edward, hoping to be too fast for him to block it. Unfortunately, it was impossible to catch Edward off guard. The whistle blew, signaling time for them to change and get to their next class. "Sooo…?" Emmett prodded as they changed into their school clothes. "Did you see Tanya while you were gone?" "You know I did, Em," Edward answered. "She try to jump you again?" He smirked teasingly. "She has never tried to jump me," Edward retorted as he pulled on his shirt. "I've made it clear that I have no interest in her." Emmett sighed, shaking his head. "Edward, tell me something. And

be truthful, because I won't think any less of you if you are." Edward turned slowly toward Emmett, his eyes wary. Was it possible that Emmett had found out about his attraction to Harry? Emmett got really close to his face, his eyes narrowed. "Are you… asexual?" Edward blinked. "WHAT!" He snapped his gym shirt at Emmett's chest. "Of course not, you idiot!" If Edward could blush, he probably would have been. "Why would you say that?" Emmett laughed. "Sorry man. But you don't show any interest in anyone!" "Maybe that's because I'm not interested in anyone," Edward grabbed his book bag and made for the door, Emmett on his heels. "Alright alright. Not talking anymore. Hey, what are you going to do about Biology class if Har-bear isn't here?" Edward turned to him. "Har-bear?" Emmett smirked. "We had him and Albus over to the house while you were gone to discuss the girl. Overheard Albus calling him that. Been calling him that ever since." "You would, too," Edward laughed, wishing that he had been there. "I'll call him. He's supposed to be here, he said he would be. Something must have happened," His brow clenched with worry over the boy. He'd been anticipating the morning since he arrived home and was tempted to run over to Harry's house uninvited, but he didn't want to appear too desperate. So he waited, hunting the entire night to get his mind off him. It agitated him to no end that his distractions were about to be in vain. He waited out his next class before bypassing the lunchroom to get to his car. He dialed Harry's number and waited. There was no answer. He glared at his phone, wondering if he should try again. He dialed again. No answer. Frustrated, he dialed Albus' number, hoping the old man could give him some news on Harry.

"Hello?" "Albus?" "Edward! How wonderful to hear from you. I take it your trip back from…" "Alaska," Edward stifled a smile. "Alaska! Oh I have always wanted to go there. I've wanted to go Antarctica as well. Everyone always says I look like St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus… Harry says I should make myself a red suit and… how you say… mess with the locals." "Speaking of Harry," Edward cut in, "I didn't see him this morning. I was wondering if there was something wrong. I tried calling him but he wouldn't answer." "Oh yes… you see Harry left sometime after you called yesterday. He was in a bit of a hurry so I suppose bringing his phone slipped his mind," Albus knew very well that Harry left his phone behind on purpose. "And you haven't heard from him since?" "He can take care of himself, my boy," Albus smiled at the genuine concern in Edward's tone, but he wasn't going to let on anything unless Harry gave him permission. "When Harry leaves somewhere, it's mostly because he needs to be alone. We received some news yesterday that distressed him a bit, so he went off to calm down." "Oh," Edward wanted to ask, but he didn't want to pry. He figured if Albus wanted to tell him about it he would have told him already. "Well, if you're not worried." "I didn't say I wasn't worried. I just said that he could take care of himself," Albus said, enjoying what he was sure would be the boy's imminent curiosity. Edward narrowed his eyes in confusion. "Well…." How on earth did these two live together? "Do you know where he could have gone?" "I can't say for sure, we're new to this area afterall. But I will say that when Harry gets distressed, he likes to go wandering, occasionally

swimming," Albus replied, mysteriously. Edward thought for a moment, and then smiled. "Thank you, Albus." "For what?" Edward laughed and hung up the phone. Harry lay on the grassy cliff edge, letting the icy wind carry the spray of the ocean as it hit the foothills, breezing into his hair, leaving remnants of mist over his shirtless body. His eyes were closed, hair wet from the swim he'd taken. What was that saying? Everything goes wrong at once? Harry couldn't think of any thing more truthful at that point. He glared at the sky, looking for all the world like an dark angry god, his gaze piercing the sky as a storm brew overhead. He watched as the dark clouds rolled by, the wind picking up. He looked like a boy possessed. He heard fast footfalls about two miles away. He figured that someone would come looking for him. He wondered what time it was. He felt like he'd been dragged twenty miles over gravel. That was the usual symptoms following an encounter with her. He could think of a million different reasons why he never wanted to see her again, and even more why she should never want to see him again. It seemed she felt that he still owed her something. He always owed her something. "You look possessed." Harry rose from the ground to greet his new companion. Edward's hair was wind-blown and his dark eyes alight from the thrill of running. Harry didn't feel his lips curl into a small smile. "Welcome back." Edward brightened when he saw the smile stretch across the blackhaired boy's face. He hadn't been sure of where to find Harry, but with the mention of wandering and swimming, Albus had given him a pretty good clue. He was thankful that it hadn't taken him to La Push. Harry's travels had taken him a little while south of where the Quileute's running grounds. He hadn't expected said boy to be sans shirt. That made it a little

harder to concentrate since the spray of the water made Harry's chest glisten and his black wet locks framed his face making him look like a less tan swimsuit model. Edward raised his eyes to Harry's. "Thank you," He smiled back, coming forward slowly and dropping onto the ground beside him. "You seem to have warmed up to us, lately." Edward laid down while Harry stayed up, holding himself up with his hands placed behind him. "If you're referring to the visit we made to your house while you were gone, I'd hardly call that 'warming up'," Harry scoffed. "It's safe to say that any meetings we have from now on will be on my property, not yours," 'It's been a while since anyone has been able to make me long for the days when she was still around,' Harry looked at Edward, who bore a quizzical look. Harry sighed. "How does your family put up with you?" "Actually, I think I'm one of the easier ones to put up with," Edward said, smiling sadly. "Believe it or not, I'm usually holed up in my room listening to music or something. Most of the time I prefer being by myself." "It's a wonder you followed me then. Perhaps I like being alone, as well," Harry raised his gaze to the sky. "I can leave if you want me to," Edward seemed unsure, his previous overall confidence replaced. 'Don't be ridiculous.' Edward smirked. "Well, you're warming up to me, at least. Is that right?" "You've been gone for almost a week. You may only be growing on me because you're never around, unlike your harpy of a sister who seems to be everywhere." "She's just angry because you don't give her what she thinks is deserved recognition," Edward smiled. "Everyone thinks they deserve recognition for one thing or another," Harry grumbled.

Edward narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. "Jasper thinks you're cold." Harry smiled bitterly. "Of course I'm cold." 'The more I see of the world, the more I'm dissatisfied with it.' "How can that be true when you live with someone like Albus? He seems more than willing to be overly satisfied with everything and everyone." "Opposites attract, maybe. No one can possible understand the way of humanity the way we do." "Except, maybe, someone that can see it every time you think about it." Harry snapped his head towards Edward, and the bronze-haired boy starred at him through his lashes from sprawled place on the ground. Harry saw the swirling emotions in the boy's eyes. Harry turned himself around to face him fully, drawing his knees to his chest, folding his arms over them. He stared intently at the other boy, who held his gaze without backing down under those piercing green eyes. Harry leaned his chin onto his arms, tilting his head slightly. "I think I like talking to you." "Better than Albus?" Edward teased. "There's never been anyone's company that I've enjoyed better than Albus," 'Didyme being in close second.' "But you're interesting. I imagine that your gift gives you better perspective than most. You're smart for someone so young," Harry murmured, still gazing contemplatively at Edward. Edward drew himself up, about a foot from Harry's face. He smirked. "Well, I'm older than you." Harry smirked. "Only in body." "It has some advantages," Edward's smirk widened, his white teeth glittering. Harry glared playfully, feeling the jab at his height. Edward was beginning to feel the closeness, and the thought struck him that this was the closest that he'd been to the other boy since he'd met him.

He was even more perfect up close. Thunder started to roll above them. The sky was darker, and they heard crashes of lightening in the distance. They watched as a bolt hit the surface of the ocean. Harry reclined next to Edward again, facing the ocean this time. Edward lay as well, letting Harry's thoughts wash over him. Somehow, it was comforting to Harry to be able so say so many things, without saying anything at all. Harry and Edward parted ways early in the morning, riding out the storm on the cliff top. Harry went back to Albus, hoping to find that his room hadn't been turned into a ball pit for Albus' amusement, and Edward went to back to his family. He had something to tell them, and he hoped that they would understand. He had everyone's reactions pretty much planned out, however, Carlisle's reaction would be a completely mystery to him until the moment he told him. Those long hours on the cliff top had told him something that he hadn't been completely sure of until then. Harry liked talking to him, and had let Edward in to several different revelations in his own mind, whispering to him through his thoughts as the storm surged on. When they parted, Edward felt the details of Alice's vision come back to him, and he hoped, now more than ever, that it would be coming true. He adored Harry, and felt that he could be perfectly happy never parting from him again. He could hear Emmett's loud guffaws already. He shook his head as a small smile found its way onto his face, approaching his house. He knew he had some explaining to do. Afterall, he'd left his siblings at school without a car. Rosalie would be livid. He chuckled to himself when he imagined what her reaction would be when he told her about Harry… and Alice's vision. His dead heart swelled as he walked up the steps, taking a breath of fresh air, before facing the music. Carlisle had expected a great many things to come from Albus' and Harry's presence in Forks. Perhaps he might be getting sporadic

visits from the Volturi. Perhaps, Albus might be like Aro and try to reign in his children's gifts. Perhaps Harry was a vengeful vampire that would try to kill Carlisle as soon as look at him. He didn't expect that Albus would be a fun-loving old man that shocked them at every turn. He didn't expect Harry would be a cold and cynical young man with a tortured past. And he definitely didn't expect Edward would fall head over heels in love with Harry. He sat shock-still at the head of the table, his son watching him carefully, as chaos abounded around him. Rosalie was shouting insults about everything from Harry's attitude to Edward's bad choice of companions. Emmett was smiling widely as he thought about all the jokes he could make around Harry, and the poor boy would be none the wiser. Jasper looked like he had just had the biggest revelation over Edward's confusing emotions and Alice's weird actions over the past week and a half. Alice was looking happy and maybe a little smug, but nothing could describe the look of pure joy on Esme's face. Carlisle knew how much Esme had hoped that Edward would find someone. She had watched sadly as all her other children had mates and seemed perfectly happy. But Edward had mostly kept to himself since his bought of righteousness and left to inflict justice on the 'undeserving' humans in the world. Edward always had such passion for everything around him. Carlisle wondered if Harry could reciprocate the same kind of passion for his son. "You spent the entire day with that little snit and left us at school without a CAR? Where were you thinking?" Rosalie snarled at him. Edward growled. "Don't call him that." Alice giggled at Edward's protectiveness. "You're going to have to watch what you say from now on, honey," Emmett laughed as Rosalie turned her glare onto him. "Edward will thump you one if you start harping on his man." "You would fall in love with that little boy, Edward. He's a little selfrighteous ingrate who probably deserves to be alone for the rest of

his never-ending life." "Shut UP!" Edward bellowed. Esme gasped. "What a horrible thing to say, Rosalie." Rosalie's eyes widened at the pure loathing on Edward's face. Carlisle cleared his throat. "Rosalie, I think you are overstepping your boundaries. Edward has decided to let his family know what his feelings pertaining to Harry are, and we need to respect that," He glared at his daughter. "Harry is older than any of us can fathom and we need to be mindful of the fact that he has probably seen more wrong in his life than most could ever cope with. It is time that you start realizing that there are those who probably know better than you, Rosalie." Esme laid her hand over Edward's, rubbing her thumb over the back of it. "I think it's wonderful, Edward. He's a very handsome young man." Edward sighed. "Albus already knows. He saw Alice's vision." Carlisle moved forward. "And what was his reaction?" Edward and Alice looked at each other. "He seemed thoughtful… but it's obvious he hasn't said anything to Harry yet." Alice said. "There's no way to get a reaction from him. He's blocked his emotions from me," Jasper said. "Edward's full of complications these days," Emmett declared, smiling devilishly. "His singer comes to town and he falls in love with the oldest… sorry… second oldest vampire to date," He began to snicker. "At least you know he's got experience." Rosalie glared at him. Jasper and Alice were trying to hold in their own snickers. Esme looked scandalized and Carlisle pinched the bridge of his nose. Edward looked mortified. "Emmett, that was very unnecessary," Esme scolded. She turned to Edward. "What exactly did Alice see in this vision?" She asked curiously. Alice smirked, and Edward shot her a warning look. She raised her

hands in surrender. "I saw… Harry and Edward happy together," She supposed it wasn't a complete lie. After all, they were 'happy' together… the word happy being loosely defined. But she doubted that anyone would catch on. Edward blanched as he caught the innuendo. It completely slipped past the rest of the table, though, which he was thankful for. "We've only been talking, but he seems to be opening up a bit." "How do you know?" Carlisle asked. Edward gulped. "He said… he likes talking to me. He thinks I might be able to understand because I can read his thoughts. I can see things that hardly anyone else can." "He said that to you?" Esme asked, her eyes suddenly as alight as they were when Edward first conveyed his feelings for Harry. "Wait… does this mean that Albus might be our grandfather?" Emmett asked, thoughtfully. The next day, Harry was once again late for school. Edward was worried that perhaps Harry might have been spooked from the day before, though he had showed no signs of it at the time. Emmett smirked at him as he saw his brother scan the parking lot over and over again for any signs of the silver Bugatti, but it was absent. Emmett dragged him to gym class, insisting that he couldn't miss another day in a row. Edward stiffly made his way past Bella's truck, wondering how he was going to get through Biology class. Luckily, Edward didn't have to find out. Harry showed up before lunch started and met them at their table. He answered their silent question. "None of your business," He cast a glare at Edward to keep whatever he heard silent, though Harry was trying hard to think of something else, he didn't want to take any chances if something should slip. He hadn't been happy with the news that Albus had given him about their soon-to-be guests. Harry spent most of the early morning hours trying to calm himself down. He was loath to admit it, but Edward's presence atop the cliff had soothed him immensely, letting him take his mind off days ahead.

Edward raised his hands smiling lightly. "I'm not saying anything, Har-bear," He teased. Harry blanched. He turned darkening eyes on Emmett, who looked like he was going to bust. "That old man says the damnedest things in the presence of company," Harry grumbled, pulling out a blood pop and sticking it in his mouth. He handed a bag to Edward, who took it looking puzzled. "For Biology," Harry said. "Unfortunately you're out of luck if we're doing a lab today. No food policy and all that." "Oh don't worry. Just lecture and microscopes today," Alice smiled. "There now," Harry smirked. "Hey let me have one of those," Emmett said, reaching for one. Edward held it out of his reach. "If it's as bad as it was last week then I'll be going through these faster than Albus can supply them," Edward scowled, looking over his shoulder. He groaned as he turned around. Bella was looking at them again. "You could try talking to her. It helps when you think of them as human," Alice said gently. "Has she got anything intelligent to say?" Edward asked Harry. "She's smarter than the others. She's selfless, witty, and extremely clumsy," Harry summed up. "Careful, she may be dangerous." Edward turned his head fully to look at Harry. "Have you been talking to her?" Something akin to jealousy might have escaped in his tone, but Harry didn't show any signs of catching it. "No more than having two classes together would require," Harry said. "She seems to like you a lot Harry," Alice piped up, and Emmett smiled teasingly at Edward, who cast a warning glare back. "Can't imagine why," Rosalie mumbled. Harry turned to Emmett. "What exactly do you see in her? Enlighten me, please."

Emmett was quickly learning that while Harry definitely made things more interesting, it definitely making Rosalie even more moody in general. A fight between Rosalie and Harry often ended up in Rosalie stomping around the house, snapping at every little indiscretion, before locking herself in her room, not opening the door even for Emmett. He knew that day would be one of those days. He was starting to wonder why Rosalie even said anything to him at all. Rosalie had done nothing besides rant about Harry's attitude and his childish behavior, even though she seemed to be the only one to possess that opinion. Edward had gotten extremely angry at her early that morning and Emmett and Jasper had only just restrained him. "C'mon man, what would Harry think if you went around hitting girls?" Emmett laughed. "He thinks she's a harpy," Edward smirked evilly at Rosalie, and the girl had gone on another rant. If looks could kill, Edward, Rosalie, Harry… and Emmett would have all been long gone by now. Emmett rolled his eyes, leaning back in the chair and crossing his arms over his eyes. It was really not worth getting into. Edward held his breath as he eyed the sparkle in Harry's eyes as he glared at Rosalie. He knew it was cruel, but he couldn't help but love it. It was exciting to see such fire in him. Edward stiffened suddenly. Harry recognized the scent, and saw Bella had walked to the lunch line, followed by Mike and Jessica, downwind from the Cullens. He sighed. It was almost like she did it on purpose. He noticed that Bella was looking particularly red in the face, with her companions asking what was wrong with her. Harry rolled his eyes. It was worse than he'd anticipated. She was enamored with Edward. He felt sorry for her, as the object of her affections would love nothing better than to kill her, Harry observed as Edward turned from her to stare at Harry. Harry thought about Albus with cat ears. That seemed to help, as his lips began to twitch as before. Harry smiled at the payback for Albus' annoying smugness as of late.

"Edward Cullen was looking at you," Jessica Stanley giggled to the girl, though an undertone of jealousy made it's way into her voice. "Does he look angry?" The girl asked quietly, her head bowed as if trying to shield herself. "No. Should he be?" "I don't think he likes me much," She said. Edward's fists clenched. "That's a bit of an understatement," Emmett laughed quietly. Harry all but had to shove a blood pop into Edward's mouth to get the boy to remember that he had them. The bloodlust was causing him to forget himself. Harry watched as Edward sucked on the pop with deep concentration, as if it were an art, tongue working around it intently. Harry shook his head, turning and frowning to himself. What in hell? They entered the room, and Edward held is breath when he saw Bella Swan already at the table. Harry smacked his backpack, making the blood pop bag crackle noisily. Edward nodded as Harry took his seat next to Mike Newton. Edward grudgingly made his way towards his own table, sitting on the edge of the seat. Bella eyed him out of the corner of her own eye, before looking back to the front of the classroom. The teacher brought out the microscopes, and it looked like Edward would either have to talk to her, or continue the entire exercise in silence. Bella didn't seem to have a problem with it, as she pulled the paper to herself. Edward didn't seem keen on following Alice's advice and talking to her. He asked a few times to check her answers, and she would let him, but other than that, he was silent, sucking hard on blood pop after blood pop. Harry understood though. If she spoke to him, he would need to breathe to respond. And Edward had done a very good job at pretending to breathe when he actually wasn't. It was paying off. He'd at least been able to keep the murderous glare from his face. Harry completed the assignment while Mike looked on dumbly. It only took half the period to finish for both Harry and Edward, but at least

Edward had a partner that was at least a fourth as smart as he was. Their only interactions were Edward asking to see the microscope, Bella passing it to him, and her asking for the microscope and Edward giving it to her. It was Albus' idea to give Edward the blood pops. He'd made a special batch that night, making it taste particularly good, but still it couldn't compare with the blood of a singer. Harry knew Albus would try everything possible to eventually be able to figure out what gave Bella the ability to block Edward, and when Albus wanted something, he would get it. Harry was hardly in any humor to ask her to their house though. Frankly, he would love nothing better than for her to fade into the background just as all other humans did, but that didn't seem to be part of the plan. He felt eyes on the back of his head. He turned in his seat, meeting Edward's eyes. 'Holding up well? Or should I start my funny anecdotes again?' Edward might have either been smiling or cringing, it was hard to tell. He tilted his head though, a little jerkily. Harry nodded. 'Good. As soon as Albus finds out what I showed you at lunch I think he'll be finding something ten times as embarrassing later on. Only he'll think of one faster.' "The majority of you who have finished may feel free to socialize until the bell. Turn in your sheets to the basket at the front," The teacher drawled. Edward was up in a second, moving towards Harry's table and grabbing an unoccupied chair. It was lucky that Harry's table was considered the furthest table in the room from his own. He pulled out another blood pop, throwing the leftover stick from the former into the garbage next to the teacher's desk with perfect aim. "Twenty minutes left," Harry said. "You're going to make it." "Make what?" The nosy Mike Newton asked from Harry's right. "He needs to take a piss. Anything else you'd like to know?" Harry

asked, snappishly. That seemed to shut the other boy up. He walked towards Bella's table, taking Edward's vacated seat. Bella didn't look happy about the switch. Edward leaned his forehead on the table, his shoulders shaking in concealed laughter. 'Bloody nosy son of a—' "Distract me, please." Immediately, he was treated to the memory of Harry and Rosalie in the midst of a shouting match in the middle of the living room at Edward's house, with Albus looking nervously from Harry's side and Esme and Carlisle trying to calm their fiery daughter down. Edward didn't think he'd ever seen Rosalie so angry. "She had a few choice words about you early this morning when I got back." "Let her talk," Harry grumbled. "Did Albus turn your room into a ball pit?" "He was watching cartoons when I got back. It could have been worse." Edward chuckled. The blood pops were working, much to his relief. As long as Albus kept making them with any degree of urgency, Edward was pretty sure he could bear the pull long term. "Hey Harry?" Bella Swan approached Harry during gym class. She'd been wary of saying anything to him when Edward Cullen was around him. She couldn't understand why the handsome boy seemed to dislike her so. She didn't want to seem too interested, so she didn't ask about him. Instead, she focused on Harry. She appreciated that at least he seemed to treat her as if she were just any other student at the school, and not the mysterious new girl. She'd heard many stories so far about Harry and his grandfather, even though they'd only been there for about as long as she had. The students were both appalled and intrigued with the boy's attitude. He seemed to be very clever and sarcastic. Bella found it funny while many of the others found it narcissistic. But still they gravitated

toward him like they did her. Bella understood. He had something about him that her want to be around him. Come to think of it, so did Edward. She sighed. From what she had heard from the other students, Edward was way out of reach, even for the new girl that all the boys liked. She didn't understand why Harry seemed to be at least humoring her with his conversation, but the others of the group wouldn't give her a second glance, other than Edward's glaring at her. She wondered perhaps that her talking to Harry was making him angry. Whenever Edward was around Harry, he seemed to focus solely on the boy, yet no one had made any associations between them as being anything more than friends, perhaps family. Bella certainly hoped it wasn't anything deeper than that. She found the boy sitting on the bleachers, leaning back on his elbows, watching the other students clumsily make teams during their free day for gym. He had chosen to fade off to the side and observe, rather than participate, which made the girls sad about the loss of eye candy, and the boys agitated because he was one of the better players. She fell under his questioning gaze as she approached, and fidgeted a bit. "Umm. I was wondering… Mike and a few others are going to the beach on Saturday. Would you like to come?" Harry smiled wryly at her. "Why are you asking and not Newton?" She chuckled. "I think you might have offended him or something. But I'd feel better if you were there." 'What is it with people these days? You spend your time trying to get them to leave you alone and they take it as completely the opposite.' Harry thought, exasperated. "I think I should spend some time with my grandfather this weekend. He's had nothing to do but sit in the house for the better of two weeks," Harry replied. "Oh…" Bella seemed genuinely disappointed.

"Any particular reason you're avoiding being alone with your fan club?" Harry asked. Bella frowned. "To be honest… I'm kind of avoiding… it seems there's some kind of a bet going on about…" "Asking you on a date?" Harry smirked. Bella looked crestfallen. Harry peered over at Mike Newton, who was regarding them with unsure eyes. Bella followed his gaze, sighing with trepidation. "Poor boy. Perhaps you could… how you say… give the dog a bone." Bella laughed. "He's not really my type." "Is that so?" Harry contemplated bringing up Edward, as it was increasingly obvious that she liked him. She hadn't talked about the boy, but Harry had seen her scanning the lunchroom for the bronzehaired boy, and the second he emerged back at school, she was back to staring at him, blushing whenever Edward caught her stare. Harry was a little cynical over why he was frustrated with the girl for feeling that way towards Edward. He wanted to blame it on the fact that she was causing enough trouble for the other already. But while Harry knew she had no chance with Edward whatsoever, he still didn't like the way she seemed feel towards him. "I think you should humor them at least, darling. They could be better friends to you than I could," Harry said quietly, in warning. While she was one of the more tolerable humans that he'd come across, he really shouldn't be allowing himself to befriend her. Too much risk involved in making friends with humans. "Why do you say that?" Bella asked, worried he might be trying to get rid of her. It figured that the only company that she really felt like she enjoyed in the town didn't want her around. Harry shrugged, standing up. "People that spend too much time around me tend to get hurt." Bella looked taken aback. "Don't take that as a threat, because it's not. It's a fact," He said, picking up his bag and heading out of the gym before the bell rang. He watched through the window as she stared after him, with an almost hurt look on her face. She turned and sat down where he had been moments before, looking deep in thought over something.

Harry knew it was foolish, but he had to know something before he tried to completely sever the relationship between them. Albus wanted something from the girl, and he was determined to figure out what kind of power the girl actually held. He cracked the door open slightly, just enough to get her within eyeshot. He figured he would just give her a sample of it. A human would show a reaction to since they had the lowest possible threshold as far as Harry's power went. He concentrated for a second, zoning in on her eyes that were pointed to the bleachers below her. He let the power flow at her, and he watched closely for a reaction. There was none. He frowned, heightening the amount towards her just to be sure he was actually hitting her. Still nothing. He was sure his power had struck her. He had felt it. But she still showed no reaction. He sighed. So she could block him as well. Bella Swan was truly an enigma, and she insisted on complicating things even more. Edward met Harry at his car after school again, the makings of a storm coming upon them as they had the night before. Harry knew what the storms meant, and his jaw clenched as he felt the weather's agitation around him. In a day, they would be here. Albus had spent most of the other night preparing while Harry had been away, making up some rooms for them. Harry noted in satisfaction that he had been careful to keep them as far from Harry's side of the house as possible. He felt that perhaps they would need to warn the Cullen's of the soon-to-be addition to their party in Forks, and perhaps he would. Edward would find out soon anyway, as their arrival was quickly engulfing all of Harry's thoughts, so there seemed to be little point in keeping it a secret. Harry saw the Cullens gathering by their car, watching as the clouds surged around in the sky. It looked like the makings of a tornado, but that was too much a weather change that Harry knew wouldn't be

allowed to happen. Alice turned to him, as she watched him come forward, frowning at the pensive look on his face. Harry saw her eyes glaze over, and sighed. He knew what she must be seeing. Japser held onto her arm as the tell-tale shock started to wash over her face. Rosalie glared at him, and Emmett nodded smiling as Edward moved towards Harry's side as he joined them. Harry watched Alice's face warily. Edward frowned as he saw the vision in her mind, turning to Harry fully. "We're expecting company?" Alice asked. "Three?" Harry nodded. "We were planning on telling you, but it seems Albus has lifted the block on your powers, Alice. It's nothing for you to panic about. They're old… old friends. Maybe… disgruntled friends… but I suppose all will be revealed in due course. I have to talk to Albus. You can expect a call later on today. It might be necessary for us to fill you in on some things before they arrive." Edward nodded. "When should we expect them?" Jasper asked. "Tomorrow," Alice said, looking a little unsure. Harry nodded. "Tomorrow then. And don't mind the weather. They're just sending word ahead of themselves. A little… ostentatious, thought it be," He smiled tightly. "We'll call you. I expect Albus has a few things to relate to Carlisle, at least." He nodded his departure, cocking his brows at Edward, who smiled back. He continued to his car and zipped out of the parking lot before the rest could get into the Volvo. "Who's coming, Alice?" Rosalie asked. "Friends of Harry and Albus," She replied unhelpfully. Rosalie rolled her eyes. "Are they dangerous?" Emmett asked, cracking his knuckles. Alice laughed. "Definitely. I see what Harry meant when he said he

knew someone like Rosalie." Edward saw a flash of a beautiful light blonde girl, tall and statuesque like Rosalie. But there was something in her than made her outshine even Rosalie. Edward could tell that her beauty must have been substantial even when she was human. "What does he mean that they sent the weather ahead of them? Can one of them control the weather?" Emmett asked again. Alice shrugged, and Edward looked out the window as the rain began to pour down as they drove out of the lot. It reminded him of the night before when Harry and he had watched the lightening deep into the night, lighting the sky and rumbling through them as they lay in the grass. Alice gasped, and Edward felt another vision coming on. His eyes widened. The black-haired boy was sprawled on green wet grass, his back arching, eyes closed and lips parted in pleasure. A another hard body fell on top of him, grabbing his arms and trapping them above his head, starring into the sparkling green eyes full of excitement as their lips crushed together amid the thunder that rocked through their bodies. The raindrops fell onto the taller boy's back as he pressed closer against the smaller one, grinding his hips intimately against the boy below him. The bronze-haired boy bit his neck harshly causing the other to groan. He released the hands above his head to run them down the taut boy's sides, as the one below him drug his nails down his back. The lightening flashed, alighting their bodies as the storm surged.

Seven: If I Never See Your Face Again :Recap: Alice gasped, and Edward felt another vision coming on. His eyes widened. The black-haired boy was sprawled on green wet grass, his back

arching, eyes closed and lips parted in pleasure. A another hard body fell on top of him, grabbing his arms and trapping them above his head, starring into the sparkling green eyes full of excitement as their lips crushed together amid the thunder that rocked through their bodies. The raindrops fell onto the taller boy's back as he pressed closer against the smaller one, grinding his hips intimately against the boy below him. The bronze-haired boy bit his neck harshly causing the other to groan. He released the hands above his head to run them down the taut boy's sides, as the one below him drug his nails down his back. The lightening flashed, alighting their bodies as the storm surged. Edward's hands gripped the steering wheel harder and he inhaled sharply, his lips parting as the passion from the vision because to seep into him. "Edward! You're gonna break it!" Rosalie cried, and Alice reached out to ease his grip. Jasper gasped from the heightened passion and thrill that radiated off of Edward. He suddenly had a very good idea what Alice's vision was about. "Why so stiff, Edward?" Emmett remarked over Edward's suddenly still form, his arms locking at his sides and teeth starting to grit. Jasper snorted. Alice glared at Emmett. "Leave him alone! He's having a hard time," Then, when Jasper about choked trying to hold his laughs back, she realized how that must have sounded to the informed listener, and she turned her glare to Jasper. "Cut it out!" "Enough! I'm fine!" Edward bellowed. He tried to tame the pleasurable tingling in his stomach, and how his skin suddenly felt like an electric current was running through it. He kept his eyes trained on the road, but his imagination's eyes were still following the rain drops that trailed down Harry's chest. 'Damn it…' He glared at himself. "Hello! Can we get some verbal communication going on here? We've been over this!" Emmett growled, mad at being left out again. Rosalie looked as though she could care less.

"It's none of our business, Em," Jasper laughed, feeling slightly more elated that he had been for almost two weeks. Edward spending more time with Harry certainly helped the situation, even though Jasper wasn't prepared to fully trust him or the old man yet. "I get it. Only the ones with powers can know what's going on. Edward! Can I remind you that you like me better than Jasper?" "How do you figure that?" Edward asked, eyeing his clutching hands, trying to keep them from breaking the steering wheel as his foot pressed the petal closer and closer to the floor. "I keep things interesting! And Jasper just sits there looking nauseous." Jasper glared at him. "Is this about that wrestling match I won yesterday? Because I'm not doing a rematch." Edward laughed, coming slightly off of his high. It actually worked to calm him down, and even with Rosalie eyeing him critically from the back seat, he felt pretty relaxed. Afterall, if Alice was still having visions, then that meant he was getting closer and closer to making it happen. He felt bumps forming on his arms again. Alice was staring at him from the passenger seat. "Hope these new guests aren't going to cause much trouble. Harry seemed a little worried, but he said it was no cause for a panic." "Maybe not for us. Perhaps these guests will only be causing him to panic," Rosalie smirked. "Whatever it is, perhaps it will knock him off his high horse." "I think the chances are better that they'll knock you off yours," Edward glared at the road. Rosalie sneered. "What makes you say that?" She asked defensively. "At least one of the visitors is going to be extraordinarily beautiful," Edward smirked. Rosalie looked taken aback. "Alice?" She asked towards her sister. Alice turned and gave her a sympathetic smile. "You know you're beautiful, Rosie," She said, and Emmett wrapped

an arm around Rosalie's shoulders, squeezing her gently. "Of course she is. Just because another pretty girl comes to town doesn't mean that makes you any less perfect, baby," He said. Rosalie's face had contorted into something that might resemble uncertainty. Edward shook his head. Trust Rosalie to only start worrying when her vanity was being threatened. Harry lay on the soft carpeting in his room, starring at the ceiling. His ears were alert to any kind of sounds around him, but other than Albus bustling around the kitchen downstairs and the bubbling from the stove on which he was sure Albus was concocting something, there was nothing save for the occasional rustling of the trees. Even the birds were silent. Dread was building in his stomach. In the next twelve hours, not only would he have to confront his past, but he would need to relate the information to the Cullens for their own safety, even though he was almost certain that they at least were in no danger. Harry wasn't either, really, especially when Albus was there to keep the little harpy at bay. He supposed that he shouldn't be so critical of their other guests. They had never done anything to him per se, other than choosing to spend their time with the bane of his existence. The girl had humiliated him in ways that he might never recover from, but then again, she'd probably done the same to many a stupider person as well. Harry glared at the ceiling. How he wished he could repay her, but Albus, who never cared for Harry's power, had insisted that they just pick up and leave, and hope that they would never cross paths again. In Harry's mind, he had been used most cruelly, and was determined that the girl would think twice before messing with him again, especially now that she was coming to visit. Why she was coming was a mystery, but Harry very much doubted that it had been her idea to come. There was a burst of music from downstairs, shocking Harry from his thoughts. He heaved himself up, walking to the door and opening it,

letting the noise hit him like a freight train. "Albus! Turn this racket off!" Harry bellowed as he stomped downstairs. Albus insisted on using the Bose speakers he'd bought for his iPod while Harry was away as an amusement. Albus turned the music down, frowning. "It's my house, I'll do what I want," And then promptly turned it back up. Harry grumbled, listening to Albus' hundredth intolerable music choice. Why the man insisted on torturing him was beyond him. You Spin my Head right Round, Right Round When you Go down, When you go down, now "What is this song even about? When you go down? What does that mean?" Harry yelled over the music. Albus had turned to music up to a point where the house was actually shaking under the bass. He might have known Albus would do something drastic if Harry left him alone. The man was constantly in need of verbal stimulation, in whatever form it would take. Harry arrived downstairs and saw Albus in the kitchen working over the bubbling cauldron on the stovetop. His long white hair was clasped in a ponytail, and his beard was swept over his shoulder. "Shall I get you a hairnet, Al?" Harry called over the blaring music. Albus gave a stern look over his shoulder, before pouring the contents of a vial into the cauldron and stirring clockwise. "How did Edward do with those blood pops today?" He asked. Harry sighed. "It worked as well as could be expected. He didn't kill her." "I call that a success," Albus laughed. "I suppose Alice has been enlightened on our hostile situation?" "Oh yes, and they are so good at being hostile. She saw something right before I left," Harry walked closer to look into the cauldron, which was turning a magenta color. "Making more blood pops?" "Nope," Albus replied, vaguely. "What is the arrangement for tonight, then?"

"They're coming over around ten," Harry answered. Albus quirked an eyebrow. "Are you going to keep your head this time, or shall I sit on top of you to keep you from ripping someone's head off?" "I wouldn't mind putting the blonde in her place, but you've stopped me time and again." "I thought perhaps it was best if we were to remain on friendly terms, and I'm almost certain that your kind of discipline might have made more than her mate exceptionally angry," Albus said, as he took a little of the magenta liquid and poured it into a vial, shaking it together. He sniffed it for a second, scrunched his nose and threw it out. Harry nodded. "Fine. We'll do it your way." "I daresay she's not long for being taken down a notch. Show some pity and go easy on her tonight. I speak from experience. Beautiful people are subject to same uncertainties and insecurities as the rest of us. More so, in fact, from what I've observed." "I have enough experience to know that pity for beautiful people is pointless and undeserved," Harry hoisted himself up onto the counter, beside the stove. Albus laid a hand on Harry's messy head, leaning forward. "All will be well, I assure you. She has no power over you whilst I'm around." "I don't know how I would have survived this long without you, Dumbles," Harry smirked. Albus frowned. "I don't like that nickname." "Then stop calling me Har-bear when company's in the room." Albus sighed. "We were getting along so well for a moment there," He took the bubbling cauldron and tossed the hot contents into the sink. Harry scrunched his nose. "What are you making?" "None of your business, Har-bear." Harry grumbled. He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his

arms around them. "Why do you suppose they're coming?" He asked thoughtfully. "I can't begin to imagine. Perhaps she's come to make amends." "Why would the others come then?" "Moral support?" "Pfft, she could use moral support," Harry laughed. He looked around for a clock, but there wasn't one in sight, and Harry never wore a timepiece. "What time is it?" "Anxious for the Cullens to get here?" Albus smiled. "I'm sure if you called, Edward would be here in a moment." Harry frowned. He had been enquiring about the time in hopes that Edward would offer more distraction from the present, as he had over the past two days. He had a feeling that Albus was on a different tangent, though. "What's that supposed to mean?" "He was certainly worried about you the other day when you didn't show up for school… surely you've noticed how fond the boy is of you?" Albus smiled. "And I don't doubt that you haven't done the slightest thing to deserve it." Harry was shocked at Albus' remark. He had noticed that he and Edward had formed some kind of a friendship over the past few days, but Harry had supposed that Edward only really wanted a distraction from Bella Swan, or perhaps wanted another, more experienced, opinion on the matter. It hadn't yet occurred to him that perhaps the boy actually liked him as anything other than good conversation. He frowned. He couldn't think of any instance in which Edward's actions were anything more than friend-like. "I think you're barmy," Harry accused. "I'm not sure how that applies, as it is a well-known fact that I've long been off my rocker. Does that make you feel better?" Albus laughed. "Not at all," Harry murmured. It was Harry's firm opinion that the madder Albus was on a particular occasion, the more genius he became.

Harry leaned his head against the cabinet. It had been a long time since he had given any thought to relationships. As his last one had been particularly horrible, he had pressed himself to focus on something else, and overall, he found he could bare the solitude quite cheerfully, with interruptions from Albus from time to time. No, he had no qualms being alone, but then again, he had never found someone, other than Albus and a select few others who he cared about only platonically, that he'd have cared to spend his time with. But he still couldn't scrounge an incident where Edward had shown any interest whatsoever. "What are you seeing that I'm not seeing?" Harry asked, looking slightly frustrated. "Well, did you have a nice time with him when you disappeared that day?" Albus asked, cleaning out the old cauldron. Harry nodded. "I did have a nice time, actually. It's nice that someone might be able to understand since… I've never really thought about it before but… I suppose it's true that someone that can read minds might be able to understand better, right? You've borrowed his powers, what do you think?" Harry leaned his chin on his knees. "From what I can see, the boy can read thoughts in anyway the thoughts present themselves, whether they be words, pictures, memories… anything. It is truly a remarkable gift," Albus said thoughtfully. "If Edward were to see the events of a person's past as they see through their own eyes, yes. I believe that Edward would be able to understand even the most complex of personalities," Albus' eyes sparkled. "Why do you ask, Harry?" Harry sniffed. "I've always known that I seem cold to everyone because no one but you could ever understand what we've been through. It sounds self-righteous in that way, but still… but he seems to… understand, and he wants to understand which is… odd," Harry murmured. Albus snorted to himself. "Odd indeed." "Just because he's interested in my past doesn't mean that he's

interested in me," Harry smirked. "Of course not. You're cynical, snappy, and occasionally downright scary. What's not to like?" Albus laughed. "Perhaps if you'd stop glaring at everyone else, you'd see what I'm talking about." "I'm not oblivious, Albus. I'm perfectly capable of judging what happens around me, and I don't see any case for your babblings," His eyes narrowed. "I don't suppose you're just bringing this up to get my mind of her, are you? I appreciate the thought, but it's really doing more harm than good." "Quite the contrary, I assure you. I was just thinking that Edward is a very nice young man, very smart, it appears. And he's broken through some barriers on your end that you've taken great care to build. That is very… impressive. You must like him, that's becoming obvious," Albus smiled. Harry leaned back. "I confess, I do enjoy his company. He may be the most intrusive individual that I've come across as far as powers go, and yet… I don't feel vulnerable as I did when I first learned of his power." "You felt vulnerable?" Albus asked, shocked. "It's not everyday you run across someone that can read your mind," Harry replied, testily. "Mmmhmmm…." Albus conceded. "I had a feeling that when you finally met someone real that they would have to be very special." He turned his head to look at his friend, a shocked look on his face. "What are you suggesting?" He asked, scrutinizing the old man. "Nothing. What are you suggesting?" Harry was taken aback. He regarded the twinkle in the old man's eyes and he knew right away that whatever turn the conversation had taken, it wasn't a good one. "Are you… suggesting that…" Harry's eyes narrowed in confusion. Surely Albus wasn't thinking what Harry thought he was thinking? "He's a very good-looking lad, Harry. And you said he understands you. Surely you're not too senile to notice the implications of him

following you… caring about you…" Harry might have made a rebuff on Albus calling him senile, but he was too shocked. To tell the truth, he hadn't even thought about it in that way. Admittedly, he had some kind of feelings for the boy that had gone unidentified as of late, but he would hardly call them affectionate. More like… intrigued… but even that didn't sound right. In any case, Harry thought, it was too soon to tell. But as soon as he thought that, he knew that he could not rest until he found out. "What time is it, Albus?" He asked again, as he strode to the living room to seat himself in the armchair. "Time for you to get a watch, my boy." From outside, they both heard the running feet of their guests. As they neared, the both heard the wailing complaints of the blonde. Harry growled as he heard the slander in which she used his name, and tried to stand, about ready to go outside and give her a piece of his mind, but was thwarted when Albus fell into his lap, pinning him to the chair. "I told you to be pleasant, and I'll use force if necessary, Harry." Alice opened the door to find Harry and Albus on the floor in the living room, Harry on his stomach with Albus sitting on his back, holding Harry's arms behind him in his grip. Harry looked thoroughly embarrassed, and Albus chuckled as he welcomed the rest of the family into the room, showing no intention of yielding. "Don't mind us, we're suffering a minor disagreement," Albus announced cheerfully as the Cullens ascended through the door. "Minor, huh?" Emmett laughed as Harry grumbled from the floor. He caught sight of Rosalie, and the girl was smirking at him. Damn Albus. "Get off me, you great lump! I'll throw your blood pops into the hearth!" Harry struggled. "I'm sure Edward will appreciate that since he needs them more than I do," Albus laughed.

Harry raised his head towards Edward, who stood slightly behind Rosalie. He was thankful that Albus would be blocking Edward's powers. Harry imagined he would be having trouble controlling them about then. Edward's eyes sparkled with amusement and his looked quite fit in snug jeans and a clingy T-shirt. Edward's lips curled at he observed Harry on the floor. Even when he'd clearly lost a wrestling match with the old vampire, he still managed to look unbelievably beautiful. Sprawled on the floor with his black hair falling in graceful locks over his face, his eyes shimmering with irritation, starring at him through long lashes. Harry couldn't take any more humiliation, especially with Rosalie snickering behind her hand and Edward staring at him in such a way… Harry didn't know exactly what emotions had taken over Edward's eyes, but he knew what Albus' theories were making him think. He needed to get up. "Albus, get off of me," Harry said firmly, and Albus noticed his change in tone. He frowned down at the boy whose arms he held. Harry turned his head towards him, and he saw the look in the younger boy's eyes. He let his arms go and stood. Harry rose, dusting his spotless black shirt off. He flicked his hair from his face, glaring at Albus, and then turning to Rosalie, who smiled sweetly. "Not as tough as you think you look, are you?" She sang out. Harry inclined his head, and Rosalie was taken aback by the intense look on his face. But Harry's glare was slipping. In fact, all his irritation with her was beginning to fade. Albus must have been making good on Jasper's power to filter his emotions. Harry wanted to be out of all the attention. He walked briskly over to the grand staircase, planting himself on the third step, leaving him sufficiently out of the way, so that when everyone finally settled into the living room, all the attention would be focused on Albus. He wanted too much to think right then. He leaned his elbows back on the stair above him, lowering his gaze from the party in the room to the ground.

If he could procure a headache, he was sure he would have one by then. Instead, he was exposed to the torture of the crystal clear thoughts running through his mind. He hated when that happened. Her, Edward, Albus, Bella, Her, Edward… He waved Albus on when he saw his friend peering at him in concern. Albus nodded and then brightened as he invited everyone to have a seat in living room. Harry watched as Carlisle, Esme and Jasper took seats on the couch, while Rosalie sat in the chair that Harry had vacated before. Alice took a seat in Jasper's lap, and Emmett on the footrest. Albus took a chair from the kitchen table and seated himself in the middle. Edward turned to look at Harry in concern, his hands in his pockets. Harry raised his eyes as he felt Edward's gaze. He raised his brows, tilting his head. "What are you waiting for?" He indicated the rest of the stair that he sat on. He smiled softly when Edward took a seat slightly below Harry's, so when he leaned back, Harry looked directly into his eyes. "Are you okay?" Edward asked. Harry contemplated the concern in Edward's eyes, and he spared a look at Albus. The old man smiled at him softly. Harry looked back at Edward. "Yeah," He murmured. "Just getting in some private thinking while I have the chance," He chuckled, stretching his legs along the stairs. Edward frowned. "Is it really that bad?" He had thought that perhaps Harry didn't mind as much. Harry regarded the handsome boy, taking in the intense look in his eyes. Harry had had millennia's of experience in emotions written on people's faces, but Edward had a way of keeping his emotions concealed and vague. Harry thought back to the days after Edward had returned… the phone call he'd received. It didn't seem likely that Edward had informed him of his coming back just for the heck of it. But he certainly wanted Harry to know… after six days of no communication with his family, from what Alice and Carlisle had told him. Harry thought that perhaps it was possible he wasn't look deep enough. His gaze shifted to Albus, who was conversing with the Cullens

cheerfully. Their eyes met, and Albus glanced at Edward, and Harry saw the fondness there. His eyes narrowed as something else occurred to him. Perhaps Albus was reading Edward's thoughts, and knew all of this from Edward's own mind. That was definitely something to entertain. Turning his head back to Edward, who looked confused, he let a smile curl onto his lips, "Not bad at all, really." Edward wasn't sure if he was talking to him or to himself. He felt the need to glare at Albus. He'd been spoiled with Harry's thoughts for the past two days, and he was beginning to feel withdrawal. Albus' voice cut through both the boy's thoughts. "I don't suppose you've had any more visions pertaining to our guests, Alice?" "Not since school," Alice sniffed. "Every time I get anywhere near you, everything goes fuzzy." "I apologize. You understand that I'd rather you hear certain truths from us rather than your visions, subjective as they are, my dear," Albus nodded, and Harry quirked a brow. "Could you tell us exactly who's coming, Albus?" Esme asked politely, from her spot between Carlisle and Jasper. Albus sighed, and Harry leaned his head back on the stair behind him. "They are old friends of ours. I'm afraid Harry's relationship with them is far more expansive than my own," Albus smiled bitterly. "There are two females, and one male. The young ladies are Fleur and Gabrielle Delacour, and William Weasley. Fleur and Gabrielle are sisters." Harry snorted. Albus frowned in his direction. "It was… almost a thousand… five hundred years ago… isn't that right, Harry? Yes, well, we were residing in France, up in the mountainous areas, of course, plenty of trees. About the year 500. Most beautiful place in the world, in my opinion. Our residence was about five miles from a village in the modern day Hautes-Alps, I believe they call it." "Of course it was a time when a lot of the Lords in the land were hoping to marry off their daughters. Fortunately… or unfortunately, as

the case turned out… we had a very expansive property and wealth and Harry was seen as quite the catch among society. But, we were as we were and on top of that, Harry was extremely picky. Needless to say, hundreds of hearts were broken during that time." Harry and Rosalie rolled their eyes as Emmett laughed. Edward smiled to himself. "All save one, but I suppose Harry took care of that later," Albus chuckled bitterly. "Gabrielle Delacour was widely known as being a famous beauty, as well as her older sister. Their beauty was something of legend in that town. It used to be said that the gods themselves gifted it to them." Rosalie's lips tightened at the description of the girls. It was not only one, but two girls that apparently were going to challenge her. Emmett rubbed a hand down her arms in comfort. "Alas, we were deceived in her intentions. She was a perfectly delightful girl, full of wit, intelligence, and charm. In that way, I was almost convinced that she and Harry would have made a wonderful couple. I sadly admit that I sometimes lose myself to wishful thinking," Albus gave Harry an apologetic look that he had seen many times before, and just as in all the other times, Harry waved him off. It was never Albus' fault. But, Harry reasoned, even if it was Albus' fault he would never have the heart to blame him. "I cared for her, naturally," Harry laughed. "She was perfect in so many ways, but I didn't realize until later that my feelings for her were lacking what so many around me felt when they finally found their mates. I suppose that was the closest I've ever come to loving someone the way one would their mate." "One day, when she was playing with some of her friends by the frozen lake in the woods close to our residence, she slipped and fell beneath the ice. Her friends, the fools they were, turned and left her alone in their quest to find help. By the time I found her it was almost too late." Harry scoffed. "She pleaded with me to not let her die, telling me she loved me. She said that she knew we could help." "I changed her," Albus said. "I thought that perhaps she and Harry would grow to love each other. Carlisle, you and I have the same

mindset when it comes to finding companions for our loved ones," Albus smiled at Carlisle. "Unfortunately, Gabrielle's talent for making people fall in love with her carried over when she was changed. She became very angry when Harry realized that he didn't care for her in the same way she cared for him, and told her so. So she inflicted her power on him. I had no knowledge of the power at the time as such couldn't predict the danger. I'm afraid I was much too happy to see that Harry had found someone." "She forced Harry to fall in love with her?" Esme cried, horrified. "Luckily, Albus catches on quick. The drastic change in my actions and demeanor slowly started to weigh in, and Albus became suspicious. Even a person in love wouldn't completely give up their character," Harry commented wryly. He remembered the second that Albus had sent the block on Gabrielle, and Harry came back to himself. "I'd never seen him so angry in all my life," Albus commented. "I hope for Harry's happiness blinded me to the underlying truth of her character. She was selfish and needy; turning from a beautiful young girl into a troll when Harry refused to be with her. Harry raged at her for days, and it was finally decided that the pair couldn't live together any longer. Gabrielle was still completely infatuated with the idea of being with Harry, and Harry couldn't stand the sight of her." "She was impossible," Albus said, sniffing in sudden distaste. "She insisted that we owed her something for changing her, but I refused to allow her to come with us when we decided to move only a year later. The longer she stayed, the more unmanageable she became, threatening Harry at every free moment, and Harry tormenting her in return. At last, we came to a compromise other than leaving her to fend for herself." "Her older sister, Fleur, fell into quite a depression after the supposed death of her sister. She cared for Gabrielle passionately, and Gabrielle was saddened to see her sister in such a state. She told Harry that she would leave him alone if he would consent to change her sister so that they could be together. Harry agreed. We stayed with them for about a month afterwards. The animosity seemed to dissolve slightly, since most of Gabrielle's attention was now on caring for her sister instead of tormenting Harry. We left after that,

and we've not had anything from them since." The Cullens looked shocked. Even Rosalie seemed to a little remorseful over her initial judgments of Harry. She observed his still form on the stairs, head leaned back on the landing above him, eyes closed. She watched as Edward leaned back as well, a little below Harry on the stairs, regarding the smaller boy inquisitively. "What of the man?" Carlisle asked. "You mentioned a boy named William amongst them?" "Ah yes. William is Fleur's mate. I haven't heard much of him, since Fleur and Gabrielle prefer the attention on them." "Are they both completely intolerable?" Rosalie asked, looking incredulous. "No," Harry smiled at her, causing her to turn, waiting for an insult. "Fleur is very dismissive to many people she thinks are below her notice. But if you get into her good graces, she becomes almost matronly towards you," Harry smiled fondly. "Fleur was very affectionate towards Harry, though her sister did everything she could to convince her otherwise," Albus said. "Even though she wished the union between Harry and Gabrielle, she made it clear that she was extremely grateful to Harry for saving Gabrielle and bringing them together again." "Well, sure goes to show about your taste in women, Harry," Rosalie smirked. Harry growled, and to everyone's shock, so did Albus. "I must insist that you hold your tongue on this point, my dear," He warned. "I don't mean to be rude but a power such as Gabrielle's is very dangerous, especially as she is a woman scorned." "What is the nature of this power of hers, Albus?" Carlisle asked, giving a warning glance at Rosalie, who looked properly subdued at being scolded by the old man, but looking concerned the more he thought about the ramifications of a rogue vampire with powers like Gabrielle's. "Gabrielle's power has the same effects, I would assume, as a love potion," Albus said, thoughtfully. "I've never been under that

influence, but from what I understand," He gave a swift glance at Harry, whose lips tightened, "one's thoughts become consumed with her, bowing to her every whim, doing everything possible to make her happy." "Is it possible the girl's gonna use it on one of us?" Jasper asked, tightening his arms around Alice's waist. Albus frowned. "Hopefully, time has discouraged her from using her power for anything other than good. If not, I'm perfectly able to block her powers as long as she stays within my sphere of influence. But I wouldn't worry too much about that. Harry was sure to give her a fair warning that I'm sure will stick with her for a long time." Harry grinned bitterly. Edward knew it had something to do with his mysterious power. If it was truly as bad as Harry said, then Edward wouldn't mind him using it on Gabrielle as much as he pleased. His had a growing distaste for the girl at the beginning of the meeting, but the second he heard what she had done to Harry, he thought that perhaps he could kill her… and probably not feel a thing. "We'll hope that they don't intend to stay long," Albus sighed. "They're not," Harry said firmly, and Albus nodded. "If she thinks she's staying here, then I will set her straight, Albus. I'll not tolerate her presence for any longer than two weeks, and I'm being lenient," Harry sat up on the stairs, his fists clenching around themselves. "Do the other two have any powers that we should know about?" Jasper asked. He was getting slightly worried about what Harry and Albus had wrought into their peaceful lives. But when he looked at Edward, he knew there was almost nothing to be done on the matter then. Edward was gone on the black-haired foul-tempered boy. Yet, Jasper felt sorry for Harry. Being controlled in such a way as Harry had, it had to be very scarring. "I haven't heard anything about William's powers, but Fleur is something of an elemental in that she can control the weather. Perhaps you've noticed the storms occurring as of late? That would be her giving us a warning." Emmett laughed. "Kind of like a 'dun dundundun dun' kind of thing, isn't it?"

Harry actually chuckled from his spot, and Albus smiled amusedly. "You could put it that way I suppose." "Should we be worried do you think, Albus?" Esme asked, feeling concern creeping upon her for the safety of her family, particularly the boys. "I think you are in good hands, my dear," Albus said. "The only person here that needs to be worried is Harry. Even after a thousand years, the stories are all the same that the only person Gabrielle has ever truly possessed an interest in is him." Harry blew air into his bangs distastefully. Emmett gave him a sympathetic look from Rosalie's side. "Tough break, man." Harry raised a brow, looking put out. "You're sympathizing with me?" Edward laughed. Emmett looked confused for a second until he heard the growl from beside him. 'Oh…' he sighed. 'Can't go five minutes…' "I think all will be well. If not…" Albus caught Harry's eyes. "I believe we have enough leverage to make her think twice." Harry let a satisfied smile spread across his lips. "So they'll be staying here, then?" Alice asked, having staying remarkably silent through the duration. "For now, my dear," He replied. Harry traveled up to his room later on that night, feeling a little better about the situation. At least he knew Albus wouldn't scold him for using his powers against the little snit should she try to seduce him again. The Cullens were still downstairs, deciding that they would stay for the entirety of the night. Albus was perfectly comfortable with it, as was Harry. Just in case though, Albus let down the blocks on their powers so he and Alice could focus on seeing exactly what time they would arrive the next day. Albus, however, promptly got distracted when Emmett went back to the Cullen's house to fetch some video

game system in which one could play a guitar with. Albus had looked at Harry the instant he saw it. "Harry… I must have one of those." Harry had rolled his eyes as the rest of the Cullens laughed. The one Harry was been most curious about during the conversation was Edward, who had been very quite for most of the night. Whenever he had spared a look at the other boy, he always seemed to be either lost in thought, or looking right back at Harry. Harry thought that it must have pertained to Gabrielle, and silently cursed the girl once again. He had to hand it to her. She had a way of ruining everything for him. Harry left the door open, wanting to be fully alert should Alice see something. He moved to the couch, pulling a book off his coffee table where the lilies that Esme had brought him a week ago still sat beautifully in tact. Albus had used some of his concoctions to make a nutrient that would keep the flowers in health a little longer than the tap water. There was a knock on the door. Harry had been expecting Edward to want to talk to him at sometime during the night, but Harry had been hesitant to ask him to his room. His thoughts were still running unchecked through his head, and since Albus had lifted the block, they were completely on display for Edward to see. He felt the boy walk closer as he looked up from his book. He had curled his legs up onto the soft suede of the couch, so there was enough room on the other side for Edward to take a seat, but he didn't. Not just then. "Scared, Edward?" Harry asked. He figured anyone would be scared of a girl such as Gabrielle. Beautiful and deadly, as they say. Edward smiled softly. "Not really. Just finally understanding why you were so anxious over the past few days." "It's quite embarrassing really," Harry responded, closing his book. "I shouldn't have made such a big deal out of it. I can only imagine her reasoning for tracking us down and coming here after all these years."

"Do you think she wants something?" "Doesn't matter. Whatever she thinks she's entitled to, she's sorely wrong. I've done what I can by her, and I don't see any reason to ever speak again." Edward looked at the boy who was swiftly becoming more agitated. "You really hate her don't you?" Harry sighed. "I'm afraid we've painted a rather bleak picture of Gabrielle, most of which she deserves. But I'd be lying if I said that she was completely bad. She was sweet, smart, and charming once. But once something she wants is dangling just out of her reach, she turns into a hag. I prefer calling her a harpy though. Sings with the voices of angels to draw you in, then promptly turns into an ugly bird with piercing claws." Edward laughed. "That's a good analogy," He said as Harry gestured to the seat on the couch. Edward sat facing Harry, his back leaned against the arm rest. "Yes, well, I've had time to think about it," Harry smirked down at his knees. Edward turned his head, staring at the lilies on the table. Harry ran a hand through his hair. "It wasn't exactly one of my more gentlemanly moments. I'm afraid your sister is right when she assumes that I'm a bit of a… er… jerk," He laughed. Edward smiled widely. "Maybe you're entitled to be a jerk every once in a while." "More like every ten minutes." Edward laughed. "Rosalie needs someone to remind her that she's not a queen ruling over the rest of us. Carlisle and Esme think it's healthy, even though you've reduced her to a snarling mess every time you speak." "Albus told me to go easy on her tonight. That's why you found me on the floor when you arrived," Harry smiled. "I heard her comments from the forest. What did I do to set her off that time?"

"She thinks that you and Albus are interfering with our lives here. She seems to think that once you came, everything started getting more dangerous, and things started to go wrong." Harry nodded. "I have very limited experience with living amongst other vampires. Usually it's only Albus and I. But as they say, when things go wrong…" "They all go wrong at once," Edward nodded, staring intently at him. 'Perhaps we won't stay here long, then. Perhaps we'll go to Alaska… or Antarctica.' Harry smiled at Edward. Edward's own smile faded, and his looks became thoughtful. His jaw shifted. "Do you think so?" Harry shrugged. 'We prefer it when people don't know where to find us. We prefer to do the finding ourselves.' Edward nodded, swallowing. Harry frowned at his subdued expression. 'What is it?' He asked. Edward shook his head, inhaling. Harry watched as a shy yet… confident?...look spread across Edward's lips as he brought his golden eyes to Harry's. His head inclined slightly as he regarded Harry, judging his expression before speaking. "I'd just prefer it if you stayed." Harry felt a lump in his throat. That settled it. The soft smile on Edward's face completely heart stopping… or it would have been had his heart still been beating…, as well as speaking volumes about feelings that Harry wasn't sure he was ready to face at that moment. "There are a lot of things you still don't know about me Edward," Harry said, searching the other's eyes. "And there's even more that I don't know about you." Edward's smile widened. "What do you want to know? It's a relatively short story, I assure you." Harry's lips quirked. "Somehow, I doubt that," Harry rose gracefully and stretched out on the floor, laying comfortably as he always did when Edward was around. "Tell me about Chicago," He said, tilting his head towards Edward.

Edward slipped down beside him, laying on his side with his elbow supporting him. "Well… it's in Illinois…" Harry thumped him on the shoulder. "Besides it demographics, you great lump!" Edward laughed heartily before falling into a tale about his life in the city, and beyond.

Eight: The Chemistry of a Car Crash It was rounding on two o'clock in the morning. The large house was still filled with the sounds of battling guitars coming from the living room, but two floors higher, there was nothing but silence resounding from the furthest room. Edward and Harry lay on their sides facing each other and supported by their elbows. Even though Harry had lived for far longer than Edward, he still found the details of Edward's life fascinating. "You took off because you didn't want to live the lifestyle any longer?" Harry asked, referring to Edward's brief rebellion against Carlisle's fundamentals. Edward gave a sort of wince, ashamed to be talking about it at all. It wasn't exactly his favorite story to tell. "I was young, and overcome with the hope that I could have both justice and human blood." "You killed only the ones you thought deserved it?" Edward nodded. "But I was mistaken." "Of course," Harry said, sympathetically. "Many have been mistaken in their hopes that they can be both just and sated in their thirst. Even I thought at one point I could have both." Edward smiled. "Hard to think of you being a rabid vampire. You're always so composed." Harry tilted his head, his hair falling into his eyes in a way that made Edward's shoulders tense. He smiled wickedly. "You'd be surprised, my friend."

Edward didn't want to ask, but desperately wanted see Harry in such a way. It was bad, and it was cruel, but he couldn't help but want to know everything about the boy that he was so enamored with. Harry must have realized his plight, because he flashed something to Edward, and his eyes widened at the sight. Wind whipped around Harry's stiff form, his hair swirling around his head like black flames. Blood dripped from his lips, making his already red lips darker. He stood slightly elevated, as if observing his handy work. Flames were erupting from the small village around him, screaming and cries of men, women, and children, staring at the demon boy in horror before running… or trying. One man stood beyond the rest, staring at the demon in complete horror and… recognition. Harry's deep red eyes glazed over as he stalked over quicker than the man could turn to escape. Harry's white hand closed around the tall man. He dug a thumb into the side of the man's neck as the man struggled against Harry's impossible grip. Harry chuckled darkly as he bent over the man's quaking body, close to his ear. 'Ryynan… remember my name.' He whispered, and the man's… red eyes widened before they closed forever as Harry tore the man's throat out. But the one thing that stood out in Edward's mind wasn't the screams, nor the fire… it was Harry's fiery eyes, and the self-loathing behind them. "I didn't know who they were exactly. I had come for revenge, and that was only thing that I could think about when I finally found them," Harry said. His smirk had long slipped from his face. "Why did you kill them?" Edward asked. "He killed my parents," Harry answered quietly. "I said that when Albus told me who he was that I would find him and kill him. So I did, killing the whole village in the process." Edward nodded. "When?" "About 20 years after that last I saw him. It was only about two years after I was turned. I was a temperate vampire for the most part, so Albus wasn't worried leaving me alone from time to time," Harry sighed. "When he found me, I had already massacred the villagers.

Men, women, children… there couldn't be any survivors." "You didn't think to lure him away from the villagers?" Edward asked, trying not to sound as though he were chiding the boy. Harry chuckled darkly. "I wasn't exactly known for well-thought-out plans. I was more an act first, ask-questions-later type of person. When I found him, I think that all my other inhibitions flew out the window that he was still alive while my parents were dead." Harry was used to the regret that seeped into his stomach. No matter how many years of that same regret he bore he would still feel it, though perhaps not at potent as the last time. The scared looks on the children's faces and the condemnation on the women in the village had told him one thing that he never wanted to admit to himself. That, in so many ways, he was worse than the man who killed his parents would ever be. Harry's brows quirked. The curse of a vampire was horrible in that even though you could be justified, you were still damned. Edward listened, and thought that perhaps Harry would appreciate being side-tracked. "So your real name is Ryynan?" Edward asked. "One of the many that I was known by," Harry said. "What is your real name?" "If you mean my birth name, then my real name is Ryynan. That was long before there was any such thing as a last name. Back then, we were our own people, not usually associated with a family," Harry explained. "Ryynan?" Edward sounded out the name, and Harry decided that he liked it coming from Edward's lips. "I like it. How did you get the name Harry?" "It is generic, I'll admit. But with all the moving around that we have done, we found that it rose less questions if we had names that went with the ages and countries that we lived in. Ryynan was Gaelic, and eventually the Celtic name Hagan, through the years and up to the Roman times when I became Hadrian, un-like the Roman emperor by

the way," He said aside, making Edward smile. "When we finally returned to England I became Harold, and then Harry, obviously. I like Harry the best, I think," He mused. "It's a combination of all of my names." Edward nodded. "And Albus?" Harry laughed. "Believe it or not, Albus was always just Albus. We really didn't see a need to change it. The name is old Latin." "I guess it's hard to think of Albus being anyone other than Albus," Edward agreed. He regarded Harry as the other boy smiled fondly at the thought of his friend who was currently still enamored with the video game downstairs. Not that either one of them had been paying much attention to anything besides each other. "I have a feeling that Albus will enjoy your family very well," Harry said, smiling. Edward stared at him thoughtfully. "And you?" He inquired. "I think I'll find Emmett, Carlisle, and Esme agreeable enough. Alice too, perhaps, upon closer acquaintance. Your sister…" He smiled to himself. "How is it that Carlisle thought that perhaps Rosalie and yourself could have formed a bond?" Edward laughed. "It's a mystery. Carlisle, like Albus, might have been blinded by the hope that I would find happiness. So much so that it defied logic in that way." Harry tilted his head, boring into Edward. "You two are very much alike, however. You act alike, in some ways." "You think Rosalie and I act alike?" Edward repeated, a little shocked. "It's a very good thing that you are. You are more about the shades of grey than Rosalie, who sees things solely in black and white. I suppose it's safer with Rosalie's thinking, but less fulfilling. Albus is very much about the shades of grey as well," Harry added. "And you're more about black and white, like Rosalie?" Edward asked. "What is your own opinion?" Harry asked playfully.

Edward dropped his elbow so he could lie on his back, still facing Harry. He was silent for a moment. "You really don't want to decide. Mostly you try and keep yourself from being in a situation where you have to decide. The reason why you and Albus keep yourself away from the mainstream and other vampires is because while you both have opinions on the matter, you try and keep yourselves from making good on those situations. You have others to do it for you." Harry shook his head to the side a little. "Go on," He prodded. "You and Albus must disagree on that fact, so it also helps to stay away from other vampires to avoid quarrelling about the matter." Harry smiled softly. "Very intuitive." "Am I right?" Edward asked. "Completely… correct," Harry smiled sadly. "How can you two live together when you have such different theories about life?" Edward asked, puzzled. Albus and Harry certainly seemed like two peas in a pod, so they had found a suitable way of living together. Edward supposed that if they kept themselves out of the way of other vampires and humans and lived only together than such a difference could be avoided, as it only applied to outsiders. "We have tried to stay away from anything that might tear us apart. Believe it or not, we fight but rarely. There are only two arguments to date that have actually threatened our decision to stay together. The first merely taught me that Albus is not perfect, and thus makes mistakes just like the rest of us. You have no idea how disappointed I was when I found out that he was, in fact, fallible. The second…" Harry trailed off, "nearly destroyed us," Harry chuckled. "I destroyed nearly everything that we owned and treasured in my anger, but he merely sat there, forlorn and sad. He only told me to keep doing destroying our things, because we had too many." Edward laughed quietly. "That seems like something he would say." "The world tears people apart. They don't tear each other apart," Harry whispered to himself. "Albus and I just decided that we weren't going to let that happen. We've separated before only to find that we are nothing without the other."

Edward was struck by that statement, and began to wonder about something. It seemed nearly impossible, since Harry and Albus were so far apart in physical age, but he couldn't help… "Albus said that he had a love that was not meant to be…" Edward trailed off, eyes looking imploringly at Harry. Harry smiled, catching Edward's meaning. "I've said before… Albus is my grandfather, my father, my brother, my friend, my mentor… but he has never been my lover." Edward sighed in relief. Harry smirked amusedly. "Though he does make a rather attractive youth." Edward laughed. "I bet the girls were all over him when he was young. Certainly has enough flirting potential to make everyone fall in love with him," He said, flashing his white teeth at Harry. He propped himself back up again, annoyed that he couldn't fully see the boy's face any longer. "Could you do me a personal favor?" Harry narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Perhaps, depending on the favor." Edward raised a hand to Harry's face, almost touching his forehead but not completely, hovering over the scar. "Can I touch you?" Harry snorted. "There's nothing remarkable about my skin." Edward shook his head. "Not that kind of a touch," He said, and Harry nodded his consent, watching Edward's long perfect fingers as they approached him. Edward had thought a great deal about touching Harry, but in the few weeks that they had been there, he'd never once had the chance. But fate had other plans as suddenly another voice filled the room. "Oh dear. Have I interrupted something?" Albus asked cheerily. Harry groaned, turning over on his stomach to glare at his friend. "Always, Albus," He drawled, but Albus only smiled back cheekily. "Forgive me, Edward," Albus chuckled at the frustrated young man, not bothering to apologize to Harry. "Your brother has suggested a

short hunt before the sun rises. I suppose you'd like to fill up before your next encounter with Miss Swan?" He asked. Edward nodded, smiling sideways at Harry whose eyes were still boring into Albus. Harry made up an excuse to stay longer when he saw the looks that Albus was shooting him. He let Edward know that he was okay, but the boy was still reluctant to leave without him. It wasn't until Emmett and Jasper thumped him one that he ran out the door after them, determined to get his revenge. "My my, Harry, what is Gabrielle going to say when she finds out that you've been cheating on her?" Albus teased as he watched the boys disappear into the trees. Harry playfully glared at Albus. "It's going to be all right, isn't it?" "It certainly seems all right to me, my boy. This is the most fun I've had in decades." That morning had turned into a fight between Alice and Emmett over who was going to drive the Bugatti. Rosalie had staked her claim on the Phantom, as neither she nor Harry would have been caught dead in the same car for over a half-hour. Alice had won naturally, so Emmett went with Rosalie. Esme would stay with Albus until school was over, as Carlisle had work and they figured that it would be better if they stuck together until the nomads arrived. Edward and Harry climbed into the backseats of the Bugatti, as Jasper and Alice occupied the driver and passenger seats. Alice excited started the car and all but left Rosalie and Emmett in the dust as she pressed the pedal to the floor, blasting the music out of the speakers. Edward and Harry sat with their arms pressed together in the backseat. "Keep paying attention to the sky. Fleur is nothing if not flamboyant," Harry warned. Jasper rolled the window down to feel the wind. Edward kept his eyes on Harry's hand that was so close to his. The young marble fingers were fisted as Harry ran his thumb over his own

knuckles in his index finger. Apparently that was a nervous gesture as well. Edward smiled as he saw Harry's straight face. The boy was so good at keeping his emotions a secret from the people around him. Edward figured that if he wasn't able to read minds, he would be even more frustrated with Harry than he was with Bella Swan. At least with Bella, she had an inkling to show some emotion on her face. Harry, it seemed, had trained himself against such tendencies. He moved his hand closer, sticking a finger out and hooking Harry's hand towards his own, before grasping it fully. Edward held Harry's thumb down with his own. He looked up to Harry's face to gage his reaction. Harry had a thoughtful look on his face, studying their hands. He observed how small his own hand was compared to Edward's. Edward's hands looked newer than his own weathered hands, or so he thought. Edward tilted his head in question. Harry shook his head as he pulled Edward's hand toward him, tracing the palm with his fingers. Edward almost groaned when Harry ran his finger feather-light over the lines there, tracing a 'M' shape that had formed in his palm, feeling the creases. Before, He hadn't known how simple handholding could be considered sensual, but he was beginning to understand how it had been tagged as a PDA, and mostly banned in schools. He sighed raggedly. Each touch of Harry's fingers seemed to send electricity through is veins, and making the hair on his arms stand on end. Finally, Harry seemed satisfied, and settled for entwining their fingers together in his lap, still stroking over the back of Edward's hand. 'I like your hands.' Harry thought, still thoughtful. Edward leaned his head to the back of the seat, eyes wide and asking himself what had just happened. Harry had turned the tables on him, it seemed. "So what were you two talking about last night?" Alice asked teasingly, as she screeched into the parking lot.

"The weather," Edward answered, smirking as Alice scowled at him from the rearview mirror. He gripped Harry's hand to his own, rubbing his thumb over the back of it. Harry chuckled softly. "It was very intriguing. Sorry you missed it," He added as they pulled into the parking lot. Several heads turned as they saw the Bugatti, and were a little more surprised to see, not only Harry, but Alice, Jasper, and Edward Cullen as well. Rosalie and Emmett pulled up next to them, drawing stares as well to the car that no one had ever seen before. "Does this mean the Cullens and Potter are close now?" Someone asked. "Harry's letting them drive his car." "I'm pretty sure I've seen the old man driving that Phantom around town." "Oh my god! I knew they were related!" "Don't be ridiculous, numb nuts." "Edward Cullen is holding Harry's hand! Do you think they're… together?" "That would certainly explain a few things if Edward was gay." Edward smirked, as Harry pulled his backpack from the car. "How quickly the rumors start in this school," Harry scowled, strapping his bag to his shoulder. "Looks like a particular someone isn't such a fan," Rosalie commented, and Edward turned his head to see Bella Swan staring at them from across the lot. She had her backpack in the pit of her truck, rummaging through it for something with her iPod on. She seemed wary of Edward's annoyed glance, but smiled slightly when she caught Harry's attention, raising a hand to wave.

Harry nodded back, internally sighing at how she didn't seem to be heeding his warning to stay away from him. "Well, enjoy the day, guys, because by the end of it, we're gonna have a lot more to worry about then a human that makes Edward's mouth water," Emmett teased, throwing an arm around Edward's shoulder. Harry rolled his eyes, looking to the sky. It was windy that day, as it had been for the other days. It whipped through his hair, and he watched as a student's papers were torn from his hands, flying through the parking lot. His eyes narrowed as he watched the boy start wandering unsuspecting into the middle of the road, trying to catch his papers. 'Idiot he's not even paying attention.' "Oh…" Alice gasped suddenly, and Edward hissed as her vision flooded his senses. "What?" Jasper asked. Harry's ears catch the sound of a motor coming around the corner. "The Swan girl…" Alice whispered. Harry's eyes flickered over to Bella. She was still going through her bag, oblivious to the world around her. Suddenly, Harry knew what Alice had seen. The boy whose papers had flown into the wind had ran stupidly into the entrance of the parking lot to catch them papers, in the way of a large blue van. The van swerved to the right, skidding across the asphalt, straight towards Bella. "Her blood's going to spill," He whispered. "It's too late to run, Edward," Emmett said, his lips moving faster than any human could conceive. Harry watched in slow motion as the van started weaving towards Bella, and he felt a small pang within his stomach. She was so unaware of what was about to happen to her, innocently going through her things, preparing for the day. Harry didn't know why he suddenly cared about her. He told her to stay away from him, but it didn't look like she was going to heed his warning.

Perhaps it was because of her power to block both him and Edward, or perhaps it was because of her social awkwardness that made her almost endearing… but was evened out by her persistent fascination with him, which was annoying. But he certainly didn't want her to die, and even less so because if the truck made impact, Edward might just lose it. "Grey," He whispered. As Harry's thoughts spoke to him, Edward knew what he had to do, both for himself and for Harry. With a blood pop still in his mouth, he bolted to the other side of the parking lot, amidst Rosalie's protests. In the three seconds it took for the van to crash into the spot where Bella Swan should have been standing, Edward had sucked his breath, holding it as he pushed her out of the way and under him. He winced as he heard her skull crack against the road, but was relieved when he didn't smell blood. He threw a hand out and the van made impact, creating a large intent in its side. Edward was almost afraid to look down and see her in a pool of blood from the wound that she was sure to have on her head. Through the small space between the two cars he had a small view of his siblings and Harry standing across the parking lot. He shook his head as he saw the fury on Rosalie's face, but it made it all better when he saw the look of almost relief on Harry's. Harry hadn't wanted her to die, and for what reason, he thoughts refused to betray. Her blood would have spilled if the truck had struck her, and Edward would have smelt running blood from a singer if he were a mile away. He chanced a look down at her, and saw her staring up at him blearily. She seemed surprised that he was suddenly so close, when before he could barely stand to be in the same room with her. She was flat to the ground, her hands over her stomach, looking up at him with wonder in her eyes. Edward wished he knew what she was thinking, if she had seen anything. "H-how…" Her voice cracked. "How did you…?" She didn't sound like she was in pain, though. "How did you get here so fast?" She asked. Edward was shocked. Of course, he had been foolish, but at least she wasn't bleeding and he still had his head on straight.

"You were all the way over there…" She said, looking towards where Edward knew he had been standing. "You hit you head really hard," He said, keeping enough air in his lungs to speak. "Are you hurt?" "No." She said. "I'm fine. You were… you were so fast…" Edward mentally groaned at himself. Annoyingly persistent little girl. "You don't know what you're saying. You hit your head. An ambulance is coming," He needed to get away from her before then. The students were sure to notice. Bella looked anxious when he mentioned leaving. "B-but… wait!" She cried as he got to his feet, wincing as he saw the dent in the van. He'd let them make their own conclusions. "Wait!... Tell me later, okay?" She said, looking at him with pleading eyes. Edward looked down at her again. She was so desperate for answers, when she should be worrying about if she was injured or not. He shook his head at the insanity of it all. He was starting to realize why Harry had wanted her saved, if only just to figure out exactly what she was about. "I won't tell anyone." He nodded. "Fine," He said tightly, staring around as the students came out of their shock and started to make their way forwards to check if the girl was okay. "BELLA! Are you okay?" He heard the boyish voice of Mike Newton over the crowd. "Tyler? What were you thinking!" Edward slid underneath the car so as to be undetected as the ambulance arrived. Good timing, he thought wryly. He watched as the students started to crowd around the two cars as he walked, ignored, over towards his siblings warily as Rosalie looked about ready to burst. Harry, on the other hand, seemed pleased. "Why would you do that, Edward?" Rosalie hissed at him. "It's understandable, Rosalie," Alice soothed, rubbing her on the

back. "Her blood would have spilt, and Edward wouldn't have been able to flee soon enough. He would have lost control being this close." Rosalie grumbled at Alice's logic. "In my opinion, the little snit is better off dead." "Such blatant disregard for human life, Rosalie," Harry drawled, still surveying the scene as the EMTs strapped the protesting girl onto the gurney. Harry heard her telling the EMT at her side that she was fine and that this was completely unnecessary. He leaned against the trunk of his car as he watched. Edward came over beside him, watching as well. "She suspects something," He whispered low enough so only Harry could hear. Harry nodded, seemingly amused. "She would." Rosalie glared a him, and he tore his gaze form the departing ambulance to glare right back at her. "Alright, Mr. Potter. Now that Miss Swan has been saved, what do you plan to do with her?" She leaned closer to him, her eyes shining with anger. Harry turned to face her completely, meeting her stare. "Well, there's this concept I've been working on, completely new, you know. It's called talking to her." "Talking to her?" Rosalie mocked. "There's a rhyme or reason to her, I'm positive. There's a reason why Edward can't hear her thoughts and I intend to find out," Harry smirked at her, choosing not the mention the fact that she could also block him. "In addition, Albus would be disappointed he didn't have the chance to study her." "Well," Rosalie sneered. "Let's not deprive the old man of his fun, then." "You're finally realized your status in this relationship," His smirk widened at her and he turned to Edward. "Better go warn Carlisle if she starts asking questions."

Edward nodded. Alice tossed Harry the keys and they both slid into the Bugatti. "We'll stay for the rest of the day. I'll call if I see anything." She said. Harry watched through the window blinds in Bella's room as her father hovered over her. She batted him away impatiently, every once in a while looking at the door as if waiting for something. Harry sighed, knowing that she was waiting for Edward to enter the door. He shook his head exasperatedly at the hopeful look on her face. The boy in question was leaning against the opposite wall, arms crossed and sucking determinedly on the blood pop with a sour look on his face and Harry tried to ignore the boy's working lips as he turned to look at him. Harry wondered how difficult she was going to be when they tried to tell her to drop it. Something told him that she was going to be stubborn. She seemed like the type. Charlie apparently told her that he had called her mother about the accident, and she promptly freaked out, yelling at her father for worrying her mother. There was that selfless act again, always taking other's feelings into consideration before even thinking about her own. Harry sighed. Definitely stubborn. "She hasn't said anything?" Carlisle's voice came from over his shoulder, and he saw Carlisle looking worriedly at Edward, clad in his white coat with a clipboard in his hands. "Not a word. She wasn't lying when she said she would keep her mouth shut," Edward said, not sure if he was supposed to be relieved or even more irritated. "Which only tells us that she seriously suspects something," Harry said. "One doesn't keep their mouths shut about something unless they believe that it is more important that what anyone else can understand." "Very true," Carlisle agreed thoughtfully. "Well, are you going to talk to her?" "We agreed it would be better for me to talk to her. Edward is still recovering from being so close to her, and on top of that she's bound to ask him a lot more questions than me due to her crush on him and her desire to keep him closer for longer."

"Bella Swan has a crush on you, Edward?" Carlisle asked, shocked. "Unfortunately," Edward grumbled. Carlisle chuckled. "That does complicate things." Harry heard some shuffling about the room, and turned his head as Charlie made towards the door, stopping when he saw the company in the hallway. "Harry?" He asked, smiling as he emerged. "What are you doing here?" Harry mustered the most polite voice he could manage. "Nice to see you again, Mr. Swan. I just came to make sure that Bella was all right," He said graciously. Charlie laughed. "That so? Seems like the whole school has convened in the waiting room. Good to see Bella made a fair group of friends. Ah! Dr. Cullen! Bella going to be all right?" He asked when he spotted the blond man. Carlisle nodded, smiling. "Everything looks to be in great shape, Mr. Swan. I just wanted to come by and take a look for myself before releasing her." "Oh good." Charlie said, relieved. "Bella hates hospitals. Blood makes her queasy, you see." Harry had to stifle a laugh at that as an exasperated look came over Edward's face. "Harry?" Bella must have heard Charlie talking to him, because through the window Harry saw her sitting up, trying to see out the door that was in the far corner of the room. Harry shared a look with Edward before entering the room. Bella had her head wrapped and was a little pale but otherwise she looked right as rain. She didn't seem happy to see him though, as an embarrassed look overcame her face. She blushed a deep red and Harry was suddenly very thankful that it was him in the room instead of Edward. "Feeling better?" He asked as he approached her bedside.

"I'm really fine. I don't see why they're making me stay here. It was just a bump on the head, but I feel fine!" She rushed, and Harry smiled almost affectionately as she determined to make the fact that she was fine clear. "I'm sure you are. Indestructible, in fact," He assured her, and she shifted in her bed uncomfortably, trying to sit upright, but it was hard when her bed was only slightly inclined. "Perhaps you'd better stay down until the doctor sees you," Harry said. "The word is you cracked your head pretty bad." Bella looked frustrated. "It's nothing. I feel fine." "So you've mentioned," Harry said wryly. "I suppose…" She trailed off, looking at him tentatively, "It could have been worse if Edward hadn't been there." Harry nodded. "Very lucky indeed." Bella blinked. "I mean, you were there. He got to me pretty fast, don't you think He… he was standing on the other side of the parking lot… with you," She was edging around the issue, hoping to get Harry to say it first, but Harry wasn't biting. "I suspect there was a fair amount of adrenaline involved," Harry said vaguely. "Adrenaline that got him to me in less than five seconds?" Bella asked, shifting closer. "Harry, he stopped the van with his hand." "Sure, he did," Harry said, sarcastically. "I'm sure he'll be flattered that you have him turning into some kind of a superman and saving your life." He could tell she was getting irritated. Her eyes were narrowed and her breaths were coming faster than normal. Harry would have given a fair amount of money to have Edward's power right then, to figure out exactly what she had seen. But the fact was that even if he had, her thoughts would still be a mystery, and that agitated him to no end. "Harry please…" She whispered, coming closer to him. He leaned away slightly. "You can tell me. I won't tell anyone."

"If there was anything to tell, I assure you, I would have been told by now," Said Harry testily, not liking how close she was suddenly. Bella sighed. "I know what I saw. He couldn't have made it to me that fast, and even if he did the van would have crushed us both—." "What you think you know is skewed, and I think the doctor will agree. You hit your head, which makes your perception of the situation questionable at best. What you should be doing, rather than asking questions, is thanking Edward for saving your life and moving on." Bella looked unsure. She sat back slightly, crossing her arms and looking away from Harry to the window. "Is Edward here?" She asked. Harry sighed. "You're not going to let this go, are you? You think yourself above getting knocked on the head and imagining things just like anyone else would? Why don't you take this for what it is? Edward pushed you to the ground, saving your life. What else is there to debate?" Bella shook her head, denying Harry completely. "No. I don't accept that it was just luck, Harry. Please," She looked deep into his eyes, pleading with him once again. "I just want to know the truth." Harry gritted his teeth at his failure to deter her. "If you refuse to accept the truth, then I'm afraid you're just going to have bear the disappointment that this isn't some kind of conspiracy that you've cooked up in your head ." "Ah, Miss Swan." Harry turned from his spot next to her as Carlisle entered the room, looking as though he was completely oblivious to the conversation that had taken place. Harry knew better, and he rolled his eyes at Carlisle as he walked past him, and out of the room. "Harry, wait!" Bella called. "I'm not done yet!" Harry ignored her as he stalked out of the room, meeting Edward's eyes as soon as he crossed the threshold, and it looked like Rosalie had chosen to join them. She stared intensely at him. "Well?" She asked. Apparently she had

only just arrived. "She's stubborn. Who does that sound like?" He smiled pointedly at Rosalie, who glared in return. "You know, you might be slightly better looking if you're face wasn't always scrunched up like that." "If she starts talking, then what?" She turned to Edward. "You've put us all in danger." "I don't believe that. If there is one thing I'm sure of with Bella Swan, it's that she's going to keep her mouth shut," Harry said, turning to look through the window as Carlisle questioned Bella. "And why would she do something like that?" Rosalie hissed. "She's hoping that if we don't see her as a threat, that we'll eventually tell her something. She's sorely mistaken, but that theory will at least keep her mouth shut for an extended amount of time. At least until we can figure out what to do with her," Harry said. Rosalie sniffed, very dissatisfied with Harry's explanation. "Suppose she's doing this because she has some weird fascination with Edward, and is trying to get close to him." "I can't see her being the self-destructive type, he's done nothing but glare at her since he met her." "I'm right here, you know," Edward cut in, sounding irritated. "Well, we're having a conversation about you, not with you," Harry said dryly. Apparently, Rosalie found that funny as she promptly burst into giggles at the affronted look on Edward's face. Harry looked at her as if she had just grown three heads. "By the gods, she can laugh. Did you know that?" He asked Edward, but the boy was still staring at him in blankly for the remark against him. You've got me wondering why, I, I like it rough, I I like it rough, I I like it rough

Harry's eyes bugged as he searched his pockets for his phone. "That's an interesting ring you have there, Harry," Rosalie laughed, making it the second time she had made such a noise in Harry's presence since he arrived. Edward looked justified as Harry finally pulled out his phone. "Albus' new favorite pastime is messing around with phones…" Harry growled as he answered the phone. "Albus, I insist you stop messing around with my phone." "I had to do something, the other tone was so bland—." "What do you want, then?" Harry asked, running a hand through his hair, tousling it even more. Edward watched fondly as it stood atop Harry's head. 'I simply thought you'd like to know that Gabrielle and Fleur are less than two hours away. If you haven't noticed, the wind is starting to pick up.' "I have noticed in fact. We're at the hospital," Harry said. 'I hope you're being ironic…' "Bella Swan got into a car crash," Harry corrected. "Edward saved her from being crushed." 'How charitable!' "Hardly. He was too close to get away if she bled, and now she's completely sure that there's some kind of supernatural scenario happening. Edward had to break land-speed records to get to her in time." 'I see…. And what have you told her?' "Nothing that she accepts." 'I'm sure Carlisle will tide her over well-enough. Do you intend for me to welcome our guests all by myself? You know how I get in front of crowds.' "I'll be there, Albus. Don't get your beard in a knot."

Harry hung up the phone. The other two had fallen silent during the conversation. "They'd better not be staying long. We got enough troubles to be dealing with another childish little girl," Rosalie said quietly. Harry wasn't sure if she was talking to him or to herself. "How much longer until school's out?" He asked. "A little over an hour," Rosalie answered, already punching numbers into her phone. Harry endured Rosalie's ranting as they were stuck in the same car for the ride back to the house. Harry was beginning to wonder if Gabrielle's visit was going to be so bad after all. Perhaps it would succeed in getting Rosalie's and Gabrielle's attention off of him when they realized that they both had competition for the most beautiful girl in the vicinity. Harry pulled into the garage, climbing out with Edward and Rosalie. He entered the house after closing the garage door around the Bugatti. No telling what the little harpy was expecting but he wasn't going to allow her to trash his car as revenge, if that was what she was intending. He watched as Albus' Phantom rolled into the driveway, following by Carlisle's Mercedes. Albus was seated on the plush couch with a pair of knitting needles in his hands, and seemed to be working on a blanket with Esme beside him. Harry rolled his eyes. "I don't suppose there's any use in telling you to act natural?" Edward chuckled from his seat at the kitchen table. Albus rolled his eyes as well, mirroring Harry. "I don't like that we don't know anything about William Weasley," Rosalie said, crossing her arms from the love seat. "We'll know as soon as he arrives, that is if Albus wouldn't mind taking the blocks off?" Edward asked. "Of course, my boy. I'm very able to keep the block centered on one

person, that person being Gabrielle." "They've just exited Canada about ten minutes ago," Alice announced as she entered the house. "They're moving faster now." Albus nodded. "Not much longer then." The occupants of the house didn't seem to have much to talk about. Harry was standing at the windows at the back of the house, watching the tree line of the forest intently, watching for the slightest movement. He narrowed his eyes as the trees started to sway dangerously. Everyone was still, even as Carlisle entered the house, moving to Esme's side protectively. Edward moved to Harry's side, watching the forest as well. He wondered what would happen when Gabrielle and Harry met again. He had seen but a few memories of Gabrielle that Harry had decided to show him the night before. She was smart, and she definitely hadn't only fallen in love with Harry because of his wealth or his looks. She loved him, and had really been heartbroken when Harry hadn't returned her feelings. Edward had gathered that Harry was not good at forgiving people, and he could hardly blame him. Edward was far from feeling sympathetic towards a girl who would control someone like that. But as someone that was very close to falling in love with the black-haired boy at his side, how was he supposed to compete with a girl who had known him longer, had loved him longer? Harry saw a tree fall in the forest on the other side of the property, and he narrowed his eyes as he saw a flash of red. It had to be William, the redheaded male mate of Fleur's. "They're here," He said, still as a statue. The others assumed a similar position as they saw the trees seem to part around a trio that emerged into the clearing, the wind whipping their hair into a frenzy. As predicted, there were two blondes and a redhead in the group that approached, moving slower than before as they caught sight of the house. The Cullens seemed to catch a breath as they saw the beautiful

women in the group. One was very tall and statuesque. If they had described Rosalie the same way before, they took it back immediately upon seeing the woman who walked next to the even taller redheaded male. The girl on the other side of the woman looked very young, but that didn't detract from her attractiveness at all. Harry bit his tongue. He stood suddenly, walking around to the backdoor and pulling it open. Albus followed quickly to the door and the others followed suit. Harry stopped on the marble steps that led down to the green, watching as the trio approached cautiously. Harry stood with his arms crossed, watching them darkly. They walked as though they were not moving at all, as though the land was pulling them forwards. The women were clad in silvery garments, as the man on the right wore brown and red. The woman in the middle stopped first only a few yards away, and the other two followed her example Whatever the Cullens had been expecting to see on the woman's face, they did not expect the joy and relief that spread across it. Rosalie's jaw tightened as even she was a little taken away by the ethereal smile. The woman looked at Harry as though his mere presence brought her the most joy as she had seen in ages. Harry kept his gaze away from the girl on her left as he moved his eyes towards the redheaded man. He was tall, almost wild-looking with his fiery red hair, and scarred face. Harry hadn't imagined Fleur's mate to be anything less than perfect like herself, but this man was indeed full of flaws. Half of his face looked like it had been clawed deeply, not allowing it to heal properly. Harry briefly entertained the thought that perhaps the man had been changed shortly after getting into a brawl with bear, like Emmett, but something told him that it was deeper than that. Finally, he shifted his head to look at the smaller girl, whose gaze he had felt boring into him since the second he left the house. The last he had seen Gabrielle, she had been snarling at his back as he ran away, following Albus into the forests of the French mountain ranges. They had left their house in the mountains to Gabrielle and

Fleur when they departed, never to return again, and she had stood on the front steps as they disappeared. Harry hadn't seen her looking anything other than angry in his direction since he found out how she had used him. She looked well, for the most part. She certainly wasn't snarling at him. Instead, she looked… hungry… as if she had been yearning for his face for many years. She drank in the sight of him like a starving woman, flickering to every part of his appearance. He saw her eyes shifting up and down his body, and his eyes narrowed. She had no right to look at him like that. Edward regarded the girl from behind Harry. Harry's memories had not done the girl justice. Her long pale blond hair fell in soft waves down her back, and her pale face was in between girlish and womanlike. In Edward's opinion, she looked akin to what a Nix or watersprite might look like. Intelligent and shimmering black eyes stared at the boy before her, looking him up and down. Edward snarled behind him as he heard the less than innocent thoughts running through the girl's head. Harry heard him, and broke the girl's gaze to look at him. Albus seemed a little unsettled as well on what he had heard. Gabrielle didn't seem to like being ignored as Harry's eyes moved from her to the boy behind him. The bronze-haired boy glared at her, before meeting Harry's eyes. Gabrielle's eyes narrowed as she surveyed a kind of silent conversation between the two. 'What have we here?' She thought possessively, her dark eyes zeroing in on Edward's form.

Nine: I'll Keep You My Dirty Little Secret 5th century France The night was deep in the peaks of southern France, the moonlight frosting the tips of the trees that populated the valley as well as the shimmering pool that broke the tree line. The pool was preceded by a white walkway lined with tall lanterns that led up to a grand estate situated in the large clearing and surrounded by a large expansive

garden. Unfortunately, the beautiful scene was blocked from outsiders by a large intricate iron gate. Any spectators were forced to observe only from afar. That suited the residents just well, as they resented attention and mostly kept to themselves. The situation of the house was perfect for their peaceful lifestyle, and had been for decades. Yet, peaceful silence was broken as a blood-curdling cry pierced the night. Inside the large foyer of the house stood three figures. An old man watched slightly to the side as a younger-looking pair faced off in the center of the room. The dark-haired boy, looking no older than sixteen, bored into the beautiful blond girl that stood only about a yard away from him, his black eyes glittering with fury. The girl stood rigidly, her hands clenched firmly to her sides as she stared back with a mixture of fear and defiance. "How dare you?" The boy snarled, eyes feral. His body was still as stone, his black hair falling in sharp locks over his face. His back was arched, looming over the shorter girl with his arms locked and hands clenched, making him appear like a marble gargoyle perched atop an imposing fortress. The girl looked slight and vulnerable with her arms curled around herself, but her eyes glared from beneath her fringe. "What did you think?" The boy continued, "That you could control me forever? Was that you're plan?" He spat, teeth bared. The girl's lips curled in a sneer, but remained silent. "ANSWER ME!" he bellowed, causing the girl to flinch. She shook her head, looking disgustedly at the floor. "Was eet so much to ask for you to return at least some of ze attention zat I rained down on you? You say you care but you offer only vague indifference…" He growled when she failed to answer his question, too furious to be deterred. "Albus…"

Albus regarded the girl from behind the angry teen, his lips pursed in disapproval. "You have committed a serious offense, Gabrielle. Taking away their free will is one of the worst crimes you can commit against another person," he stated gravely. Gabrielle snarled. "I've committed no crime zat you haven't committed against me first! You changed me for zis reason, deedn't you? Ve're supposed to be togezar but at ze last moment he turns into a scared little boy…" "Albus…" the boy let out another angry whine. "I cannot allow this to continue, Gabrielle," Albus said darkly, watching the boy's reaction to every sound the girl made. "You're power is unique, but you have used it in such a way that poses a threat to both myself and Henri." Gabrielle smiled evilly. "I 'ad no intention of inflicting eet on you, Albus." Albus' frown deepened even further, the man's normally cheerful disposition vanishing like being doused in cold water. "I'm afraid you'll never use that power in our presence again, my dear. I won't be letting my block on you fall as long as you are near us." Gabrielle turned her dark eyes on to Albus. "Vat makes you theenk you 'ave ze right to control me, Albus?" she shrieked, "You created me! I 'ave as much right to use my powers as you 'ave had ze right over all your years!" Henri's head lowered, staring at her through hooded eyes. He waited, teeth clenching, for Albus to drop his block. "You're power is dangerous, Gabrielle. The Volturi won't tolerate you using it as you do. You'll either join them or you'll die," Albus rebuffed gravely. Gabrielle bore into Henri, her eyes flashing and her throat working as she swallowed. "If I join the Volturi, vill zat be enough to show you zat I'm good enough for you, Henri?" She mocked. "You valk around here az if you preside over eet. You needed someone to knock you off your throne!" she snapped venomously. "I love you and you treat me az if I'm just some ozer girl on ze street."

Henri didn't respond, and it only fanned the flames for Gabrielle. "I'm clever and beautiful and kind!You said zat! But I mean nothing to you! Iz no one good enough for ze great Henri? You disgust me wiss your arrogance! How else do I make you realize vat iz right in front of you!" "You are out of line, Gabrielle," Albus warned. He felt the boiling pressure within Henri as he fought to keep himself from lashing out. He was waiting for a reason… just a reason. "I still love you, Henri! I vuld 'ave 'ad to try much harder for you to fall in love wiss me had you not 'ad any feelings for me! You cared about me, I know it!"she cried passionately, and Albus' eyes widened as the girl had the gall to step forward into Henri's space. "Eet wouldn't 'ave worked az easily az it did if you felt na-sing for me." Her words were intense as she stared wildly into his feral eyes. Henri's lips curled in a sneer as she stepped closer, causing him to loom even more threateningly over her. He saw the passion and love and… perseverance in her eyes. Stubborn stupid girl. "I did care about you," Henri hissed, not leaving her eyes for a second. She looked at him hopefully searching his eyes in desperation. He shook his head, a bitter smile crossing his face, "but I never loved you. I felt it, but it wasn't real, now was it?" He watched as shock engulfed her expression. "And you don't love me," he argued, "because if you loved me you would have cared more about me than you do yourself." Gabrielle's expression closed, and a cold sneer overtook her face. She shook her head, "I'll make you hurt one day, Henri. I'll make you hurt like you've never hurt before," she declared, inclining her head in defiance. "I svear to you, you'll regret zis… when you're world falls apart, you'll see." Albus recognized the threat, and with a twinge of regret, he let the blocks fall, for Henri would hate him for letting her get away with it. Henri's white hands clasped around her perfect throat, squeezing gently but enough to make Gabrielle's eyes widen. He peered harshly into her face, and Gabrielle's vision was consumed by the blackness of his eyes. Henri bared his teeth. "You all ready have, princess. I've hurt in ways that could drive you insane…"

Henri's power lashed out, searing through Gabrielle's eyes and engulfing her mind. She starred in horror back at her supposed lover. The night was pierced with the terror of her screams. Edward clenched his teeth as the memory washed over him, the remnants of Harry's anger lingering. He had taken a closer look into Gabrielle's mind, falling into her worst memory of Harry as it ran through. He watched as the wind tousled Harry's hair fondly as the other boy tilted his head in his direction. Edward shook his head, not wanting Harry to worry about it. Frankly, it was none of his business, but he was glad that he had seen it anyway. It made it that much easier to hate Gabrielle for using Harry as she had. Edward wanted to go to him, but figured it was best to save it for later. No use causing a scene in front of the… mostly pleasant company. Harry pursed his lips at Edward, wondering what he had heard to make him snarl like that. He knew Edward must have been listening to Gabrielle from the intense glare that he gave her before looking to Harry. Harry had a good idea of what the girl must have been thinking. He felt himself stiffen in distaste. The last thing he needed was for Edward to hear the various indecencies that undoubtedly floated through Gabrielle's head. "'enri! ça me fait plaisir de vous voir*" Fleur cried as she approached the stairs. Harry turned away from Edward just in time to see Fleur moving elegantly toward him. The Cullens were slightly taken aback by her heavy accent, as it definitely didn't fit her exterior. Her silvery shirt billowed slightly behind her as her long perfectly formed legs carried her forward. Harry descended the stairs slowly, matching her pace. He couldn't deny that he was very happy to see her. He let a slow smile made only for her cross his face as she came closer. She held out a delicate white hand to him, and he caught it, pulling it to his lips to set a kiss on the back of it. She smiled widely at him, her perfect teeth sparkling.

"Fleur," Harry greeted as she pulled him in for a hug as he let go of her hand. "Tu m'as manqué." He felt her hands bury in his hair, pulling it and taming it as she always tried to do. He brought a hand to cup the back of her head, the silkiness of her hair engulfing it. "Ah, ma chère," Albus called from behind them. Fleur pulled back slightly to get a better look at the man. "Tu es sembles rayonnante!" "Albus!" Fleur moved towards Albus as the man took her hand as well, pressing his lips to her hand. Edward looked intensely at Gabrielle who hadn't moved her eyes from Harry even as her sister moved to greet the rest of the party. She looked very disappointed, as if she had been expecting something that had not yet come to pass. He moved his eyes towards William. The man was smiling thoughtfully as he watched his mate greet her old friends. There was nothing threatening about William, other than the scarring that took over half of his face*. But he still had a rogue regality about him that Edward appreciated, and he knew that Jasper would probably feel the same way. "My dear, if you please. These are our friends, the Cullens. They live in the area as well," Albus said, as Fleur looped her hand through his arm, allowing herself to be led up the stairs to the landing as Harry followed. Albus made a sweeping gesture at Gabrielle and William. William offered his arm to Gabrielle and they both ascended the stairs to follow them, Gabrielle's eyes still following Harry's back. Harry smiled as Fleur greeted the Cullens. He watched her regard them calculatingly. Many thought Fleur was arrogant and thought herself above her company, and in some ways she was. She wasn't the type to humor people that she generally didn't like. She hadn't thought much of Harry until she saw how well he and her sister had interacted, and after finding out that Harry had in fact saved Gabrielle's life, she took it upon herself to gush over him at every turn. And of course, it was excessively difficult to not find Albus amusing. He watched as her nose scrunched slightly as she greeted Rosalie. She was half a foot taller than the other girl, and Harry saw her use

the difference to her advantage. Rosalie was very stiff in her greeting, and Harry saw Fleur take that as offensive. Her mouth pursed in displeasure, and Harry sighed, feeling slightly bad for Rosalie. She really didn't know what she was up against. He felt Edward move beside him, and he turned his head to look at him, the other boy's narrowed eyes studying him. He almost smiled when he saw the wind mussing his normally messy bronze-hair. He vaguely wondered what it would feel like, but decided against it. He didn't want Gabrielle to see anything between him and Edward. He wanted that secret for himself. Edward smirked at him, and Harry shook his head exasperated. 'Bite me.' "May I?" Edward whispered into his ear, his lips curling. Harry ran his tongue over his teeth. "And this is Edward Cullen." Albus' voice was close. Harry turned to see Fleur standing in front of them, but her eyes were on Edward, sizing him up. Edward kissed her hand, looking up into her beautiful face, feeling as though he were meeting royalty. Her face was straight but Edward saw the pleased look in her eyes. 'Il est très beau…' he registered from her, and smiled amusedly. Apparently Harry wasn't joking when he said he was one of the more dashing individuals he'd met. It seemed even Fleur Delacour agreed. He watched as her eyes moved from him to Harry, and then back again. Harry narrowed his eyes curiously as she observed Edward. "Quel âge avez-vous?" she said finally, asking for his age. Her head tilted to the side in question. "17 ans," Edward answered in perfect French. She nodded in approval, as if something in his answer pleased her. She turned her head, reaching for William's arm and pulled him forward, away from Gabrielle, who had been surprisingly silent for the duration.

"Albus, Henri, I vuld like you to meet William," Fleur announced, smiling adoringly at him. William smiled, bowing his head slightly, "I have heard many good things." Harry highly doubted that. Perhaps, living with both Fleur and Gabrielle, he would have heard a good amount of both good and bad things. "Fleur hardly shuts up about you," he continued. William had a soothing baritone, slightly rough as if he had been brought up in less than favorable conditions. "You are most welcome, I'm sure, William," Albus smiled, shaking the man's hand. He finally turned to Gabrielle, who had been standing behind the rest. "My dear, all these years and you haven't changed a bit." Gabrielle gave a tentative smile to Albus, "Maybe not een some ways…" Albus may have not been one for grudges, but he saw the pain in Gabrielle's eyes when he didn't automatically open his arms to her for a hug. After all, Harry was the thing he treasured most in the world, and he would be even more damned if he let her get away with hurting him again. He would watch out for the girl, as he was sure that a visit was the last thing on any agenda within the group. He shared a look with Harry, smiling internally in seeing Edward and Harry standing together in front of Fleur, Edward looking tall and powerful as he regarded Gabrielle. He had heard Harry's thoughts on them, and he understood Harry not wanting her to know anything about him and Edward, even if they weren't really anything yet. Harry liked his privacy, and letting someone like Gabrielle know something like that could produce an advantage for her. Albus had seen enough into her mind to know that there was bitterness there, and something floating just beneath the surface, but alas, Edward's power didn't have the depth that Aro's did. Albus was hard-pressed to know what Gabrielle's motives were, but he decided that it would have to be a wait-and-see matter. Albus knew he had made a lot of mistakes with Harry, but somehow his young friend always managed for forgive him, over and over again. Harry may have been cold hearted and defensive around

people he didn't know, but Albus knew that it was the only protection Harry had against the evils in the world. Harry had been hurt too many times to let just anyone close to him anymore. Gabrielle had been one such person, but once again, Albus had been remiss in his hopes for someone Harry could share his life with. This time, Albus wouldn't let her have such leeway. If Gabrielle used her power to hurt Harry again, Albus would kill her, if Harry didn't get to her first, even if it meant an eternity of mourning for Fleur. Fleur fussed over Harry while asking various questions about their lives since they had last seen each other, and Albus had answered generically as Harry humored the woman as she hugged him and tugged at his hair, trying to get it to straighten. "Oh, I 'ave always wanted to go to Japan, but I theenk zat we are most at home in Europe. We still have ze house that you gave us. It is still ze most beautiful place in France, in my opinion," Fleur boasted, her arm through Harry's. The Cullens looked shocked as Harry allowed the beautiful girl to manhandle him like she was, but Harry found her matronly nature very endearing. It was something that Gabrielle had tried to dissuade since they no longer had any hope of Harry ever being a part of their family, but Fleur didn't hold grudges quite like Gabrielle did. "'enri, you're hair is shorter…" Fleur admonished, running her hands through it again. Albus chuckled when he felt the jealousy from Edward. Rosalie looked disgusted by the show of affection that Fleur was willing to share, as if her own jealousy toward the beautiful woman was not enough to make her dislike Fleur all ready. Alice however, seemed to be swooning. Fleur eventually got distracted by complimenting Esme on the house, though taking care to hint that their house in France was a great deal grander. Esme insisted on a description of it. "Actually, it was Albus and Henri who commissioned to 'ave it built. We were given ze house after zey decided to leave France. We were most upset by ze turn of events, but I digress…"

"It is a wonder you have never visited before, Albus… Henri?" William started, his hands in his pockets. "It's such a beautiful property…" Albus frowned, as he could detect no mention of Gabrielle and Harry's history in his mind. Was it possible that they kept that secret from him? Albus smiled genially, "A house is but a house, William, and we are free spirits." "Ah yes, ze are," Fleur said fondly. "I should 'ave adored traveling togezzar." She seemed almost wistful, and Gabrielle shifted uncomfortably. Fleur glanced at her sister with unpleased eyes, but it was gone as soon as it came. She loved her sister, despite the stupid things she may have done in the past. An uncomfortable silence seemed to pass between the two parties. Albus looked concernedly at Harry, who was oddly detached from the situation. Edward regarded him with uncertainty, and Albus was sure he could feel it as well as he. The Cullens, save for Rosalie, had gone stiff at the thought that perhaps William wasn't aware of the situation, even though the only reason they knew was because of Alice and Edward, who would have found out eventually. Carlisle himself found it almost appalling that they would have been remiss in filling William in with all of their transgressions before asking him to join them. Albus decided to break the moment with an overly cheerful, "Shall we convene inside? My dear," he addressed Fleur, "I have a wonderful new treat I am dying to show you." Fleur giggled as she took William's arm. "You really must show me around, Esme. It's such a darling little place…" There was definite stress on the word 'little', but Esme ignored it as she followed them in, Carlisle and the rest with her. Edward made to go in as well when he heard a quiet voice behind him, addressing Harry. "'enri?" He stiffened, but continued on his way in. He desperately wanted to grab Harry and tow him away from the little harpy. As he made to

close the door, he saw Gabrielle standing in front of a cross Harry, who looked less than happy to be stuck alone with her. 'Albus has the block on her,' Harry assured, and Edward closed the door. Albus met his eyes as he walked into the living room, and Edward was surprised at the darkness in the old man's normally clear blue eyes. Harry crossed his arms, determinedly not looking at Gabrielle. He hadn't anticipated her calling him alone, almost certain that she would rather be in good company since the last they had been together resulted in one last warning from Harry if Gabrielle ever decided to cross him again. She seemed nervous, wringing her white hands in front of her as the wind blew her white-blonde curls away from her perfect face. There was a time when Harry had allowed himself to be in awe of her beauty, but now he saw only the ugliness that lie beneath. She tentatively raised her head, but didn't meet his eyes. "How 'ave you been, 'enri?" Her lips barely moved. Harry ran his tongue over his teeth, "I go by 'Harry' now." His voice was monotonous. Gabrielle nodded, "'arry, then." Her voice was softer than Fleur's, and her accent was less pronounced. "I've been excellent, thank you," Harry replied to her question. "And you?" He really didn't care. Gabrielle swallowed. Harry hadn't known her to be quite so nervous before. She had been headstrong and confident the last he had seen her. It seemed her attitude toward him might have changed since then. She seemed to be thinking carefully about her response. "I've been well, 'sank you. We're still in your old house. Still ze most beautiful property in France, I theenk." Gabrielle had always admired the house, and Harry had been loath to give it up. But the bad memories made it easier. "Good," Harry said, indifferently, "glad to know that you haven't let it

run down." "Not at all," Gabrielle said, licking her lips. "We were hoping zat someday you and Albus would come back to visit it. It's still your house, after all." Harry pursed his lips. They'd made it more than clear that they had no intention of coming back. The house had been left to the Delacours, as far as Albus and Harry were concerned. "I don't believe we will," Harry said firmly. "It's your house now, you've lived in it for over a thousand years. What you do to it is your business." Gabrielle sighed, looking to the woods. She still hadn't met Harry's eyes the entirety of the conversation. Harry felt a sadistic sort of satisfaction from that. She was still afraid of him. "We prefer it ze way it vas when you and Albus were still living zere," Gabrielle said quietly. "What is your purpose in saying that?" Harry said, growing frustrated. He was certain that he had scared her off from any desire for him again, though all the rumors suggested that she was still enamored with him, he had thought that perhaps it was just because she was afraid. His warning had had a lasting impression on her. "I'm sorry, 'enri," Gabrielle whispered. Harry narrowed his eyes at the beautiful girl. Never once in the aftermath of Gabrielle's betrayal had she ever apologized. "Did Fleur put you up to this?" he growled, and Gabrielle shook her head urgently. "No, she didn't put me up to any-sing," she said, starring hardly at the ground. "I don't believe you." His lips tightened when he saw Gabrielle's body stiffen. "It's been over a 'sousand years, 'enri. I'm not above admitting zat I was wrong…" Harry didn't have time for this. He didn't have the heart for apologies

and he didn't have the patience to listen. "What do you want from me, Gabrielle?" he hissed. He didn't know what Gabrielle was trying to accomplish by apologizing. She couldn't possibly be thinking that he would forgive her and it was impossible to entertain that he might want her back. Gabrielle shook her head, "I just… I need you to trust me, 'enri—" "Harry," he correct menacingly. Gabrielle nodded, looking desolate. "I know… zat you don't care for me anymore, 'arry, I do…" "Then save your apologies for someone who cares. When I said I never wanted to see you again, I meant it! What do you mean by tracking us down and expecting to be welcomed?" Gabrielle seemed like she was about to say something, but thought better of it at the last second. Harry narrowed his eyes when she hesitated. "We didn't… Fleur wanted to…" "'arry! Come along, darling! We 'ave much o talk about!" Fleur's musical voice traveled out of the house as she yelled. Harry sighed, as he wasn't done chewing out her little sister yet. He looked through the windows into the kitchen. Albus had situated himself in a chair in which he would be able to hear the conversation, and Harry saw the frown on his face. He was at such an angle with the window that Gabrielle wouldn't notice him, but Harry couldn't mistake the waterfall of white hair that partially covered the wrinkle-riddled face. Harry turned back to Gabrielle, some of his anger ebbing away. He recognized the dissatisfaction on her face as she crossed her arms and looked away. It seemed that Fleur had interrupted at an opportune time. He started up the steps, feeling Gabrielle's black eyes on his back. "'arry?" she called again, and Harry debated turning around. He saw Fleur looking out the window now, alongside Albus. He knew they had probably heard the conversation, but it was nothing the Fleur hadn't witnessed before.

Harry knew that Fleur hated that he and Gabrielle fought, but she understood what had happened with them, even if she hadn't witnessed it. Fleur would always consider herself in Albus and Harry's debt for giving her her sister back, and therefore, she chose to dutifully ignore the fights between the two. Harry turned, his hands in his jean pockets as he looked down at her. She was still looking away from him down the marble steps. "It's good to see you, 'arry," she breathed softly. Harry watched her for a second, before nodding and turning away again. He walked up the steps to the house, for some reason feeling more disturbed than he had before he had spoken to her. He hadn't gotten an answer from her before Fleur had interrupted, though he was sure she had been about to say something. It seemed he and Albus weren't the only ones with secrets. Fleur and William kept his mind off Gabrielle with their tales of how they met, and all the beautiful places they had visited. They had met a little over a hundred years ago. William had lived in England with a few remaining members of his family. He had been the eldest son of a poor merchant in the late 1700s, but he had lost most of his family in the Napoleonic Wars. He, along with two twin brothers, had been changed by a nomadic tribe of vampires during that time. When Fleur found him, he was alone, as his younger brothers hadn't the maturity to deny the carnal lust in human blood. He hadn't seen his brother's since. William continued his first hundred years alone as a nomad until he met Fleur and they fell madly in love. The question of how William got the scars remained unanswered. After what seemed like days, Fleur announced that she simply must bathe and get the nonexistent mud and branches out of her hair, and Albus announced that it was time to freshen up. After all, it was only two in the morning. Harry showed Fleur and William to their room on the second floor. It was one of the more spacious rooms in the house with a large flatscreen television, a wrap-around couch and wide balcony with a majestic view of the green outside. It was right below Harry's library on the third floor.

"Zis is simply wonderful, Henri!" Fleur praised as she entered the room. Harry had feeling like she was having him on, as Fleur was never so excited about a room that she hadn't overseen herself. "It is a little more modern zan we're used to, but I'm sure that zis will do very well indeed." "We really appreciate your hospitality, Harry," William said, being the only one of the party to use Harry's new name. Fleur didn't believe in using 'nicknames' as it were. Harry nodded at him, feeling slightly bad that he would be kicking them out in two weeks. If only Gabrielle weren't part of their group, they might have been able to stay longer. He turned to see Gabrielle at the door, looking around, still with the disappointed look on her face. His jaw clenched as he brushed past her to get to the door. "Where's your room?" Harry stopped, turning around to look at the girl. She was looking past him down the hall, not making eye contact. He ignored her and looked to Fleur and William, who had situated themselves on the couch, curling towards each other. "If you need anything, just call. Albus will be roaming around experimenting for most of the night," he said. Fleur smiled. She had been thoroughly pleased with the blood pops. "I'll leave you to your privacy," Harry finished, closing the door, and hoping against hope that Gabrielle wouldn't come looking for him. He zipped downstairs. Carlisle and Esme were still at the kitchen table with Albus, but it seemed like the rest had gone home. Esme looked up from the conversation. "Oh Harry! Edward is outside waiting for you," she smiled. "If you would like, Harry, the Cullens have offered you sanctuary in their house for the evening," Albus said, leaning back in his chair. "I think you might like to clear your head in a less than hostile environment," he chuckled. Harry spared a glance upstairs. "I shouldn't leave you to…" "I can take care of myself, Harry," Albus said, stubbornly. "If I need your help, I'll scream. Will that make you feel better?"

Harry blinked, before turning and walking outside. He heard Albus' hearty chuckles behind him. Albus smiled as he watched Harry exit the back door. Edward was seated on the marble stairs looking out over the green. He was thinking about the images from Gabrielle's memory. The beautiful house in France, the anger and disappointment on Albus' normally cheerful face, the absolute ferocity in which Harry bore into her, inflicting his mysterious power on her. That was the closest Edward had come to figuring out what Harry's power was. Now he knew that whatever it was, it had caused the terrorized scream that ripped from Gabrielle's throat moments before Edward ripped himself from her mind. Harry had to have been right, that Gabrielle didn't love him. One would never make the person they love stay with them if it didn't make them happy. But she cared deeply for him at one point. From what Harry had told him, they had once been great friends. Harry had been closer to Gabrielle than he had been to any other human in his life. She had been witty and clever and kind and beautiful… and Harry had cared for her. But he didn't love her. Edward wondered, with all those sorts of feats to Gabrielle's advantage, why hadn't Harry fallen for her? He heard Harry coming down the stairs and talking to Albus for a second. He heard Albus' suggestion for Harry to stay at his house that night. Harry was more than safe around the guests, but Harry's thoughts told him that he was barely able to be in Gabrielle's presence. He was appalled that she had even had the nerve to come find him. The back door opened, and Harry walked down the steps to Edward. He stood next to him, looking down at him. "Fleur and William settled in?" Edward asked, deliberately leaving Gabrielle's name out. "Fleur was mildly impressed with the room, surprisingly. She and William are watching sports, I believe." Harry said, still not sitting. He was anxious to leave, and Edward hated that Harry no longer liked being in his own home.

"Albus is going to be okay?" Edward asked. "With any luck, Gabrielle will do something stupid and she'll be wasted by the time I get back," Harry said harshly. "Course, that would make Fleur depressed and that would be a failing indeed," he continued, regrettably. Edward nodded, standing up. "Shall we?" He asked, and Harry nodded. They zipped through the forest, taking only five minutes to get to the Cullen's. Edward was faster than Harry, so he stayed in front for most of the way, slowing down every once in a while so Harry could run beside him. They reached the house, and Edward pulled open the backdoor for Harry to walk through. Jasper was looking slightly putout with Emmett cuddling up to Rosalie on the couch in the living room, a smug grin on his face. Alice was rubbing Jasper's back comfortingly. They all looked up as Harry and Edward entered the room. Rosalie sneered, "Your guests are horrible, Harry." "I'll agree with you on Gabrielle's count. Fleur might take some getting used to," he acquiesced. "She's never particularly friendly with people she's just met." "She seemed to like Edward well enough," Alice cut in. "She smiled at him at least." "What did she decide about us, Edward?" Jasper asked, slipping an arm around Alice. Edward smirked, "She thought you looked out of place." Jasper grumbled as Emmett started to laugh. "Sorry man. She didn't like Rosalie in the least. She thinks you seem to think too much of yourself." "That's her vanity kicking in," Harry amended. "She liked Alice's outfit, but thinks she's too thin," Edward continued. Emmett barked in laughter again. "Picky chick, isn't she?" "What about me?" Emmett asked, running his hand through Rosalie's

hair, trying to calm her down. "She really didn't have an opinion about you. She just thought you were huge," Edward laughed. Emmett smiled smugly. "Well at least that's out in the open. OUCH!" Rosalie buried her fist into his stomach at his rather blatant innuendo. "What was she smiling about with you, Edward?" Jasper asked again, shaking his head at Emmett. "She thought I was handsome and good at French," Edward smirked, and Harry chuckled to himself. "Take that as a compliment. She didn't even like me when she first met me," Harry said. He was thoughtful for a second, once again wishing he had known what exactly Fleur had been thinking. He was sure that she would tell him eventually. Most likely she liked people to wonder about her and would get frustrated once he decided not to ask. He chuckled again. He loved her, but it was funny to see her get exasperated. "So Harry! What do you say to a wrestling match?" Emmett called, grinning evilly. Rosalie looked like that might be something she would pay money to see. Harry shook his head, "I don't see what the use would be. You're younger than me, and therefore stronger… and huge." Emmett shrugged, as if to say 'what can you do?' and turned to Edward, "How 'bout you, Edward?" "I win every time, Emmett," Edward chuckled, "Mind reading and all?" "I'm stronger than you, you've been surviving on dumb luck," Emmett denied, grumbling. "Is that what it is?" Harry laughed under his breath. Edward turned to Harry. "What do you think?" He asked, and Alice swooned at how close Edward stood to the shorter boy. "Crack that whip, Harry!" Emmett guffawed. Jasper and Alice pursed their lips trying to hold in their own laughs. Harry, however, frowned in confusion.

"Crack…that…?" He tried to figure out what kind of relevance it had to the conversation, but soon forgot about it because in the time it took him to contemplate it, Edward had hauled Emmett into backyard. Edward won, of course, and Emmett's smugness from his previous victory had all but disappeared when Edward had anticipated Emmett's fake-out and thrown him to the ground, using his own weight against him. "Boys," Alice sighed. Harry smiled wryly when Edward threw him an elated smile. Evidently, Edward appreciated the rush even if he knew he would win due to his advantage. Harry decided that he liked the way that the Cullens got along. It must be nice having so many to be around, even if Harry himself disagreed with a few choices. He could do without Rosalie, but he was beginning to see how everyone in the family complimented each other. Even Rosalie's overcautious and frankly obnoxious nature seemed to thrive in this environment. Harry had a feeling that before he had arrived, they probably got along well enough. Harry admired what they had, and he was once again reminded about what he might have had if Didyme had lived and she and Marcus had joined Albus and Harry. Harry couldn't think of something he wanted more than all of them together again. Of course, as Harry's eyes met Edward's, he was beginning to think that he could make room for another in that fantasy. Now he just had to wait it out for two weeks until Gabrielle would be out of his hair. Edward brought Harry upstairs later that night. Harry had never actually seen the house, so Edward gave Harry a bit of a tour, which ended at his room. Harry expressed an interest in Edward's grand piano, and Edward said he would definitely play for him soon. Harry looked around Edward's room, surprised to see the amount of CDs that he had accumulated. They took up an entire bookcase on the one side of his room. He pressed play on the CD player, and Debussy's Clair de Lune filled the room. Edward came up behind him, smiling as he watched Harry let the

music engulf him. "This is one of my favorites," he said. Harry nodded, 'We met him. Albus and I attended the OpéraComique in Paris, his only complete performance. Three Nocturnes were our favorite.' Edward nodded. That performance had taken place the year after he was born in 1902. He wouldn't have been a year old when Harry had been there, taking care of Albus and making sure the old man didn't follow an urge to get up and start dancing to the medley. He contemplated the boy in front of him, and the reality of how old he was hit him for the first time. Harry looked younger than him, his face still holding hints of boyish youth yet his thin face and perfect cheekbones said otherwise. How could he hope to be something to Harry? Harry turned abruptly, looking up into Edward's eyes in question. Edward had moved forward so that his chest had been barely an inch from Harry's back. 'Something you want to say?' Harry asked. The moonlight cast shadows down upon the pair, making their white skin stand out even more. Edward marveled at how Harry had suddenly turned into a black-and-white painting, devoid of any color other than the emerald eyes, peering mysteriously at him. Edward smiled softly, shaking his head. He couldn't think of anything he wanted less. He just wanted to trace shadows on Harry's face. He wanted to run his hands down the lithe muscles in his arms and chest. No, he didn't want to talk. He wanted to touch. Edward pulled Harry's hands up into his own, holding them tenderly as Harry had in the car, running his thumb over his knuckles. Harry was looking at their hands with a thoughtful look on his face. He always looked thoughtful when they touched. Harry liked hands, Edward knew, from the way that Harry spent a long time on them. Edward entwined their fingers, towing Harry along with him as he backed up to the couch. Edward dropped down on the floor in front of it, sitting with his knees pulled up, still holding Harry's hands, urging him to sit with him.

Harry lowered as well, and Edward spread his legs just enough for Harry to turn and back in between them, resting his back against Edward's chest, and leaning his arms on Edward's knees. Edward brought his head around and rested his cheek next to Harry's. He inhaled and was enveloped in the smell of lilies, intoxicated by the feel of Harry's skin against his. Their hands were still clasped, and Edward ran his fingertips down bones of Harry's hand, then bringing them back up to travel the length of his fingers. He smiled softly as Harry caught him and proceeded to do the same to his hand. A light breeze swept through the room from the open window, ruffling the two boy's hair and grazing their skin. Harry's thoughts were strangely blank, not having any words to describe what he was feeling. All he knew was that the feel of Edward's hands dancing with his, and feeling the warmth** of his chest against his own back was something he was not familiar with. Edward's hands slipped to Harry's wrists, caressing them lightly as he nuzzled Harry's cheek, running his hands up Harry's arms until he came to his shoulders, massaging them gently. Harry leaned back as Edward's fingers came to massage his neck, feeling Edward's working jaw against his face. Harry moved a hand to trail up Edward's neck and finally rest in his soft bronze-hair. Edward exhaled against Harry's ear, and Harry smiled as he massaged his head as Edward did his shoulders. Edward brought his head back to place a kiss on the back of Harry's neck, lips grazing it softly, and blowing across the sensitive skin. Harry smirked as Edward's muscular arms finally pushed his hair away from his face, and then lowered to wrap securely around Harry's thin waist, snuggling up to his back and laying his cheek against Harry's shoulder. Harry put his arms over Edward's, and leaning his own head back to rest on Edward's own shoulder, sighing contently. Edward's legs pressed Harry's closely together, and Harry was enveloped in Edward's warmth, feeling completely secure and content.

Gabrielle was completely forgotten for that moment.

Ten: If I Could Be Your Angel, You'll Never Hurt Again "Favorite place in the world?" "The Louvre." "Why?" "What is this? The Spanish Inquisition?' "Answer, please." Harry sighed, throwing his head back on Edward's shoulder. Edward had been drilling him constantly for the past two hours. Whenever Harry answered, Edward had another question waiting; everything from his favorite color to his thoughts on the mating habits of African ants. "Harry?" Edward asked again, his breath rolling over Harry's face, his lips only inches from Harry's perfectly formed nose. He smiled, "The division of time. Every time you enter or exit a room, it's like you enter a different time, the drastic changes in the artwork. The builders planned it out very well." "Favorite artist?" "Monet." "Favorite person in general." "Albus." "Ouch." Harry laughed. "Sorry to disappoint, but it makes you feel any better you're slowly rising on that list." Edward quirked an eyebrow doubtfully, "How long is this list?" Harry narrowed his eyes in thought. 'Albus, Didyme, Marcus, Rosalie…'

Edward blanched, "That last one had better have been a joke." "Well-spotted," Harry smirked. Edward leaned his cheek against Harry's, smiling as he hugged the smaller boy to him. He adored how Harry felt against him. Harry didn't know just how long he and Edward sat together, just touching, holding, and feeling before Edward had felt the urge to start interrogating him. He knew that it had to be hours that Edward squeezed him, running his fingers over his chest, stroking his sides and gripping his hips before going back to wrapping himself around him. Edward didn't try anything else, and Harry thought that perhaps Edward was just content to be close to him. Edward blew across his neck and Harry could sometimes feel his eyelashes fluttering against the skin. He would place soft kisses on the back of his neck, down towards the top of his back and then up to bury his nose in Harry's hair. Harry knew that he wanted to touch Edward as well, but thought that for the moment he would let Edward take his turn. Besides, Harry liked Edward's hands, and he had a growing fondness for the workings of them as well. Every touch stimulated his senses in ways that had been forgotten for so long. Edward leaned his head forward once again laying his cheek on his shoulder facing Harry. Harry turned to look at him as Edward's red lips curled at the edges to form something of a half-smile. Harry decided that he liked that look the best so far. "I guess that means that I'm going to have to work harder, then." Edward's smile became a little more evil as his teeth sparkled. "Perhaps." Harry's own lips curled in amusement. He liked that Edward's smiles were most of the time adorable and sweet, but the evil smile that he was being treated to was decidedly more sexy than cute. Edward chuckled lowly, puffs of air hitting Harry's face. "I'll have you know that I can be very persuasive." 'And I'll have you know that I am incredibly stubborn,' Harry

challenged. Edward's eyebrows rose at that, wondering if it was an invitation, before deciding to take one leap of faith. His hands grasped at Harry's ribcage, turning him around to face him, Harry's legs falling underneath his right knee as he stared intensely into the other boy's eyes. His silent question was answered when he saw Harry's eyes sparkling madly. He was starting to realize that Harry had two different personalities: one that was detached and somewhat cold, and another that was passionate and impish. In a flash, Edward had Harry pressed against the soft carpeted floor, Harry's hair splayed in a black halo around his head, looking up at him with what must be construed as curiosity, wonder, and excitement. Edward kept his evil smile in place as he moved his knees to straddle either side of Harry's hips. Harry had to admit, he hadn't expected Edward to be so forward. Usually, people were more cautious around him, which he enjoyed to an extent. But since Edward had the advantage of knowing what he wanted before he even said something aloud, he was surprised to learn that he enjoyed the unknown. Especially when they involved touching. He deeply enjoyed the touching. Edward leaned forward, his palms on either side of Harry's shoulders, bending them so he was hovering over Harry, not quite touching his body yet, but the hem of his shirt brushed over Harry's skin where his own shirt had ridden up subtly. He leaned down, closer to the beautiful boy's face, slowly losing his mischievous smile as he was overwhelmed by his closeness to Harry's red lips. He faintly heard some rustling outside, but he couldn't bring himself to pay attention to anything else other than the slight part in the perfect bow-shaped lips. Usually, it was Edward who was doing the dazzling, but it seemed that Harry had turned the tables on him, and he could do little more than gaze dazedly at him. 'What now, Jethro?' The thought was wry, and a complete contradiction to the serene face before him. Edward smirked, and quickly began to take advantage of the fact that he was the one who could read minds, so he couldn't be blind-sided

to anything that could make Harry feel good. He bypassed Harry's lips, opting instead for a barely-there kiss to his neck, and he felt Harry's own sparks of pleasure echoing through his own body. His nose traced butterfly-soft patterns on the white column of Harry's neck, letting his cold breath roll over the skin. He articulately placed kissed along Harry's jaw, leaning up even more so that Harry's wild hair tickled his cheek as he kissed the soft area behind Harry's ear. Each kiss to Harry's skin set fire to his senses. Harry's skin was like tasting the wind, feeling it all over his body, and amongst everything else, he felt Harry's pleasure as ardently as if Harry were placing the kisses upon him. Edward felt otherworldly. Harry had been kissed before, many times over the years. Some had been merely an experiment, some had been genuine, and some had been… forced. He pushed Gabrielle from his mind, hardly in the mood for her to ruin this… completely surreal moment. Edward was different from all of them. He was new, and not much was new to Harry. Edward continued to shock Harry out his pre-conceived notions of what touching, kissing… and romance were, and feeling Edward was far more than faint tingles in one's stomach that had him practically mourning in disappointment. He had never been so glad to be wrong, as he had sparsely hoped that a feeling like what he felt with Edward could ever be real. Edward's tongue traced Harry's collarbone, and Harry brought his hands up to bury in Edward's hair, pulling at him softly to lower himself closer because, Merlin! He wasn't close enough. Edward had said that he hadn't been with or even been attracted to anyone before Harry. Could Edward really be this good at improvising? Edward growled at the pull, ravishing Harry's neck and shoulders, and Harry tugged more just to hear that sound again. Edward delivered hard bites to Harry's throat, which vibrated as Harry moaned and clawed at Edward's hair, pulling harder as his eyes darkened from sparkling green to pure black. Edward grew bolder by the second, with every tug from Harry's hands. He loved the feel of Harry's hands in his hair, tugging him closer. Harry wanted him. Edward almost burst with happiness. The shocks left Harry wanting more, but then he reasoned that there couldn't possibly be anything more perfect than this. While mere

kissing and touching might leave humans moving forward quickly, this seemed like the climax in itself. He couldn't fathom that anything could feel better, there couldn't possibly be more. Edward felt as though he might burst from the combined rush of emotions from both himself and Harry, but they seemed to be in sync with the thought that this was it. After this, they could possible hit a plateau, and Edward wasn't ready for that yet. But as he met Harry's lips finally, his arms fell out, and he landed perfectly on top of Harry. The shocks of their bodies colliding fully, every part of themselves touching the other, aligning so perfectly was practically more that both of them could bear. Edward thought a few neurons in his brain might have exploded. If he thought it were possible to feel the universe, he had just felt it. Quite frankly, he couldn't handle the onslaught of pleasure and emotions that coursed through him. He pulled back reluctantly, but the echo of tasting Harry completely on his lips still lingering potently on his tongue. He didn't realize that his eyes had fallen closed, but when they opened again, he realized that not only had something very embarrassing just happened that he hoped Harry wouldn't realize, but it seemed that his color perception had been messed up, because if he wasn't mistaken, Harry's hair was black… Harry slowly came down from his temporary high, but was slightly grateful because he wasn't at all prepared for Edward's lips or body to come crashing down on him, shaking him so perfectly and creating feelings that were… There were no words. He felt Edward's eyes on him, and looked up, not entirely sure what to expect, but thinking that he couldn't possibly be the only one that had felt such… earth-shattering pleasure and bliss. He was taken aback by the strange look he was receiving though. Edward was contemplating his forehead bemusedly. Of all the things Harry had been expecting, perhaps a look of shock, mortification, or wonder… he wasn't expecting that. Edward reached a hand up tentatively. "Harry… what…?" He passed a hand through Harry's hair, causing a few strands to fall into Harry's

eyes. Harry suddenly understood Edward's confusion, and promptly started laughing. It seemed that the feel of his own emotions and Edward's lips and body against his had stripped him of his inhibitions, and more importantly, his control. Over his own powers, anyway. His previously jet-black hair had turned a sonic blue from root to tip. "I was not expecting that," Edward said, still a bit dazed as he fingered the locks. "Is this going to happen every time?" "I seriously hope that's not why you pulled back so suddenly," Harry breathed, still lying underneath Edward, who had yet to move. Edward looked down into Harry's eyes, which were darker than usual. He was persuaded against thinking that Harry was displeased by the pleasurable feelings in his thoughts and elated smile on his face. "Sorry. You're a bit much to take," he teased, tracing a finger down the side of his face. Harry's eyes strayed thoughtfully, "Albus has said that to me a few times. Marcus too." Edward laughed, "I don't mean it that way. I just… it felt…" Edward wasn't used to not having words for something. Harry nodded though, his eyes slightly glazed. "Feeling is mutual, I assure you." Edward smiled. He lowered to his elbows, letting them support his upper body as he leaned down again, running his hands through Harry's now blue hair, making it stand up slightly. His lips quirked affectionately as he spoke, "You know, whenever anyone else talks about what it's like… to feel like you're completely designed for someone else, I never really believe it. A bit too cynical for that, I guess." His hands found their way to the back of Harry's head, and entwined together to cradle him, and Harry leaned back against them, a soft smile etching its way across his face. "This doesn't feel like anything they ever said it would be," Edward said, looking at though he were thinking really hard about the subject.

"Somehow… it's so much more." It seemed like Edward was in either complete pain or complete nirvana as he spoke. His voice was breathless and husky, and Harry hung on his every word. "It's like… feeling everything and nothing at the same time. When I touch you…" he leaned his forehead against Harry's, "…I break into a million pieces, and yet..." staring hard into emerald eyes, "I'm complete." A blissful smile broke across Harry's face as he stroked Edward's wrists that cradled his head. It made perfect since, and yet didn't do any justice at all. Edward nodded in understanding, and Harry felt his affection for Edward grow even more. It was nice not having to say anything and still be understood. "EDWARDO!" Edward groaned as Emmett bellowed from outside. What a moment for him to ruin. "HAROLD!" Harry sighed, laying his head back. Harry was short for 'Henri', contrary to popular belief. "We're going out to eat, you coming!" Edward scowled. "It's EDWARD!" He called back, and they heard a loud snort in response. He reluctantly lifted himself from Harry's body, and Harry watched in mutual dismay. As Edward got up, he suddenly remembered a slight problem that he had forgotten about after the shock of seeing Harry's blue hair. He turned slightly, shielding himself from Harry's view, but the smug smile from Harry said that he had already seen. "Best change before your abominable brother comes up to speed us along," He waggled his eyebrows. Edward laughed, thankful Harry was the kind to embarrass him the way he was sure others might. Harry's hair turned black again and he set about straightening his clothes as Edward changed jeans. Harry graciously turned the other cheek as he did so, but Edward wouldn't have minded if he didn't. Suddenly, Emmett was in the room. The boy must have shot upstairs when the pair hadn't immediately come down to join them. "I don't suppose the two of you care that Jasper is a pig and therefore has to eat about every two hours!" He declared as he entered, stopping short when he saw a disheveled Edward zipping his jeans while Harry ran a hand through his tufted hair with a guilty smile on his face.

The smile turned amused when Emmett took on a very parental tone. "Don't you two kids think you're moving just a little too fast? I mean come on, it's been what, a week?" His face was then obscured with feathers as Edward threw a pillow at him, his ensemble then completely in place. They took off through the window, landing close to Jasper and Alice. Alice smiled sweetly at him, "Harry, you haven't come down to play with us at all in the past five hours! I want some time with you as well. Edward, stop hogging him." "You only want him for dress-up, anyway," Edward chided, smiling. Harry blanched from beside him. Jasper laughed, hands in his pockets, but he kept glancing towards the forest. Frankly, he hadn't wanted to wait, but Alice insisted. "Can we get the show on the road? You can talk and run at the same time, right?" Alice patted him on the head sympathetically and nodded. They all took off into the twilight. Harry ran with elation, enjoying the precious few more hours he had before returning home to rescue Albus from the wolves. Albus, Carlisle, and Esme had situated themselves in Harry's library in the early hours of the morning. Fleur, Gabrielle, and William had yet to emerge from their room so Albus figured they must be having some very meaningful conversation. He was always one to pry, but for the moment, he thought it best to entertain his guests instead of snooping around their room on the second floor. Instead, Carlisle expressed an interest in the literature that the library had to offer, so Albus showed them to Harry's fortress, as he had come to call it. The first thing Carlisle noticed about the room was the painting that he had been given from the Volturi was hanging above the mantel piece in the center of the room, looking very small and antique, yet perfectly at home in the expansive library that seemed to take up most of the third floor. "Harry certainly loves to read," Esme commented in awe, looking at

the stacks of books and shelving that covered the room. She hadn't designed this room for a library, so she assumed that they had renovated it by themselves, knocking out a few other rooms in the process. "He accumulates a lot," Albus remarked, regarding Harry's collection fondly. Albus had loved to read himself, but Harry wasn't as prone to distractions as Albus was. "His library in France was a great deal more expansive than this, but he makes good use of the space." "The house in France sounds very grand, Albus," Esme said, as Carlisle began to scan the book spines. "I would love to see it one day." "I'm sure Fleur would love to give you the grand tour," Albus said cheerily. "It was one of my better investments. I can only hope that they have put it to good use." Carlisle turned from the large floor-to-ceiling bookcase. "Why give up the house if you loved it so much?" "It seemed like the easiest way to make both parties happy. Harry and I can easily adapt in any place we choose, while leaving Gabrielle with nothing would have only created more controversy. We can have another house with the same likeness built, if we choose to." Carlisle nodded in agreement, "And have you decided how long you plan to stay here before moving on again?" Albus tilted his head thoughtfully, "I have given it some thought. We can't stay here nearly as long as we did in Osaka, obviously. We seem to attract a great number of people in this area. I can't begin to tell you how many house calls we're getting," he chuckled. "Probably upon Harry graduating high school, we'll begin preparation to move again. Perhaps to Peru! Beautiful country, I do say…" And with that, Albus went off on another tangent. Carlisle frowned. "I hope you will give some thought to joining us, Albus," he suggested hopefully. Quite frankly he didn't know if Albus was having him on, as he was known to do, by telling them that they would leave, without at least insinuating that the Cullens join them, especially as Harry and Edward had gotten so close. "I know that you

and Harry have only ever traveled alone, but might you consider…" "I admit, I have thought about it!" Albus cut in, as if he had been thinking it the entire time and was astounded that Carlisle had thought otherwise. Esme giggled amusedly as Carlisle sighed exasperatedly. "I should hate to have to separate Harry and Edward as it seems they have forged a bond together." His wrinkled face became more severe suddenly though, as he turned and ran his bony fingers along the painting on the mantel. "Certain things must be taken into account, however… and I would be loath to drag your delightful family into my own tangled web of mistakes." Esme and Carlisle exchanged a look together, before regarding Albus again as the old man contemplated the painting where the Volturi stared out at them. Albus' suddenly cold demeanor was contagious, and Esme and Carlisle were swept up with it too, as anything that could make the carefree Albus Dumbledore concerned was something that shouldn't be overlooked. Albus turned abruptly to the concerned looking pair. He frowned, "What's wrong? Have I said something? Oh, dear, I've concerned you, haven't I. Terribly sorry, I tend to get carried away from time to time, only usually Harry is here to shake me out of it." "What has you thinking that perhaps leaving together is not a good idea, Albus?" Carlisle asked, still frowning. Albus shook his head, "Of course it's a good idea. Any idea that keeps Harry happy is bound to be a good idea, but once again, my past mistakes are binding us. I'm wondering about the ramifications of such a union. You are a largely gifted group all ready, and I worry about the… attention that it attracts… or had all ready attracted." Carlisle's eyes slipped to the painting beside Albus' head. Suddenly, Albus' train of thought seemed to transfer. Albus and Harry had once refused the offer to join the Volturi in Italy. How would they react if they caught wind that they had joined up with Carlisle instead, one who all ready had access to the powers of a mind-reader, an empath, and Alice's clairvoyance.

Albus knew that Carlisle saw his meaning, and his face was grave. Carlisle shook his head, "You created the Volturi. Surely…" "Surely Aro knows that bringing his guard against Harry and I would be most inconvient, and frankly moronic as well. I can block their powers, and Harry has an awful temper," Albus cut in with a nod. "Unfortunately, greed is incorrigible, and most of the time blinding. I do not think that Aro would attack Harry or myself. Too many of his coven, including himself, Caius, and especially Marcus, are fond of us, and wouldn't make an effort against us. My concern is for you." Carlisle felt the cold grip of dread on his heart as Esme's eyes widened at the thought of her family being threatened. Her golden eyes had darkened to black defensively. Albus smiled sadly, "Your family has rejected Aro three times, if I am correct. Once by Edward, once by Alice... and once by yourself, Carlisle. I was surprised when I learned that your family bore so much talent in a large group, yet were still allowed to exist. Nevertheless, I'm sure that you have not been overlooked. I think you've stayed under the radar as well as you can, as Harry and I have. Two groups together, however, might be seen as… unfavorable." "Aro is a friend of mine," Carlisle said thoughtfully. "He has never made a threat before…" "He wouldn't. I'm afraid he inherited that trait from me." Albus smiled bitterly. "In a time when I believed in the hierarchy of some vampires to others, if I wanted something, or disapproved of something, I would bide my time until something happened that would justify any action made to bring it under my own control." "Like aligning ourselves with powerful vampires… like yourselves." Esme whispered, shaking her head, thinking of the heartbreak that she would suffer… that Edward would suffer if he were forced to separate from Harry. "I have seen many instances where Aro has done that very thing. A smaller coven than yours once had a great deal of talent, thriving for centuries, but it didn't take much for Aro to send the guard to dismantle them for his own selfish intentions."

"And what that coven do to provoke him?" Esme asked, stone still. "A human found out they were vampires, yet they didn't kill him." Bella sighed as she started her truck, pulling out of the driveway to head over the Newton's where she would meet Mike and the rest of the group to head to the beach in La Push. She was thoroughly disappointed that Harry had declined her invitation, and noted with exasperation that Mike seemed to be pleased by the news. She knew he was going to try and make an offer to her for the dance, but she wasn't in any good humor to be accepting. She was far too lost in her own world to want anything to do with the real world. Harry and Edward were together. She had seem them holding hands a few minutes before the van came flying around the corner, intent on taking her life. Her heart broke at the perfection of the pair, at how Edward looked at Harry, and how Harry stroked the other boy's hand as if it was extraordinarily precious. She swallowed. Those few moments that she had been close to Edward after he saved her from the van were intoxicating, playing over and over again in her head, yet he looked as though he couldn't wait to be away from her. She couldn't understand why he would save her life if he hated her so much. And Harry. He had been so nice to her at the beginning, but then he seemed withdraw. It seemed as though he was trying to keep himself from getting too close. 'Everyone that gets close to him gets hurt.' If that were the case, then why was he letting Edward… or the rest of the Cullens, near him? Newton's came into view through the windshield, and Bella pulled into the parking lot, seeing Mike and Jessica standing with a few others by Mike's Suburban and a Sentra. She didn't know what she wanted from the pair or the rest of the Cullens. But she knew she had a want… almost a need to be near them, with them. She felt a connection to them, especially Harry and Edward, even if the fact that she could never actually be anything special to them was starting to sink in. She didn't care. She could deal with that. What she couldn't deal with was leaving them alone and moving on.

"Bella! Glad you could make it!" Mike said, grinning like a fool. It was almost cute the way he was always so excited to see her. She almost wished she could like him the same way, but with the images of Harry and Edward in her mind, there was really no competition. She smiled politely as Mike came forward, rubbing his hands together. "Will you ride with me? It's either that or Lee's mom's minivan." Bella nodded, and Mike looked blissful. "You can have shotgun," he promised, and Bella could feel Jessica's glowering stare on the back of her head. She did indeed get shotgun. She managed to get Jessica between her and Mike in the front seat, so she was only slightly pushed up against the window in the passenger seat. She didn't mind though, as it would keep Mike's eyes on the road and not on her. She'd had one too many car accidents all ready. Plus, it would be that much better if Jessica got Mike to go out with her anyway. Bella's attention was elsewhere. The drive was nice, but short. Jessica kept up most of the conversation by herself, so there wasn't much call for Bella to do anything besides listen, spacing off from time to time. She found it relaxing for the most part. The sun was gracing them with its presence, and she tried to soak up as much of it as possible. The beaches at La Push were beautiful, to be sure. She had been there many times as a child, but had long since forgotten just how majestic they were; tall cliffs that shot down into the gray water, which lapped up on the rocky shore and shimmered beautifully in the sunlight. It was a beautiful day to be at the beach. Bella just wished she were with more preferable company. They parked the car and the boys raced down to the water, carrying rings of driftwood in their arms to a fire pit that was all ready set up. She laughed at their antics as they scoured the beach for more. It seemed as though Eric, Mike, and Tyler were in a bit of a contest for her attention as they fought over each piece of wood.

Bella stood by the beach, watching it spread into the golden horizon. She regarded the space beside her on the rocks, imagining Harry with her, or even Edward. She thought about how the golden sun might cast itself on their skin, making it seem as if they were golden as well, shimmering with the light reflected from the water. She smiled as she thought about how Harry's beautiful emerald eyes would sparkle and his red lips would work various witty remarks to her. She thought about how Edward's unruly bronze hair would tuft out as the wind from the swells hit him, and how his penetrating golden eyes would bore into her as if seeing her from the inside out. But most of all she imagined how the shadows cast from the perfect angles in their faces would transform them both into graceful statues on the shore, side by side, bodies leaning toward each other like a sculpture that couldn't stand alone, because it was created to stand by the other. "Bella! Ever seen a driftwood fire?" She was broken from her blissful imaginings by Mike's yell, and sighed as she turned to humor him in his quest for her attention. Bella spent most of the rest of the trip trying to stay away from the group as much as possible, even going so far as to take a hiking trip when she saw that Tyler and Eric would stay behind, leaving her with only one hormonal boy to fend off. When they arrived back however, the group seemed to have grown. A group of boys from the Quileute reservation had joined them. Eric introduced them as they arrived, and one boy, whose name was Jacob, looked up interest as Eric said Bella's name. After her bench buddy, Angela, got up to take a hike with another boy, Jacob took her spot next to Bella, introducing himself as Billy Black's son, the man that sold her her truck. "I rebuilt the engine, but don't try going over sixty," Jacob laughed. Bella couldn't help but laugh as well. The boy was cute, roughly fourteen or fifteen in age, she guessed, with long black hair and russet-colored skin. His black eyes were friendly, and his remarks were quick and witty. Bella decided she liked him. "Do you know Bella, Jacob?" A hostile and rude girl named Lauren asked from across the driftwood fire. She hadn't liked the attention

that Bella drew when she arrived at the school, and took not chances letting Bella think otherwise. Jacob fended her off easily, saying that they had known each other since they were born, and Bella appreciated not having to say anything once again. Then, Lauren brought up something unbidden. "It's too bad none of the Cullens… or Harry could come today, don't you think? You did ask, didn't you?" Bella pursed her lips. Lauren also didn't approve of her fascination with the Cullens, or the fact that Harry spoke to her at all. A taller boy from the reservation looked over at that, "Dr. Carlisle Cullen's family?" His tone suggested that even Carlisle's name was distasteful. "They don't come here," he continued firmly. Jacob shook his head, smiling lightly, but Bella was intrigued. The way the boy had put it… not only did the Cullens not come there, but they weren't allowed to either. Jacob tried to pull her away from the hostile territory, engaging her in some lighter conversation. He asked her to walk with him down by the beach, and Bella, not wanting to turn down another chance for more information, agreed. Bella liked Jacob immensely. He had a wit about him that reminded her of a more childish Harry. Where Harry's own wit was wry and knowing, Jacob's was playful and shy. Bella could easily see herself being friends with him, and felt bad for what she was about to do, but her curiosity was insatiable. "Who was that guy that Lauren was talking to?" Bella asked when she found an opening in the conversation. "Sam, Sam Uley." "What was he saying about…" Bella figured she might have to amend her questions to sound like idle curiosity if Sam was to be taken seriously. If there were more the story than just that the Cullens just didn't come to La Push, she would have to be less direct. "…about that doctor's family?" She tried to sound as innocent as possible. "Dr. Cullen? Oh, it's nothing, they're just not supposed to come on to the reservation."

That certainly proved Bella's theory. He didn't say anything about Harry though. Perhaps Harry wasn't related to the Cullens as everyone else seemed to think. "Why's that?" She asked again. Jacob blushed. "Oops. I'm not really supposed to say." 'No!' Bella panicked at the thought that perhaps Jacob was closing her off. "I wouldn't tell anyone. I'm just curious." She flinched at her own attempt at flirting, fluttering her eyelashes as she'd seen some girls do. Internally, she was disgusted with herself for using the cute boy so, but in the name of research… Jacob seemed to fall for it, leaning toward her. "Do you like scary stories?" His dark eyes alight with mischief. Bella nodded, smiling invitingly at him, or at least she hoped that was what she was doing. He smiled, guiding her over to a tree where he perched on the large roots, and Bella sat close to his feet, trying not to appear as desperate as she felt. "There are stories from Quileute tribes, kind of like old folktales. Some are about how we descended from wolves, and how they are still brothers to us," his eyes sparkled, and Bella saw that he was taking pleasure from causing her excitement, "and others are about… the cold ones." "The cold ones?" Bella asked, trying to keep herself from leaning forward as Jacob leaned toward her. Jacob nodded, smiling. "Some stories say that they are older than our ancestry is; much older. Some stories are more recent though. They say that my own great-grandfather knew some of them, and made a treaty with them to keep them off of Quileute land." Jacob chuckled, as if he didn't believe his own story. Bella egged him on though, so he continued. "The cold ones are the natural enemies of the wolves. Well… not really wolves. You'd know them as werewolves." He laughed again. "Anyway, the cold ones are their enemies, but the pack that came in my great-grandfather's time was different. They didn't hunt like the others, and so they weren't thought of as a threat to the tribe. Ephraim Black, my great-

grandfather, made a pact with them to keep them off our land, and he wouldn't expose them to the pale-faces." Jacob winked at her. Bella felt her heart stop for a second. "So… the Cullens are like the cold ones your great-grandfather met?" Jacob quirked his brows, smiling again. "No… they're the same ones." He seemed thoroughly pleased with himself for getting Bella to the edge of her seat. "There are more of them now, a new female and male. But the rest are the same. Carlisle's been here before. They leave and come again many years later, it's said." Jacob shrugged. It was becoming clear to Bella that Jacob thought the entire thing was rubbish, but she didn't let up. "So… what are they, then?" "Blood drinkers," Jacob answered, "or vampires, as you'd call them." Vampires. Bella turned her head to the surf to shield the emotions that floated across her face unchecked. Jacob looked concerned. "There, you see? That's why my dad doesn't want us to talk about it anyone. Next thing you know, people start getting spooked and then the Cullens get the full impact of our stupid legends. I guess I just violated our treaty with them, then." Jacob laughed nervously, still regarding Bella's ashen face. "Bella?" Bella smiled as easily as she could, but it took some effort. "I'll take to my grave." Suddenly, Edward's enflamed eyes erupted across her mind, and she shivered. She spent a little more time convincing Jacob that he hadn't permanently ruined her night, insisting that he was just really good at telling scary stories, and that he should definitely come and visit her in Forks once he was old enough to get his license. It didn't take long for Mike to find them, taking his time to appraise Jacob before deciding that his youth prevented him from being a threat. Bella shook her head at the stare-down between the two boys, and told Jacob that she would see him soon. She spent the ride home contemplating what he had told her, and making a list of all the unusual things she had observed about the Cullens… and Harry. Harry did have unusually cold hands…

Harry had bid a very reluctant farewell to Edward when they had parted in Edward's meadow, as Harry had come to call it. It was quickly becoming one of his own favorite spots as it was very far out and unlikely for one to have unexpected guests. He and Edward had spent another hour or so of interrogation there, only that time, Harry had been the one asking the questions. "Favorite color?" Harry had joked, as that was the same question Edward had started with earlier that morning. "Green," Edward had replied instantly. "Care to elaborate?" Harry pushed sarcastically. At that, Edward peered closely into Harry's eyes, and Harry snickered. "Deep emerald green, the kind that you can stare into for hours and still see specks of other shades." "You're being obscenely cheesy," Harry said as he shook his head. "I feel obscenely cheesy, truth be told," Edward had laughed back. Harry had charged on, his questions becoming deeper as the time passed. "Favorite memory," Harry had asked again. "You should know. You were there." Harry smiled fondly at the memory. It had been a good memory, for sure, but he hadn't thought that it could have been Edward's favorite. He broke through the woods, stopping short when he found none other than Fleur Delacour sitting pristinely on the tier, looking very put out. She brightened, however, upon seeing him. "Darling! Oh 'enri, where 'ave you been? It's been hours…" "It's Harry, now, Fleur," he corrected, but Fleur merely shook her head, insisting that she didn't do nicknames. "I was hunting, and spending some time with the Cullens." "They must be very good friends, for you, darling. I'm so happy that you and Albus are branching out and not just fading in an out as you

please." Harry chuckled. "It comes in handy, but we stay for shorter periods when we… branch." Fleur waved her hand, sighing. "Well, in any case, the Cullens seem like a very good group…" "They are, Fleur." "I especially like that boy… Edwin?" Fleur asked thoughtfully. Harry snorted, "Edward." "Ah yes. Very handsome, indeed." Harry couldn't agree more. Fleur slipped her arm through his and proposed a walk around the green. Harry obliged amusedly as she swooned and fawned again over how handsome he had become, though they both knew that he hadn't changed at all. "I believe you become more debonair with age, 'enri. Come tell me, are you seeing anyone?" Harry didn't want to lie… but at the same time he didn't want to say that he was 'seeing' Edward… in fact… he was quite certain they had completely bypassed the 'seeing' part. "Ahhh…" Fleur said knowingly. "There, now. Don't make yourself uneasy. I'll not pressure you. Gabrielle hasn't been seeing anyone really. A few humans here and there, but I suppose you could call those flings." Harry didn't particularly care to hear about Gabrielle's love life, but it would take Fleur's attention away from his, then he was all for it. "Hardly surprising. With her gift, she could have anyone she wanted." "Not anyone, darling. I don't think I can apologize enough for her actions against you, but I must at least try to persuade you to forgive her. She was young and in love. Women have done many a stupider thing under the influence of love." "I'm sure you're right, darling," Harry said as they strolled across the

grass and along the tree line of the woods, Fleur moving as though walking on clouds. "I should hope that she's grown up since we last saw each other." "She has, very much," Fleur said sadly. "Sometimes I fear that her power will keep her from finding a true mate, though. It's hard when you find something you want, and have the ability to turn the situation in your favor, yet must hold back in an effort to see if the feeling is mutual or not." Harry nodded. He could sympathize with Gabrielle, but found that, in the past, every time he had let sympathy crawl in, the little witch had used it to her advantage, making him feel more guilty for not just letting her die. "Is it really that hard to revert back to the human way of doing things?" Harry wondered aloud, and Fleur turned her beautiful face toward him. "I know that you want me to forgive her, and maybe that's the reason you're here, but we agreed a long time ago on the fact that we couldn't be lovers or even friends. We tried. You were there." Fleur's lips pursed in regret, and Harry took no pleasure in seeing her like that. "I'm glad that I can see you again. I'm glad that you are happy with William. But I can't trust Gabrielle. Frankly, the only reason I can even stay here knowing that she's this close is because Albus is here." Fleur nodded, squeezing his arm almost in comfort. "Can you honestly tell me that if Albus wasn't blocking her that she wouldn't be controlling me again?" Harry asked. Fleur looked at him again, her dark eyes contemplating. "You were her first love, 'enri. She'll never get over the temptation. She still loves you, maybe even more since she knows that she can't have you. She has changed, 'enri. But rest easy, I have no hopes for you two any longer." Her sad smile turned bitter, "It's Gabrielle's own fault. I haven't forgiven her yet for depriving me of you as a brother-in-law, either." Harry laughed elatedly. "Oh… Fleur. I really do miss you." Fleur smiled graciously. "Of course you do. Now, tell me all about this significant other. You don't have to mention any names, we'll keep it

between us, but I must have my say in this relationship, and I'll not rest until I know if they're good enough for you, " she pulled him close and shook a finger at him sternly, "because not many are." "Well, if I need your approval, can I just say that he looks, sounds, and acts just like William and be done with it?" Harry smiled cheekily, and Fleur patted him on the cheek in a mock slap. The entirety of the time that Harry spent vaguely describing Edward's better attributes, the memory of the shocking kiss swirled in his head, and perhaps it was the novelty smile on his face that made Fleur instantly approve. Bella stared at her computer screen in dread. She had spent the past hour or so getting frustrated at her frightfully slow Internet, typing in only one word. Vampire. Two answers stood out from the rest. The Romanian Varacolaci, a powerful undead being who could appear as a beautiful, pale-skinned human, and the Slovak Nalapsi, a vampire so strong and fast as to massacre an entire village in a single hour. Her mind took her back to the crash when Edward saved her life, flashing to her side and pushing the van away from her so fast that no one had even seen him move. Looking at the beautiful and perfect faces of Harry and the Cullens almost every day at school raised the ante as well. But if everything that Bella had ever heard about vampires was true… they shouldn't be able to be out in the daytime, for the sun would burn them to ashes. Bella looked at the clouds outside, shielding the sun completely. Even on a cloudy day, vampires wouldn't take such a chance, would they? But the Cullens, according to Jessica, took the nice days off from school to go hiking…. Okay, so they were vampires… or they were something like vampires… Harry's warning suddenly made sense, but they couldn't possibly be evil, could they? They spent the majority of their time in the presence of… human… blood. Bella realized that she had two options: The first, she could heed

Harry's warning and stay away from him and the Cullens, or the second, she ignore the warning completely and continue her pursuit. It seemed more like a choice between life and death, but Bella was sure that since she all ready knew this much, she couldn't possibly be expected to stay away. The decision was easy. After all, in such a small town where everyone noticed everything, what could they do? Kill her?

Eleven: You Take My Hand and Drag Me Head First, Fearless "What did I tell you?" "I don't recall you saying anything pertaining to this situation." "I said no funny business." "This is far from funny, my friend." William laughed from his place, sprawled on the couch. "I quite disagree, Albus." Albus stood in the center of the kitchen, holding his arms out gracefully with a pair of new rollerblades strapped to his feet. Harry stood off to the side, shaking his head and pinching the bridge of his nose in exasperation. Fleur was frowning as well, "I agree with 'enri, Albus. No rollerblading in the house." "My dear, you are far out of your depth if you're telling me what to do. I'm as good as your father," Albus said in a stern, yet cheerful voice. Harry smiled amusedly as he knew Albus was the only person who could contain the two emotions in one voice. Fleur crossed her arms. "I'm not worried about you, I'm worried about the floor. If you fall, you'll create a dent." It was uncanny how Fleur had started acting as if Harry and Albus' house was her own so quickly. Harry laughed at her scandalized expression as Albus moved about testily. "Where did you get those?" Harry asked.

"I found them at the outdoor market when Fleur and I went to get some greenery for my new garden," Albus answered, rolling across the floor with a look of delight on his face. "These are wonderful." Gabrielle sat at the kitchen table, her legs elegantly crossed and her hands on her lap, watching the scene with an almost wistful look in her eyes. Harry looked handsome in form fitting jeans and a long sleeve V-neck shirt, showing off his broad collarbones and a hint of his chest, his silky black hair landing slightly below his shoulders. Her lips pursed, hating herself again. "Fleur wasn't kidding when she said that you were almost like a child, Albus. You show such wonderment at the world around you," William said, smiling widely as Albus approached, his hands still sticking out for unneeded balance. "I can't see how anyone can be bored with such a place," Albus laughed in agreement. "Indeed, I wasn't sure if we would ever get out of the outdoor market. Albus might have kept us there for days at the rate we were going," Fleur said, shaking her head fondly at the memory of Albus messing around with a new model of fishing pole. "We did manage to get just about the entire stock of flowers and stone, though. It was crowded for a Sunday. Must have been quite a sight for them to see Albus carrying two lugs of stone," She continued. "I trust I'll need more before tomorrow," Albus commented, now trying to move backwards. "Suppose you could drop by the store first thing before school, Harry?" "School?" Fleur asked, shocked. "'enri, you're attending school? Whatever for?" "We're not in the wilderness, darling. People would notice if a sixteenyear-old boy had just moved here and wasn't attending school. It's against the law," Harry explained. Fleur scoffed. William smiled affectionately at her. Harry suspected that he found Fleur's self-imposing nature very endearing. "I should like taking a trip into the town soon as well, if only so I can try out that car of yours, Henri," William said.

"Harry, please," Harry responded, sparing a look at Fleur when she sighed loudly. "'enri is a perfectly good name. I don't see why you butcher it." "I was entertaining a thought of a nickname for you, though, Fleur," Harry smiled sweetly. "Fifi, perhaps?" Fleur looked appalled while the rest of the room erupted into laughter. "Fifi!" William seemed delighted with Harry's suggestion. "Brilliant, Harry." The death glare Fleur gave him could have sent an army to their graves, but he only grinned cheekily back at her. Harry nodded in approval, only to bring the glare onto himself. "Now, children," Albus warned, rolling towards the grand staircase, "We've got work to do. Harry, my boy!" He called as he redirected himself and instead went sailing out of view into the dining room. "These brakes are hardly effective…" "Did you save the directions?" Harry called. He heard some falling furniture in the other room. "Al?" Another crash. "Confound it all…" Albus' tone was an odd mix of amusement and vague concern. "Did you have any particular fondness for that lamp in the corner, Harry?" Gabrielle giggled fondly, "How I miss this." Harry regarded her darkly. Edward sat at the grand piano, his long fingers floating gracefully over the keys in a melody that would make any regular human doubt only one pair of hands was playing. He played a light melody that gradually transitioned to low and mysterious, and then higher in urgency and settling again into a more languid tone. 'Much like Harry', Edward thought. Harry had a way of relaxing him, but Harry himself was mysterious as his life was in a constant fog around him. Yet Edward felt the seriousness of Harry's past, and in a way, the seriousness of what was to come. Any relationship with Harry, Edward felt, wouldn't be

easy with the ghosts that he left in his wake. Gabrielle, the Volturi, and countless other things that undoubtedly lay dormant. But Harry was worth it. Edward knew from the shocks that he felt whenever Harry was around. Gods, he was worth it. Esme looked up from her blueprints in the study, hearing the hauntingly lovely melody. She sighed happily, and flitted down the stairs to his side, not completely coming into his view, but he knew she was there. Rosalie entered the dining room where the piano was situated, watching Edward's fingers working over the keys. "Edward's composing again?" She asked in a patronizing tone. Edward ignored her, and Esme gave her a warning glance before turning back to her son. "It's beautiful, Edward. For Harry?" She asked, and Edward nodded, the ghost of a smile on his face. Rosalie crossed her arms, shaking her head. "Oddly soft for something that would resemble Harry, don't you think? If you ask me, there should be more glass breaking involved." "I'm sure Harry feels the same way about you," Edward countered smoothly. A laugh sounded from up the stairs as Jasper appeared on the balcony. Rosalie glared up hatefully at him, and he shrugged innocently. "You were asking for that one, Rose." "Harry hasn't said a sharp word to you in days, Rosalie. What is your aversion to him?" Esme asked. Rosalie scoffed. "Only that since he and the old man arrived, it's been nothing but bad luck. Edward coming across his first singer ever, that group of nobodys suddenly appearing to make our lives hell. He even had Edward save that Swan girl when he should have just let her get crushed!" "Harry didn't tell me to do anything, Rose," Edward hissed, and Jasper agreed. "Her blood would have spilled, Rosie, and Edward didn't have the time to get away. Get over it all ready. If she had bled, I don't think I could have controlled myself either," Jasper continued.

Rosalie waved them off. "Whatever the matter, it just seems like one thing after another. It's like a black cloud resides over both of them." "So somehow Bella moving to Forks and Gabrielle stalking them is Harry's fault?" Edward countered, looking at her as if she were loony. "All right, stop," Esme said firmly, effectively shutting everyone up. To be honest, she was fairly surprised that Jasper was almost defending Harry. He couldn't possibly have changed his mind so soon. Edward caught her thoughts, and looked up to Jasper in question. Jasper shrugged again. "What? It's awfully hard to be defensive when there's so much love in the room." He smiled pointedly. Esme's face lit up, and Rosalie rolled her eyes. "You would fall in love with the oldest person on the planet." There really was no need to add that Alice had gotten to Jasper, and though he still had some reservations, he had to admit that the pair was growing on him. Especially as the younger of the two had singlehandedly brought life to Edward in a way he had never seen before. Edward said nothing as a slow thoughtful smile spread across his face. Instead he turned back to the piano, picking up where he left off, and let the melody softly engulf the room. Esme stood still as the music washed over her, and Jasper leaned over the balcony to listen. Even Rosalie lost any inclination to interrupt again, and just folding her arms, leaning against the wall. Gabrielle watched fondly from the balcony as Harry, Albus and William flashed around the yard, emptying carton after carton of flowers and planting them in the freshly turned fertilizer. Fleur was facilitating from one of the wicker chairs on the tier. The clouds had provided a cover for them, ending the perfectly sunny day that graced them before, but slivers broke through every once in a while, and the three men were subject to their skin shining like diamonds when it happened upon them. Fleur had given Gabrielle a stern talking to during the night, and she hadn't been happy to see Harry flee with the Cullen boy into the woods as soon as he left them to their room. Fleur was afraid that Gabrielle's hasty declarations would scare Harry away, thinking that

she might be trying to renew her advances to him. Fleur wouldn't have it. While William had gone hunting later in the night, Fleur had sternly told Gabrielle that if anyone was to be confronting Harry about that particular incident, it would be Fleur. Gabrielle wasn't happy that she had almost been forbidden to even speak to Harry. Of course, it had been Fleur's idea to come. Gabrielle gazed at the top of Harry's head as he turned fertilizer, placed stones, planted flowers… Gabrielle had changed over a thousand years… but then so had Harry. Harry had been cynical and sarcastic when they met, but he had also been generally kind and wise. Gabrielle had become enamored with Harry's general knowledge about almost everything. His library at Les Hauteurs, as they had come to call the mansion in France, had been a testament to the millennia's of knowledge he had accumulated. She could have listened to that beautiful voice for hours. She doubted she would have been given the same treatment if she had met this Harry now. Not only was he cynical and sarcastic, but it also appeared that he was severely distrustful as well. She figured that she must have been the cause of it. She had betrayed Harry's trust in her as a friend, and she had felt the effects of it on all sides. Even Fleur, happy as she had been to find that her sister was alive, had been disgusted with her when she learned what had happened. They weren't sure what to expect when they finally found Harry and Albus, but it definitely wasn't this. Perhaps they would have stayed in the country, in an isolated area with a lavish house and plenty of room for Albus' frolicking and Harry's wandering. They wouldn't have guessed that the pair had made a life for themselves with other vampires in it. Fleur had been hurt to discover the Cullens with them. It was clear that they met by chance, but still, Fleur was thwarted by the companionship the two covens had developed. It was what Fleur had wished for when she was turned.

Gabrielle sighed. She wanted more than anything to make it right. A thousand years had taught her things, but it didn't seem like Harry was in a forgiving mood. She had proved him right. He couldn't even trust his friends. She frowned when she heard an odd sound coming from Harry. The boy pulled a small phone from his jeans pocket, flipping it open and speaking to someone on the other line. From a better distance, Gabrielle might have been able to hear the other speaker, but Harry's voice was clear enough… as was the content look that suddenly spread across his face as he answered. "I'm taking a walk with Albus later. He thinks I've been neglecting him," Harry's amused voice answered the speaker's unknown question. Gabrielle couldn't describe the smile on Harry's face as he spoke into the phone. She recalled a similar look when Harry had been under her charm. But that one had been dreamy and enamored. This one was more genuine. This one was just… happy. "Call again in a few hours, okay?" Harry asked, and waited for the answer on the other line. Gabrielle leaned closer, watching in dismay as Harry's soft smile brightened as he hung up the phone. Harry and Albus strode through the woods, the fresh fog laid so thick that they might have been walking on clouds. Harry's hands were encased in his jean pockets, but Albus' swung by his sides lazily with his strides, occasionally bringing them up as if to hold the haze in them. "Not as bad as we thought, is it?" Albus asked, looking up at the pine trees that seemed to disappear into the sky. "Not yet, anyway," Harry amended, feeling the moisture beginning to dampen his hair. "I can't trust Gabrielle, but Fleur and William seem relaxed enough," he continued. "I agree with you. William, though, is such a delightful young man. I wouldn't be sorry to know him better. Such a sense of adventure about him," Albus smiled.

"He seems delighted with you," Harry teased. "Why, I'm delighted to hear that!" Albus' smile turned very cheesy. "All right, this conversation has taken a very nonsensical turn," Harry laughed. "A very delightful turn." "Shut up." "I am… not delighted with that answer." Harry stopped, his lips purses tightly as if trying to restrain a laugh. He came in close to Albus' face and pulled his white hair aside to yell in his ear. "Hey! You with the beard! Stop… Talking!" He bellowed with a smile. Albus blinked, and rubbed at his ear. "But I like the sound of my own voice." "If this is how this is going to go, I'm better off trying to get information out of a squirrel!" "But squirrels only ever talk about themselves, anyway." Harry blinked, then smiled with a shake of his head. "Well, what's got you in such a good mood?" "I should ask you the same question. You haven't snapped at Gabrielle once today or yesterday," Albus waggled his white eyebrows, and Harry's lips pursed again, this time containing a smile. Albus knew he had been spending much time with Edward, and was only jibing him to embarrass him. Harry tilted his head, still smiling faintly. "I asked first." "Look at you. You've laughed more this weekend than you have in centuries!" Albus praised. "You spend a few days with Edward, and you come back glowing!" It was true. Since Friday evening, Harry had felt happier than he had in a long time. He was smiling more, instead of a smirk or scowl. Instead of getting impatient with Albus' antics, he found humor in them. It was just like… before.

Albus stepped toward him, placing his hands on either side of Harry's face and smiled joyously at him. "I'm happy because you are happy, Harry. I haven't seen such spark in your eyes in so long." He pushed Harry's hair away from his face, looking into his eyes. "I've been worried about your happiness for ages, but it seems as if one of my compulsions has finally done some good. You are my confidant and my dearest friend," he stressed meaningfully, "and a life without love is not worth living." Harry smiled, gripping Albus' hands at the wrists. "So I've been told." He regarded his friend thoughtfully. "Better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all?" He had asked this question many times before, and Albus always gave him the same answer. It helped to hear it though. It made it more believable. "Always," Albus smiled. His expression changed suddenly, stepping back, and Harry knew what was coming. "And don't think I didn't smell you when you came into the house yesterday. Frankly, I'm surprised Fleur didn't say anything." Harry half laughed, and half sighed. "That was Edward, and it was just a kiss." If Harry could blush, he would have been. "… And it was perfect…" he trailed off thoughtfully. Albus stared at him as if waiting for something, but it didn't come. "So…. You didn't…?" Harry shook his head, "My hair turned blue, though." "Voluntarily?" Albus asked with a confused look. Harry shook his head again, slightly embarrassed. A cheeky smile broke across Albus' face. "Oh, he's a keeper!" Harry laughed. Albus watched him with wonder in his eyes. He hadn't dared to hope that perhaps someone could possibly be good enough for Harry. For so long, Harry lived as though nothing lasted forever; as if any second he expected everything to be ripped out from beneath him. For Harry to laugh so… fearlessly… made Albus' heart swell. If Edward hurt Harry, Albus would wear his bullocks as a rather unattractive hat, but deep down, Albus knew he wouldn't have to

worry about that. Rather, he was more concerned that Harry might hurt Edward. He didn't doubt that Harry could fall in love, but Harry was fiercely protective. If a hint of trouble reared its ugly head, Harry wouldn't think twice about hurting Edward in order to save him. But then he reasoned with himself, they were both very stubborn. He didn't doubt that if Harry tried such a thing, Edward would follow him to the ends of the earth and beyond. Edward was exactly the type of person Harry needed. Edward didn't need to be protected, and neither did Harry. They just needed each other. They strolled leisurely back to the house, carrying on like a pair of teenagers. It might have looked odd to any onlookers that a tall yet slight old man and a sixteen-year-old boy could push, laugh, tackle the other to the ground, and hug like they didn't have a care in the world. Emerging onto the green and seeing the makings of the flower garden they had been working on lightened the already wonderful mood Harry was in. 'You Make Me So HOT, Makes Me Wanna Drop, You're So Ridiculous, I Can Barely Stop…' Harry gave a smug Albus an exasperated look as he pulled his phone out from his back pocket. "When did you manage to do that again!" "You underestimate me, my boy. Don't worry; it only plays whenever Edward is calling," Albus announced cheerfully. Harry shook his head as he flipped his phone open. 'Meet me in ten minutes?' "Where?" 'The road close to the meadow?' Harry thought that was odd but conceded anyway. "Right. Ten minutes." He hung up. "You have such eloquence on the phone, Har-bear," Albus chuckled. Harry looked at him, regarding the old man with such a fondness as Albus hadn't seen in forever. Harry's lips were parted as if he wanted

to say something. He didn't understand the sudden emotion that came over him for his friend. Then, without any premeditation, Harry flung himself at Albus, arms wrapping tightly around the man's neck. Albus returned his embrace instantly, one arm wrapping around Harry's waist, and the other holding the back of his head. Harry sighed raggedly, holding his best friend with all he had. It felt as if a large weight had been pulled off his shoulders; as if the dark cloud that had enveloped his mind had dissipated, and there was nothing but endless clear sky as far as he could see. Albus' jibes were hilarious again! He remembered when Albus could make him laugh for days, but he had been moody for so long… It was like waking up from a very long and hopeless dream. "What happened to me, Albus?" Harry whispered, Albus' long white hair tickling his nose. And Albus knew precisely what he was talking about. "You lost someone you love. You lost part of your family. We both did." Albus patted Harry's head soothingly. "It's hard to trust anyone when even your own family betrays you." Harry nodded. Didyme. And Gabrielle. "I miss this." "My squirrel talk?" Harry laughed, pulling back and grasping Albus' shoulders. "Yes! I miss your squirrel talk! I miss your knitting patterns! I miss your crazy concoctions that you make me test and make me feel physically ill! I miss you blubbering on about nonsense!" "I've been blubbering about nonsense the whole time, Harry. You just stopped paying attention," Albus stated knowingly. Harry looked pained for a second, grasping the truth in Albus' words. "Am I awful?" Albus shook his head firmly. "No. You're perfect. Your singing, however… that's awful." He reached to smooth Harry's wild hair somewhat. He searched the boy's eyes carefully before speaking. "Sometimes, when you can live forever, you forget what it is that

you're living for." Harry licked his lips, looking at the cloudy sky that swirled above his head, preparing for a storm. "I'm going to be late." "Well then, do go away, you've badgered me enough with your epiphanies." Albus shooed Harry off. "You mustn't keep Mr. Ed waiting." Harry rolled his eyes. "Edward." "A horse is a horse." Harry walked with Albus to the steps, preserving his time with his friend. It may have seemed foolish since he was sure he would see him in a matter of hours, but Harry wanted to. He felt like he owed Albus that much. Oh, how the tables had turned. "Don't forget to bathe before you come back." Harry snipped in Albus' direction as the old man disappeared into the house. He strode down the steps, preparing to run for it when a voice called him back. "Where do you go at night?" He turned around and saw Gabrielle staring down at him from the balcony. It was disturbing how Romeo and Juliet the whole scene must have looked. "Wherever I want," Harry answered, matter-of-factly. Gabrielle folded her arms on the banister, leaning forward and peering down at him, never into his eyes though. "We used to be such good friends," She said mournfully. "And now we're not. How quickly you forget," Harry said, but Gabrielle noted hopefully that the snap was gone from Harry's voice. His walk with Albus must have gone well. "Be careful, okay?" She asked. Harry narrowed his eyes in uncertainly, but inclined his head. "I

always am." And then he was gone. Gabrielle pursed her lips. He looked happier than he ever had when he was with her. The heavens broke loose as Harry tore through the forest, drenching his clothes and turning his black hair into a stringent mop atop his head. With every drop of rain, he felt another one of his barriers collapse. Edward waited where the road ended, water dripping from his bronze hair. His white T-shirt had become completely see-through and his jeans clung to his long legs. He listened intently around him for any sounds that would resemble Harry jetting through the brush. Then he heard it, and within seconds, Harry stood before him looking like a literal wet dream. Edward flashed to Alice's vision: of Harry pinned beneath him under the weeping sky as the lightening crashed through both of them. But there was something different about Harry. The way he was regarding him was… full of wonder. Edward felt it echoing around him. "You're late," Edward smiled, stepping closer. He stopped short when Harry held up a hand though. "Wait…" He said, staring at Edward as if he were the sun. Edward was quite taken aback by the change. 'I just want to see you.' Edward wasn't sure what to feel as Harry's eyes swept over his body and seemed find joy at every aspect of him. He felt very exposed… but something in Harry's demeanor kept him from worrying. Harry wanted to see him… he wanted to memorize him. Harry watched as though enchanted. He swept over the perfect red bow-shaped lips, following the raindrops down the long white neck that disappeared into the collar of his shirt. But it didn't stop there. The transparency of Edward's garb gave him a perfect view of the lightly muscled chest, the hardening nipples, and the washboard stomach. He even saw the trail of dark hair that disappeared beneath Edward's belt. Harry felt as though Edward towered over him as his eyes trailed down the expanse of Edward's jean-clad legs, fabric clinging to the muscles in his thighs.

His eyes snapped up to Edward's face, and the boy was watching him with a slight smile as he listened to his thoughts. Harry moved toward him in a slow sultry motion before deciding that was too slow. He all but jumped the gorgeous boy in front of him, wrapping his arms around Edward as he had around Albus. Edward had seen it coming, felt it in Harry's thoughts, and wrapped his arms around Harry's waist, pulling him up and grasping his thighs to wrap them around his own waist. And Harry kissed him. He kissed him with all the passion he had closed up within himself for centuries. Edward felt as though he had been wrapped into a hurricane of emotion: pain, depression, happiness, anger, elation, fear, relief, and bliss. He smiled in ecstasy as he gripped Harry's ribcage with one hand, and cupped the side of his face with the other. Harry opened his mouth, tasting the salt in the rain and the sweetness of Edward's breath. Edward's tongue touched his own, and was immediately swept up in an ancient dance, feeling the other, moving all about, eager to map out every part of each other. Edward's hand raised Harry's soaked shirt, fingers desperate for more skin. He brushed over the taut stomach, up to caress the hairless chest and groaned deep in his throat as his thumbs brushed over the pebbling nubs. Harry hummed into the kiss, his tongue delighting in the vibrations from Edward's mouth and the feel of his hands on his body as they slipped to his back and followed the curve of his spine to his hips and beyond. He pulled back for a second, wanting to see Edward's face. He felt his heart swell at the look of desperation and adoration on his face, and nothing other than genuine devotion in his eyes. "What was so important?" He asked slowly, his hands still buried in his Edward's hair. Edward blinked a few times, as if trying to come back to grips with reality. This was reality, he noted with satisfaction. This wasn't just one of Alice's subjective visions or his own feverish hopes. He shook his head. "Just you." And he encased Harry's lips with his

own again. The night was majestic. The clouds above the city had parted to reveal a festival of stars that lit up the sky, making the darkness less ominous than it seemed. Humans emerged from their houses to bask in the night, enjoying the breeze and the light show. They gathered on the green before the imposing castle-like fortress that rose above the rest of the city. Marcus stood at a large window overlooking Volterra, regarding the show with indifference. His long black hair hung straight down his back, blending into the high-collared black coat that brushed the pristine floors. He heard the screams coming from the foyer down the hall. Heidi* had brought another group of nobodys. The same routine everyday made Marcus' world fall further into despair, yet he couldn't say that he felt it. In truth, he felt nothing. He had once thought that being a vampire would be all he ever dreamed of. He wanted nothing more than what his maker had. Albus and Harry had waltzed into his life with all the grace and desirable power that anyone could imagine. Seeing potential and a will to live in Marcus, Albus changed him when he was on the brink of death from a mysterious disease that no one could cure. He remembered thinking Albus was an angel as he leant over him, biting into his neck before he fell almost immediately into blinding pain. When he woke, he was thrilled to discover not only a new world that teemed with life and possibilities, but also a family. He envied the connection that Albus and Harry shared, and was surprised to find that they accepted him. In human life, he had been strictly business; but Albus' obsession with the unknown and Harry's quick humor and love of knowledge sucked him in. A few decades later, Albus saved Aro shortly after Harry went rogue in Egypt, frustrated by singers and Albus' laws of power. Albus had gotten to Harry moments before he wasted Caius, and as a result, Albus changed him, saving him as well. Because of their fear and wonder at Harry who had all but massacred an entire city before they

were turned, Aro and Caius formed a very healthy admiration for him. As Marcus had known Harry before he deflected, he was more understanding of Harry's nature, and that it weighed heavy on Harry's conscience that he had lost himself. Harry, Marcus understood, was a rather temperamental human, and it translated when he was changed. It must have been hard to be human with a vampire as a guardian. Aro turned Didyme shortly afterwards, and life had seemed but a dream for centuries. Aro hung on Albus' every declaration, and Harry relentlessly teased Aro and Caius for their premature tirades and disagreements. And Marcus and Didyme fell deeper in love by the day. But most of all, they would talk and joke and wander, as if life were their playground. That was before Aro grew restless for power. Albus had agreed that the vampire world needed some kind of order to remain safe and unknown to humans. Aro took Albus' teachings of the 'Greater Good' to heart, using the ends to justify the means, overtaking the ruling Romanian coven to achieve the most powerful position soon to be known to every knowledgeable vampire in existence. He created the Volturi. Albus and Harry tolerated Aro's selfishness for as long as they could, but in the end it was decided, against Aro and Caius' wishes, that they would leave Volterra in favor of something lower profile. "There should indeed be someone charged with bringing peace and anonymity to the world of vampires, and it is not I," Albus had said. Aro was disappointed, but in the end, took the 'burden' upon himself. Soon, he was confidant that while Albus and Harry's presence was desirable, it was not needed. It was Marcus' belief that even if Albus returned someday to take the previously offered mantle, Aro would not give in easily. Marcus stayed because of Didyme, who still loved her brother too much to leave him. But it was not without a heavy heart that they watched Harry and Albus go, insisting that they visit as often as possible.

"You will write to me, Harry? I don't want one detail of your life to go amiss," Didyme insisted, and Harry promised her. True to their word, Albus and Harry visited as often as they could. Harry grew wary throughout the centuries as every time they returned, they found the Volturi family growing larger and larger with gifted individuals. Marcus' lips twitched in amusement as he remembered when Albus and Harry returned to find the twins, Jane and Alec, among the party. Aro changed them when they were really young, merely children, as their village had declared them witches and tried to kill them. Jane had a power that allowed her to make others feel torturous pain, and Alec could make them feel nothing, encasing them helplessly in their own body, void of motion or mental capacity. Jane was very selfabsorbed, but Alec was quieter about his inferred superiority. Jane's star-struck expression when she first saw Harry had amused Marcus and Albus immensely. Alec had been a bit more subdued, but in the end, he had fallen just as hard as Jane. Jane had been jealous of Harry's time with Didyme, but Marcus knew that their bond was that of a mother and son. Didyme had been furious when she saw Jane inflict her power on Harry in an effort to gain his attention. Immediately after she lifted her torture, Harry had struck back with harsher punishment, permanently scarring her. But neither Marcus nor Didyme were happy when it came time for Albus and Harry to leave, dreading another thirty years or so before the next visit. Didyme had followed Marcus, Albus, and Harry in their routine of hunting outside the city for animals, instead of participating in the slaughterhouse routine that the rest of the Volturi had fallen into. Frankly, it disgusted them. That was one disagreement she and her brother could never get over. Aro was surprised by their wish to leave with Albus and Harry the next they visited, but gave his blessing with abandon, wishing them all the happiness in the world. All the happiness in the world had been what they expected… …until Didyme was murdered. Marcus' teeth clenched when he thought about that night.

'The castle was in uproar. Smoke flooded the halls, and the scent of burning flesh sent the resident vampires and humans into a frenzy. Someone was dead. Marcus watched as Harry sprinted down the hallway toward the flame-infested room, his eyes wild with fury and dread. As the fire spread, Marcus felt a strange emptiness engulf his senses, a numbness that spread faster than the fire. Aro and Caius followed swiftly after. Marcus looked numbly around the foyer for Didyme, but somehow knowing in his dead heart that he wouldn't see her. He didn't know why… where was she? And suddenly, an earth-shattering scream echoed from the inferno, and Marcus' heart shattered as he recognized Harry's agonized and strangled voice. "NOOOOOOOOOO!" And then Albus was walking slowly down the hall, as if the world bore down on his shoulders, looking older than Marcus had ever seen him. Albus stopped in front of Marcus. Marcus briefly asked himself why he was still standing shock-still as the rest of the world seemed to erupt around him. One look in Albus' eyes told him; the clear blue eyes were filled with remorse, pain, anger… and sympathy. He had felt it, and Marcus had as well. Didyme was gone. Albus continued on his way down the hall, disappearing into the smoke, Marcus marching resolutely behind him. Amidst the flames and the rest of the Volturi that stood against the wall watching the scene anxiously, there stood Harry. He held two unknown vampires by their necks as they clawed at his hands, but Harry didn't let up, his eyes black. He looked about as numb as Marcus felt. He didn't even seem to register the hissing of the vampires and the scratches that their nails left on his arms. He was starring blankly into the fire. Where Didyme burned. Marcus knew Harry was waiting for him.

Marcus killed them; dismembered them, limb for limb in most torturous way possible. Their screams echoed through his head, and he allowed a brief moment to thank whatever God there was that he hadn't heard Didyme's screams as they tore her apart. When he had finished, and the numbness overtook him once again, he saw Albus and Harry standing off to the side, their eyes closed and hands clasped in front of them. Their eyes seemed to have sunken deeper into their sockets, creating almost black circles around them. The castle spent a week in silence.' Marcus stayed with the Volturi. He was surprised at how quickly his will to leave with Albus and Harry had diminished after Didyme died, but he figured that all the things he had wanted before were then meaningless. He didn't want adventure, travel, and laughter anymore… What did it mean without Didyme? Over half a millennia later, Marcus was still in the same place as he had been that night. Cold and indifferent to the world around him. And what was worse: His so-called brothers didn't seem to care. Aro and Caius and the rest of the Volturi had gone about their business, not at all bothered by the destitute Marcus. Harry and Albus didn't return, and they didn't contact them. They had disappeared into the world without a trace. Marcus suspected that Harry had been angry at him for choosing against joining them, but he had to understand. He recalled Harry's pursed lips and black eyes as they left for the last time. Oddly enough, Marcus felt most of Harry's anger directed at Aro. Though it confused him, Marcus couldn't find it in his heart to care at the time. He wondered about his dear friends, almost bitter at them for abandoning him. Perhaps they were bitter at him as well, but they would never say anything. Not to Marcus. Every once in a while, Marcus would remember something about them. Harry sporting a cat ears around for a month after losing a bet with Albus, and then when Albus gave himself cat ears to lessen Harry's embarrassment. Short and lithe Harry taking on the giant Felix, one of Aro's self-important bodyguards, and winning within

seconds. Albus and his mysterious concoctions that brought fear to the entire castle. The nonsensical bickering that the pair engaged in almost religiously. Marcus thought of them often. It floored the Volturi guards when they caught a ghost of a smile on Marcus' face, rare as it was, and they always knew what he was thinking about. While Marcus felt empty and desolate without his love, his everything, for the first time since he lost her, he was beginning to feel. And he missed Albus and Harry. If anyone could bring him back to life, they could. He sighed brokenly at the stars that mocked him with their happiness. He would find them. He needed their comfort again.

Twelve: Can You Turn My Black Roses Red? Bella wrung her hands nervously in her truck first thing Monday morning. She had arrived a bit early in hopes of getting Harry alone. She wasn't exactly sure what she would say to him, but she felt very confident that he wouldn't hurt her. After all, he had tried to protect her by telling her to stay away, or at least, that was what she had interpreted his warning as. Her heart rate took off as she saw the familiar silver Bugatti pull into the parking lot, but was surprised when she saw not Harry emerge from the driver's seat, but Edward. Edward was driving Harry's car. She saw the other boy appear out of the passenger side door, messenger back bouncing gracefully against his shoulder as he strode to the sidewalk, Edward moving to take his hand. Harry didn't spare her a look. She didn't know if he hadn't seen her or if he was ignoring her after the incident at the hospital. But her blood froze as Edward looked up. His dark icy glaze penetrated deep into her heart. He narrowed his eyes briefly before looking away, his back stiffer than before. His siblings followed behind him in pairs. Bella sighed. It looked like she would have to wait for gym if she was going to talk to Harry… if she could gather up the courage until then.

Edward gritted his teeth when he caught Bella Swan's eyes. She had a curious… yet enlightened look in her eyes. He didn't like it. He clenched Harry's hand in his own. The shorter boy looked up at him in question. Edward just shook his head and continued on, rubbing the boy's hand in his own. "Your bestie is looking at you, Harry," Alice giggled. Harry smirked, shaking his head. "Someone took the lesson of perseverance a little too literally in kindergarten." It would be a week before Bella could even see Harry when one of the Cullens wasn't around him. He seemed to have a renewed source of energy. The only time when she would have had a chance to talk to him was in gym class, but instead of standing off the side like he normally did, Harry found his way into the game. He excelled at every single sport, and Bella watched from the sidelines, disappointed that another day went by that she hadn't been able to speak with him. There were plenty of rumors around the school about Harry and Edward. Some were good, but most were bad. "It's practically incestuous what they're doing. Aren't they related? I bet they're cousins. It's obvious…" Jessica prattled off at lunch one day, much to Bella's annoyance. Mike and the other boys didn't seem to take it so seriously. If Harry and Edward were together, then that meant that Harry wasn't after Bella. If anything, Harry's apparent sexual orientation made them like him more. "You know what they say about narcissists…" Lauren muttered hatefully. Bella looked at the Cullens from the corner of her eye. Somehow, she knew they knew she was looking at them. Edward's hand would lay over Harry's on the table, playing idly with his fingers. Bella almost swooned. "I think they make a very attractive couple. It's obvious that they love each other…" The quiet Angela spoke up, blushing slightly. "Honestly, Angela. It's disgusting."

Bella had to wonder if Jessica was really disgusted by them, or if she was just jealous that the two most gorgeous boys in school had gotten together. It was a no win situation for the girls. Bella turned away from the pair. For some reason, she always felt she was invading in a very intimate moment. They hardly ever spoke, but Edward would make certain gestures or well-placed smiles that would make her think that they were communicating just the same. Perhaps there weren't words. Bella turned back to her food, hoping she would make it through Biology without getting eaten by Edward. It had become a routine that the Cullens would go to Harry and Albus' house after school everyday instead of their own. It had started with Edward asking Alice to go so he would have an excuse to hang around Harry without Gabrielle getting suspicious. It didn't take much, as Alice had a growing fondness for Harry since his attitude shift. Albus and Harry's back-and-forth provided enough entertainment to last the entire day. Jasper followed Alice, naturally, and Emmett followed Jasper and Edward. Soon enough, Rosalie grudgingly accompanied them as well. Edward didn't care for hanging around Gabrielle, but he understood that Harry wanted to be with Albus as well. Harry felt bad that he had been dismissive and sulky with his friend for so long, and felt the need to make up on lost time. Albus assured him that he needn't feel bad, but Harry was nothing if not thorough when it came to making things up to his friends. He enjoyed Harry and Albus' bantering and joking, but he didn't like that he had to sit far away from the boy whenever the Delacours were around. When they would sit and talk, they sat on opposite couches, and he had to endure his siblings, Albus, Fleur or William sitting where he knew he should be: next to Harry. He didn't like that he couldn't touch him when he wanted to, couldn't hold his hand, or wrap his arms around him, or kiss him… or throw him up against a wall and ravish him when he made a particularly suggestive remark in his thoughts. And Harry did that a lot. Most of the time, Albus would catch it as well, and would thump Harry on the head for teasing Edward in such a way. Edward would smirk,

and the rest of the group would look at them confusedly before continuing on with whatever they had been doing before. Jasper and William got along famously, having both witnessed wars when they were human. Gabrielle had made a few attempts to engage Rosalie in conversation, but soon found her to be gaudy and self-righteous and ignored her. Harry snorted when she made such an observation out loud when they left one evening. "You can't tell me that you think otherwise, 'arry," Gabrielle had countered his amused laughs. A part of her was happy that he had lightened up over the course of the week, but the other was still very protective of her dignity. "You see how she stalks about the house like she owns it. It's a wonder you allow such things." "You stalk, Gabrielle," Harry answered, smirking at her. "I recall you doing a lot of stalking around Les Hauteurs, acting like you owned it. I know. I used to clap to the clicks of your hells whenever I heard you coming." "We both did," Albus had cut in. "It was rather amusing. Some of your steps were out of pace, at times though…" He trailed off. Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "It was my house. It was our house. I could have stalked if I wanted to. That girl glares at us like we're imposing on her. She's positively pubescent." "I wouldn't be quick to judge, Gabrielle," William cut in. "You know hardly anything about her to be making assumptions." "Indeed. Rosalie might have encountered a tragedy that causes her to act this way," Albus reasoned. Gabrielle fell silent, thinking with her eyes on Harry. Fleur had been silent the entire time. She made no mistake about her dislike of Rosalie. She found her impertinent and yes, pubescent. "It is an awfully good thing that the rest of her family is so wellmannered, or I would be tempted to lay the blame on Carlisle and Esme. That would be a shame. I am very pleased with Esme," Fleur had said. She and Esme had bonded over interior decoration and gardening. Overall, the two families seemed to have come together very nicely,

though Harry hardly considered the Delacours and himself family. Albus may have, but to Harry, family suggested a certain amount of trust, and while he trusted Fleur and William well enough and was beginning to find Gabrielle tolerable again, he wouldn't trust her with a book he didn't like. Albus enjoyed the togetherness of the group, and said so to Harry many times. "How I should look forward to traveling together if I wasn't so worried that Gabrielle would rape you when I wasn't looking." Harry reaffirmed his statement that Gabrielle would be gone in two weeks, despite how much he enjoyed learning more about William and spending time with Fleur. Their time together didn't change anything. And they only had four more days to go. "Bella!" Bella groaned when she heard Jessica squeal behind her. She had a good idea of what it was about. She had turned down Mike Newton's offer to go to the dance in the hopes that he would ask Jessica instead. From the delight in the girl's voice, it sounded like he had. "You're never going to guess what happened!" Jessica shrieked when Bella turned to greet her. Bella plastered a smile on her face and pretended to guess. "Mike Newton asked me to the dance!" She cried, cutting Bella off. Suddenly her face sobered into fake concern. Bella could spot a fake emotion from Jessica. "Oh… is that okay? You weren't going to ask him, were you?" Bella shook her head. "No! No… I'm happy for you." She said, putting her books in her bag and closing her locker. "Good! Good… I was wondering. Angela and I are going dress shopping in town after school. Do you want to go? We could get something to eat afterwards?" She wanted the new girl's advice, as Bella had captured the entire male population's attention without trying. It would be worth Jessica's while to take some pointers from her, or so she thought.

Bella didn't really want to, but she didn't really have anything to do, and she needed to take her mind off the fact that neither the Cullens nor Harry were in school that day. It was sunny out… She agreed, and made a call to her father telling him she would be late that night. Dress shopping. She almost groaned when she thought of how desperate she was to agree to such a thing. "Harry, would you mind?" "Yes, I would." "But seriously." "I am serious." "Well you do bear a striking resemblance, but other than that…" "Have Fleur do it." "She and William went to the movies this evening." Harry raised a brow as he shuffled around the garage. "Fleur went to a movie? Which one?" "I believe William was particularly keen on "Watchmen', but Fleur might have convinced him on something more… how do you say… chick-flick-ish…" Albus seemed unsure of his own word choice. Harry sighed. "What do you need?" "Six cartons of lilium tigrinum, as many packets of imperta seeds as you can find, see if they have any vincas…" Albus sprouted off the latin names of tiger lilies, Japanese blood grass and myrtle among other things. Harry smiled at Albus' fondness for lilies. They were all over the garden at present, but Albus couldn't get enough. They reminded him of Harry when he was a baby, apparently. "Fine, but you're cleaning my trunk," Harry declared as Albus tossed him his keys. "Could you pick up a vacuum cleaner as well, then?" Harry laughed as he started the car, screeching out of the driveway, and watching Albus disappear from the rearview mirror.

It took him under an hour to get to Port Angeles and raid the plant nursery. He reasoned that Washington wasn't exactly the right climate for the Japanese blood grass, but then again, they did have Fleur there to influence the weather to their tastes. He sighed as he caught himself thinking of a prolonged stay for the Delacours…or at least Fleur. Gabrielle hadn't been making him particularly mad over the last week, and Fleur and William were very good company. Harry liked William as good as a brother, really. They spent a good amount of time together in Harry's library, and William had confessed that the library at Les Hauteurs was his favorite place in the whole house. He wasn't ready to make such a decision, and he had at least another four days to think on it. Albus had kept his word and hinted to Fleur that their stay shouldn't be very long with respect to Harry, and Fleur had agreed readily. It seemed that she, at least, had no ulterior motives than just a want to see them again. Harry's trunk looked like it had become a garden in itself as cartons were pushed against cartons and bags of fertilizer built up at the rear. The nursery owner eyed Harry's black Visa with wide eyes as Harry swiped it through and said he didn't need a receipt. The man and his wife watched in awe as Harry drove off with a big chunk of merchandise. It was darker then, and the sky faded to twilight. It was Harry's favorite time of day. He rolled the windows down as well as the skylight and let the wind run through his hair as he hit the main road. He was driving past the shopping mall when he saw something peculiar. He stopped the car at a deserted corner, his vision zeroing in on a group of people on the sidewalk. Blast. It was Bella Swan. She was standing in a small alcove with a group of other guys, backing away slowly. Harry narrowed his eyes as the men came closer to her, circling her like she was prey. He could smell her blood pumping faster by the second, but none of her fear was portrayed on her face. He deduced that the men weren't people she knew, and definitely

weren't lost and asking for directions. He briefly thought about how useful Edward's talent would have been at a time like this, but then pushed it away. Bella's mind was a fortress, impregnable even for Edward. Bella Swan's number seemed to up in Forks, Harry thought, as he saw a man reach for Bella, catching a few strands of her hair and she backed up quickly to get away from him. "Run, you stupid girl," Harry whispered, still watching and waiting for Bella to make a run for it. The girl wasn't moving, and Harry could practically smell the excitement and lust falling off the men as they honed in on her. His nose wrinkled in disgust. Bella had found herself in another bad situation. Harry waited long enough for Bella to get close to the asphalt to push the pedal into the floor and the car took off, heading straight for the party that had flooded into the street after Bella. The men heard the screeching and looking in horror as the Bugatti flashed through the streetlights, coming at them so fast that they were sure it couldn't stop in time to miss them. They hurled themselves out of the way while Bella looked on like a deer in headlights. The car fishtailed gracefully around so that the passenger side of the car was right next to the girl. "Get in," Harry's voice was dark and dangerous and the window rolled down. Bella didn't give it a second thought as she got in the car. She recognized the Bugatti right away and relief flooded her system when she saw Harry in the driver's seat, his hair tufted and looking like black flames atop his head. She couldn't help but admire it before Harry stepped on the pedal again and they were off. They hit a back road and were pushing 120 mph when Bella's nervous voice broke the silence. "Fancy seeing you here," she joked, but clamped her mouth shut when Harry's dark eyes met hers in agitation. Harry shook his head slowly, as if trying to understand something. Bella regarded him out of the corner of her eye. She watched as the trees flew by like sprinters, and the wind whipped through her hair. She glanced at Harry again, and smiled fondly as the wind seemed to

twirl his hair like a torando. She giggled. Harry turned to her suddenly, and she yelped in surprise as how quick he moved. She sighed as he turned away again, glaring through the windshield. "You know, if you regretted Edward saving me the first time, then why did you bother this time?" Bella asked, crossing her arms and huffing out the window. She heard Harry's hands tighten on the leather of the steering wheel. "You're an idiot," the smooth tenor answered. "Oh, that's inspiring," Bella mumbled. Harry turned to her, his eyes boring deep into her as if trying to burn her alive. "I don't think I'm making myself clear. You. Are. An. Idiot." "So you should have let me die," Bella said, shaking her head. "Do you want to die? Is that your problem?" Harry asked, and the engine roared louder as he sped up down the dark road. "Is that why you put yourself in these situations, because you're so eager to off yourself?" "No! God no!" Bella rebuffed. "Why would you say that?" "Because you looked perfectly ready to meet your maker just a second ago. Those men could have offed you after using you and you still didn't run. Tell me, what were you thinking?" Harry didn't know if Bella got off on the damsel in distress act, but his previous high opinion of her intelligence was making him feel rather foolish at present. Bella mumbled, but Harry heard anyway. "I was trying to think of some defensive maneuvers I'd seen in the movies…" A dark blush overtook her cheeks. Harry blinked, and turned to look at the road again. 'Defensive maneuvers…' he mouthed to himself. It only took a second for the hilarity of that answer to hit him and he burst into laughter. "Are. You. Kidding Me!" Bella looked very affronted and blushed even harder when she

realized he was making fun of her. "If I had run, they would have chased me, and I tend to fall when I run, so…" her explanation faded as Harry roared even louder with uncontrollable guffaws. Bella decided that he was much to preoccupied to listen to her anyway, so she just folded her arms and grudgingly let him laugh out his amusement. After a second, he calmed down, and the car slowed as he did. "Dear Merlin, girl. You could find trouble in a padded room at a mental institution. Which, by the way, is where you belong. Defensive maneuvers…" Harry shook his head, as if the mere thought was completely ridiculous. To be honest, Bella was beginning to feel stupid as well. "My friends are still at the shopping mall," She said. "Ah yes. The fan club." Bella grabbed her seat as Harry suddenly swerved the car around on the deserted backstreet and in a second they were heading back to the outlet mall at full speed. "Let me be the voice of reason, since your father has obviously been remiss in this part of your education. When a group of men you don't know suddenly surround you, you scream at the top of your lungs, and you run. If you don't know what kind of scream I mean, then I suggest you consult your friend Jessica. She's rather good at them," Harry continued sarcastically, making Bella slump lower and lower into her seat. "If you think I'm such a burden, then why did you help me?" She asked in a small voice. "Merlin," Harry chuckled in disbelief, "you must think I'm a cruel and heartless bastard." Bella pursed her lips. "I don't… it seems weird that you would go through so much trouble for a human." "A human? Do you always refer to yourself so generically?" Harry scoffed. "Myself?" Bella had been trying to be subtle, but Harry hadn't gotten

her first hint. He was either very good at acting or he didn't think she was being serious. Perhaps she hadn't made herself clear. "So you admit that you aren't?" "Aren't what?" "Human." "Excuse me?" The weird way Harry was looking at her almost convinced her that her previous theory was completely off base. Now that she was about to expose her theory, it really did seem outlandish, but she was certain that even if she was wrong about Harry, she was at least right about the Cullens. Jacob had mentioned them specifically. Bella bit her lip uncertainly. "Beautiful, cold-skinned, no appetite, fast…" "Yes?" Harry asked quietly, staring at the road from beneath the long black longs that hung in his face. She gulped. "You are, aren't you?" "Are what?" Harry asked again. His hair had shielded his face from Bella, but she felt certain that his expression far from coincided with his sarcastic voice. "A… I…" Bella was suddenly tongue tied, and Harry sighed. "Are you sure you want to continue this vague line of questioning? Because if you proceed like this, instead of getting answers, you're likely to just confuse me further." Harry wasn't confused. Far from it, in fact. His opinion of Bella's intelligence was currently on a roller coaster. One minute he was sure she was completely idiotic, and the next he was thinking that perhaps her powers of deduction ran perpendicular to her common sense. How utterly annoying… Bella stumbled over her words, unable to form them as the terror of the situation enveloped her. Alone… in a car… on an obscure back road outside Port Angeles… with a vampire. "Vampire…" She whispered before she could stop herself, and then

hoped against hope that he hadn't heard her. She spared a look over her shoulder at the boy in the driver's seat. He seemed to have frozen in time with the rest of the world flashing by him outside the window of the car. Bella gulped. He had heard her, and at the same second, she was sure that even if he wasn't a vampire… he certainly wasn't human. The white arm held the wheel like steel, and his black hair coated his white neck in silk. The rest of him seemed to disappear into the darkness of the inside of the car. He was like a dark angel, with his timeless eyes staring not into the road, but into the future… into the past... Bella had lost herself, because in what seemed like seconds, Harry had pulled up to the curb of the outlet mall. But she didn't want to get out. Not yet. She wasn't done yet. "I promise I won't tell anyone… I just… you've got to give me some answers…" "So you're under the opinion that I owe you something?" Harry asked, and his voice seemed to echo in the deep blue night. His wild hair was frosted with the light from the stars that shown through the sunroof above their heads. Bella breathed, gaining what little courage she could. "Well, I don't see you denying it…" "Would denying it make you think otherwise?" Harry asked, knowingly. "No…." "That's why I'm not denying it. I know conviction when I see it," Harry smiled, and Bella caught a flash of his white teeth. She shivered. "Will you tell me?" She asked. "How did you form this theory of yours?" Harry asked, curiously, as if discussing the weather. She hesitated. She certainly didn't want to expose Jacob to criticism, especially since he had all but torn the alleged agreement between

Ephraim Black and Carlisle Cullen to shreds. She was formulating a lie when Harry threw the car into park, and exited. Before Bella could look around, Harry had her door open. She got out uncertainly and watched as Harry shut the door and handed the keys to the valet that stood close by. "What are you doing?" She asked as Harry mounted the curb and started towards the restaurant that was situated at the corner. "You're shaking. You need to eat." "Bella?" She heard a small voice call over her shoulder. "Your friends are coming," Harry said, as he turned and was looking beyond Bella to the pair of girls behind her. Jessica and Angela were walking their way. Harry's car had drawn some attention and Bella saw the worried looks on her friends' faces. She hoped they hadn't been looking for her long. She smiled quickly and waved them over. Jessica seemed very happy to be the center of the attention as everyone began whispering about them and how they knew the owner of the Bugatti. "We were looking everywhere for you, Bella!" She gushed. She cleared her throat when she saw Harry standing slightly apart from Bella looking like a phantom in black. "Hello, Harry," she said timidly, and Harry nodded at her. "How are you this evening, Jessica?" He asked sensuously. She giggled, and Bella watched in disgust as Jessica flirted with the boy she had been criticizing non-stop since he showed up to school last week hand-in-hand with Edward Cullen. "Um… Harry said he would take me home, okay guys? I'll see you tomorrow at school?" Bella said, and Jessica nodded eagerly and Angela smiled. "I'm glad you're okay, Bella," Angela said timidly. Bella smiled affectionately at her. Angela was one of her better friends. One that didn't like her just because she was popular and didn't make ignorant

comments about Harry or the Cullens behind their backs. "See you at school… Bye Harry!" Jessica waved. Harry smiled amusedly as turned to walk into the restaurant doors. Bella waved to her friends and followed him quickly. The black-attired hostess' eyes widened as she caught sight of Harry. Harry didn't seen to notice as he told her that he needed a table for two, preferably out of the way. His voice was like velvet and Bella witnessed with sympathy that the hostess swooned, completely dazzled by him as so many had been before. The girl must have thought they were on a date, and she cast a dark look at Bella who stood foolishly off to the side. She seemed satisfied with how ordinary Bella looked and at the space that separated Harry from her. Though short, Harry was still about to command a presence about him. Bella felt small as she followed Harry and the hostess through the nice restaurant, feeling under-dressed. Everyone they passed did a double take on Harry and then seemed to be disappointed at his company. She knew what they were thinking. 'What is a girl like that doing with a guy like that?' The hostess put them at a table in the middle of the restaurant, presumably because she didn't want them to have any privacy at all, and the booth was decidedly unromantic. Bella almost sat, but Harry shook his head and repeated the fact that he wanted something private to the hostess. The girl looked put out, but guided them to a booth in the corner. Harry took his seat facing the door and Bella took the other one. "Thank you," Harry said, flashing a heart-breaking smile. The hostess' eyes glazed for a second before shaking herself. "I uh… the waitress will be right out," the poor hostess announced, and… curtsied… before walking away. Bella almost laughed as she saw the girl's face skew like she couldn't believe she had just curtsied to Harry. "You really shouldn't do that to people," Bella said, almost chiding him. "It's hardly fair." "What do you mean?" He asked as he leaned back. The glow of the

candles lit up his face and Bella was dazzled for a second as well. "Dazzle people…" She slurred but was promptly shaken out of it as Harry snapped his fingers close to her face. "Sorry." He shrugged. "Would you feel better if I walked around with a paper bag over my head? Bella shook her head frantically. What a waste would that be? The server showed up, her face expectant. The hostess had apparently let everyone in the back know as the rest of the female servers seemed to have formed a line to walk past them as slow as possible. Once again, Harry took no notice. "My name's Amber, and I'll be your server tonight," the waitress greeted. Her face showed that she was not disappointed in the least by Harry's appearance. In fact, the hostess' description had not done him justice at all. She flipped a strand of hair over her shoulder and smiled prettily at him, totally disregarding Bella. "What can I get you to drink?" Harry tilted his head at Bella. She smiled hesitantly at the waitress. "Coke, please." "Two Cokes," Harry said, having not looked at the waitress since she showed up. The waitress left, assuring Harry… and only Harry… that she would be back in a moment. Bella watched in disgust as the girl swung her hips exaggeratedly as she left. She sighed, looking around. They had the attention of the entire restaurant on their little dark corner. "Soo… you're gay?" That should break the ice, she thought. Harry looked at her confusedly. "I was pretty gay until you ruined it by forcing me to save your life not an hour ago…" Honestly, Harry thought. Bella laughed and shook her head. "No! Not… happy gay… Are you… homosexual?" Harry blinked. "They call homosexuals gay? That doesn't seem…

relevant…" At Bella's expectant stare, he smiled infuriatingly. "No. I'm not homosexual." Now it was Bella's turn to blink. She narrowed her eyes at him, but his smile was still in place. "But… you're dating Edward… right?" She would have to wait for her answer, because the waitress was back again. She set down the two drinks in front of them along with a basket of fresh garlic bread sticks. When Bella realized the smell of garlic, she eyed Harry closely. No reaction. "Are you ready to order?" The girl asked. Harry nodded to Bella. Put on the spot, once again, Bella picked the first thing she saw on the menu. "Mushroom ravioli, please." The waitress turned back to Harry with a flirtatious tilt of her head. "Nothing for me," he said. Of course not, Bella sighed. The waitress seemed to wait for him to look up, but Harry didn't oblige her. She left a second time without so much as a glance. Bella eyed him, waiting for his response. "Yes. I'm dating Edward," he said, stirring his drink with the straw. "But you just said…" Was Harry screwing with Edward? Bella frowned. They had seemed so in love when they held hands at school and spoke to each other at lunch. She knew at least Edward cared deeply for Harry from the concentrated look that he would give Harry in Biology class, and Harry would turn and smile indulgently at him, as if they were talking but still not speaking… or even looking at each other for that matter. "I'm not homosexual, and I'm not heterosexual," Harry explained. He looked completely serious as he spoke. "I guess I'm just sexual." Bella almost choked on her Coke, and a passing waitress came to an abrupt halt as the word 'sexual' left Harry's perfect red lips. She turned crimson, stared at him for a moment, and then scurried off to tell her findings to the nearest person she knew.

Bella sighed as Harry raised a brow at her. "Then… do you love Edward?" Harry tilted his head. "Is it really any of your business?" Bella frowned, disappointed. "No. I guess not." "Yes." Bella looked up into Harry's white glowing face. His green eyes sparkled mysteriously and with barely concealed happiness. It wasn't at her that he directed the gaze at though. He was staring into the space beside her. Bella swallowed. The small smile tugging at his lips was proof enough that the only person he could be thinking about was Edward. He only smiled like that when he was with the other beautiful man. "I do love him." He continued thoughtfully… He snapped out of it and pushed the breadbasket to her. "You're still shaking. Where's your coat?" Bella looked around for a second before remembering she left it in Jessica's car. She blushed as she told Harry so, and watched as Harry slipped out of his own coat and handed it to her. It was a nice black fleece which was cold having laid on his skin, but she warmed up quickly anyway. Harry sighed. "You don't even look shaken. You were seconds from death, but the only thing you can think about is whether or not I'm supernatural." "You can trust me, you know," Bella murmured. "I'm just curious. I'm not… threatening you." "What do you have to threaten me with, Miss Swan?" Harry asked darkly. Bella nodded. Nothing really. If she told anyone that Harry was a vampire, everyone would look at her like she was crazy… or crazier… "You've saved my life twice. Why? If you're really a … vampire," she said lowly, causing Harry to roll his eyes, "then why bother? You kill us by the masses every time you get hungry anyway…"

Harry only stared at her. She shook her head in frustration. "You can't convince me otherwise! You already said you wouldn't. Edward flew across a parking lot to push a van off me. You don't eat at lunch… you don't eat ever!" She stopped as the waitress placed the mushroom ravioli in front of her before leaving, leering at Harry again. "The Cullens don't come to school when it's sunny. Your skin is… so pale! If you're not vampires, then what are you?" Harry licked his lips, before pointing at her food. "Eat." Bella munched on her ravioli in disapproval. She swallowed and observed her fork for a second. She watched Harry watching her as she stuck the fork into the ravioli and pulled it in front of her face. "What happens if you eat real food?" Harry's lips quirked. He reached for her fork and brought the ravioli to his mouth. He used his teeth to delicately scrape the food off the fork and chewed once before swallowing. Harry almost squirmed at the feel of real food working its way down his throat. He set her fork down and smirked. "Absolutely nothing." "What were you doing in Port Angeles today?" "Buying flowers." Bella raised a brow at him. "For Edward?" Harry almost laughed as he imagined the look on Edward's face if he ever chose to present the taller boy with flowers. The incredulous and doubtful look that he imagined made him snort. "My grandfather is planting a garden," Harry mumbled. He pulled out his phone. "Is he really your grandfather?" "I'm not equipped to handle annoying little girls like you." Harry said as he pressed a number and held it to his ear. He immediately began

conversing in a hushed whisper to someone on the other line. Bella strained to hear without trying to appear like it, but try as she might, she couldn't make out a word. Harry had called Albus, speaking in a low voice that no human would possibly be able to hear. "Another interesting development? I love this town!" Albus cried from the other line, and Harry shook his head in amused exasperation. "Albus, Bella Swan thinks I'm a vampire." "Now why would she think a preposterous thing like that?" Albus teased. "I don't know where she got the idea, but she's very adamant about it. She's seen Edward jet across the school parking lot to save her. She may have seen him push the van off of her, but other than that, she's brought up the cold skin and not eating." "Can you convince her otherwise?" "Judging by the episode at the hospital, I think not." "Well, I suppose we'll have to kill her then. She had a good run, though. I don't suppose she's tried to blackmail you?" "She says she won't tell anyone." "… she can block your powers, can't she?" "Yes." "Is she scared at all?" Harry looked at Bella who was eyeing him with curiosity, perhaps warily, but he didn't seen any distinct signs of fear. She was almost finished with her dinner. "No." "Curious…." Albus was silent on the other line. He was thinking. Bella watched as Harry spoke a little longer and then hung up the phone. The whole thing looked very suspicious, but Harry pocketed his phone and turned to her. "Are you finished?" Bella looked down at the almost empty plate. She

hadn't been hungry to begin with, but since Harry had been adamant, and she figured he would give her more information if she cooperated, she ate. She nodded, and Harry called the waitress back for the tab. He had a bill ready when she laid the folder down and told her to keep the change. Bella zipped up Harry's jacket around her as they started out, and Harry's phone rang again. She could have guessed who it was as a smile lit up Harry's face despite his annoyance at her. It had to be Edward. Harry gave the ticket to the valet and waited on the curb with Bella. Edward was asking Harry if he was home or not. "Something's come up," Harry said quietly, once again assuring that Bella couldn't hear him. She gave him an annoyed look that told him she didn't appreciate all the sneakiness. "Bella Swan?" Edward didn't seem happy at Harry's answer to his question of whether or not it was serious. "Why are you with her?" "Fresh out of hell's mouth, once again," Harry said. "I was getting Albus' flowers and she was about to get gang raped outside the outlet mall in Port Angeles." "Should have guessed," Edward said. "Are you coming over later?" Harry asked. "Of course." Edward whispered to him, and Harry's smile widened. "How long do you expect this to last?" "Albus isn't planning on killing her." "Do you need me?" Harry smirked to himself. "Of course." "Then I'll be there." "Give Albus enough time to scare her before you get there. Maybe multiple blows will deter her conviction a bit."

"Done." Harry hung up the phone as the valet drove the car up to the curb. He opened the door for Bella before climbing into the driver's seat. For just having admitted to Harry that she knew… or thought… he was a vampire, Bella thought that he was taking it rather well. He hadn't killed her, he hadn't bitten her, and he hadn't tossed her over a cliff or left her stranded in the middle of the road with no phone and no idea where she was. He was even taking her home! She would call it a success. But he hadn't spoken to her in over fifteen minutes, she observed from the timepiece in the dashboard. He seemed to be deep in thought as he drove down the highway, passing over the other cars, making them seem like they were barely chugging along. Out of curiosity, Bella turned to look at the speedometer on Harry's side of the car, and her eyes promptly popped out of her head. "GEEZ! SLOW DOWN!" She cried, and Harry raised an eyebrow at her sudden outburst. "We're only going 90," He insisted, ignoring her. "Yeah. The speed limit is 60!" She argued. Harry rolled his eyes and slowed down to 80 mph. "Chief's daughter, I suppose." "That's right! You could get a ticket!" Bella said. Harry scoffed, and Bella frowned. "Right. I suppose vampires don't need to worry about speeding tickets," she mocked, hoping to bring the subject up again. But Harry was silent. For a second, Bella thought she saw him wiggle his nose in annoyance, but dismissed it as a trick of the highway lights. "Aren't you going to say anything?" She asked again. "What would you like me to say?" "Anything!" Bella cried, frustrated at Harry's unwillingness to humor

her curiosity. "I just called you a vampire! I was half-expecting you to kill me!" "Now that would be a waste of time, don't you think?" Harry smirked. Bella blinked. "So… you're not going to kill me?" "Let's no get ahead of ourselves." Bella was beginning to think that perhaps Harry was playing with her. He seemed to be enjoying her discomfort and refused to give a straight answer on how the night was going to end. She had been expecting maybe an outburst, but Harry was treating this as if it were a game. No… he was having fun with this! Bella crossed her arms and slunk low in her seat. She should have kept her mouth shut. Telling Harry her theory had done nothing so far but make her feel both scared and foolish. Was it so much to ask to be taken seriously? She was so lost in her in her disgruntled state that she nearly missed the fact that Harry had all but blown past her exit. "Um. Harry? My house is off that exit…" She said, but the rest of her thought was silenced as Harry's lips spread in an amused smile. "Who said anything about going to your house?" He asked, and Bella heard the roar of the engine as his foot sank lower on the pedal. "Wait, your house?" Bella asked, looking slightly taken aback. She hadn't thought that Harry would have proposed such a thing so soon. She at least thought that she'd be given some time to adjust, but they were a good two miles down the road already. "Of course. My grandfather will want to meet you," Harry said, smiling internally. There was no doubt in his mind that Albus would scare Bella half the death with his double meanings and forthright attitude. Albus was never one to pass up an opportunity for good clean fun. Having a human in the house would be like giving a present to a twoyear-old. Bella blinked, watching the amused look on Harry's face. She had to ask, "Is Edward going to be there?" She wasn't sure if she wanted him to be there or not. The fact that he would probably spend the

entire time glaring at her pushed her more toward the latter. "You had better hope not," Harry chuckled. Bella pursed her lips in worry. In no time at all, they were pulling up a gravel road into the trees, and Bella seriously hoped that Harry was actually taking her to his house and not some drop off where he would eat her and bury her body. She gulped. Harry turned to her, grinned coolly, and then turned back. They were pulling into a clearing. Bella's eyes almost popped out of her head. This seemed like a place from her dreams! The estate stood on a green that surrounded the house and spread about an acre to the forest edge. The three-story house was perched amidst the most beautiful garden that Bella had ever seen with a cobblestone porch and glass doors. The clouds didn't touch the property at all. Instead it looked like the gods had punched a hole through them and the only thing overhead was stars. It looked like a fairytale. Bella followed his example and opened the door. She jumped when she saw Harry standing outside the door, an small smile on his face, as if expecting something funny to happen. Bella wasn't so sure what was funny to Harry would be as funny to her. Perhaps she had been premature in telling Harry that she knew what he was. For all she knew, he was leading her to the slaughterhouse. 'No. He saved me. There's no way he would let all that effort go to waste… right?' Bella followed Harry up the steps. There were a few lights on inside, mostly the bottom floor. She pulled at her hair and jacket, trying to look more composed. She had no idea what to expect from Harry's grandfather… if he was indeed Harry's real grandfather. Her father hadn't said anything about him. He only spoke of Harry as he hoped she would make friends with him. Tentative friends, then, Bella thought. Harry opened the unlocked door, and light flooded onto the porch. He waved her in first, and she

took a reluctant step onto the hardwood floors of the house. The door slammed behind her, causing her to jump. Harry seemed to be enjoying this thoroughly. He sauntered past her, through the foyer and around a corner, not waiting for her. She scurried after him. For such a short boy, he took long strides and made them look effortless. "Albus?" He called. Bella frowned. He called his grandfather by his first name? She eyed the expensive furniture and antique décor. It looked like a classier version of something she would see on 'Cribs.' Bella walked around the corner to what she expected would be the living room and perhaps a kitchen. She stopped dead in her tracks when she caught sight of the man in middle of the kitchen. She moved beside Harry, her eyes wide at the sight. She had given a few minutes of thought as to what Harry's grandfather would look like… but those thoughts didn't do him justice. The old man looked ancient in every meaning of the word, but instead of frail or weak-looking… he was tall and held himself very strong. His long white hair was pulled back into a ponytail at the base of his neck, as his beard in a similar way. It must have hung to his knees, it was so long! The face was wrinkly but it did nothing to take away from the beauty of the man. If anything, they were decorations on his antique face.. But what surprised her wasn't the elegance nor the beauty nor the… interesting colorful clothes the man donned, but… …the pair of bright purple rollerblades on his feet and the headphones in his ears that blared loudly around his bobbing head. Was the 90-year-old man dancing? Bella blinked, completely snapping out of her wonderment at the old man. What the man said next would have had her fainting proper if Harry hadn't been standing right next her. "Oh Harry! You brought dinner! I shall inform Fleur immediately!" He shouted over the headphones. Bella gasped, and Harry's heavenly laughter followed. Had she been wrong about him? Harry cleared his throat. "Albus, this is Isabella Swan, Chief Swan's daughter." Perhaps Harry had thrown that in as good measure to

show the man that killing her wouldn't be a good idea? Albus just smiled kindly at her. He rolled forward genially. "Simply corking to see you, my dear!" He rolled off towards a bubbling pot on the stove. Bella frowned. She thought vampires didn't eat, but it certainly looked like Albus was cooking something. Harry shook his head. He walked over into the living room and offered her a chair. She indeed needed to sit down. She gratefully took a seat on the large plush couch. "What time will Fleur and everyone get back from hunting?" Harry whispered to Albus, his lips moving too fast for Bella to tell what he was saying. "Oh, you know Fleur! She likes to dine sitting down! It could take a while!" Albus laughed, his voice still uncommonly high. Harry grimaced at the loud voice and unceremoniously plucked the earbuds out of Albus' ears. Albus blinked, and frowned. "What was that for?" He spoke at normal volume then. "Just because you hear loud music, doesn't mean we do," Harry chuckled, taking the iPod from Albus' pocket and placing it on the table. Albus shrugged, and turned to their guest who was watching them over the back of the couch in interest. "Well, Miss Isabella…" Any other person and Bella would have corrected him, but she was too enamored with his willowy exterior and voice. "Harry tells me that you are quite a good student. Very observant, are you?" Bella blushed. "Oh dear…" Albus said, regarding her face. "I see what you mean." He said to Harry. He looked vaguely concerned. "What's wrong?" Bella asked, almost wanting to comfort the man, because a worried expression on such a face was a waste indeed.

"Nothing my dear!" Albus spooned the contents of the boiling pot. He held it up to his nose and sniffed. He narrowed his eyes thoughtfully and turned to Harry. "I don't suppose you have any blood handy?" He whispered. Harry's lips curled wryly. Albus shrugged. He opened the cabinet and pulled out a cup. . "What were you saying, Miss Swan?" Albus asked, stirring the bubbling mixture again, turning completely away from her. "Umm…" Bella wasn't exactly sure what to say. Albus turned to her. "My dear, you look like you've just been brought unknowingly to the slaughterhouse!" That's accurate, Bella thought. She had to admit that when she had entered she had been expecting something entirely different. Albus was a surprise in himself, but the house looked brand new and nothing like the fortress that she had imagined. "Your house is so…" She didn't want to seem rude, but the quirky man's stare was like taking truth serum. She couldn't lie to him. "Clean." "Why thank you! Which reminds me, did you get the vacuum cleaner I asked for?" Albus turned to Harry. "I do enjoy keeping house." "I'll get it for you tomorrow," Harry assured. "Harry, you're getting forgetful," Albus chided. "It's the lack of nutrition, I think. You should eat more." Bella almost choked. "Good lord, dear, are you all right?" Albus asked, concerned, and Bella nodded quickly at the stares that she received. Albus was looking innocently curious but Harry was smirking evilly. Bella glared at him. Albus noticed her glare. "Harry, what have you been doing to her?" "Nothing. If anything I've been helping her. Just an hour or two ago she was being cornered by a gang of rapists and was preparing to fight them." Harry said mockingly. Albus was horrified. "My dear, I mean no offense, but you are not

built to take on a gang by yourself." Bella grumbled. "I can take care of myself." "Obviously not," Harry mumbled, and Albus nodded. "There now, Harry. If I hadn't sent you for flowers and a vacuum cleaner, poor Miss Swan would be dead by now. I call this Providence!" Albus proclaimed dramatically, and Harry rolled his eyes. "I call it extremely good luck." Bella watched as they bantered on, quickly going off on a tangent that had absolutely nothing to do with vacuum cleaners or Bella's good luck. They carried on like good friends, and Albus was looking younger by the second the longer their discussion went. She giggled when Harry pulled on Albus' beard to make some kind of point, and Albus only laughed merrily. "Listen here, you pompous…" "Pompous? You're projecting, Harry, for of the two of us, I believe it is you who are the arrogant one." "What makes you think I'm going to forgo my own cares to buy you stickers first thing in morning!" "Well, with the amount of days you've been skipping school, I would think you would have loads of time…" The top from the pot rattled noisily, breaking them out of their banter. Bella would have thought it was a rather silly discussion if they both hadn't had playful smiles on their faces. Albus gave a noise of delight as he put a spoonful into the cup that he had set aside. Bella's nose wrinkled at the foul smell of the mixture. Harry heard a car pulling into the driveway, and Albus turned toward him with a knowing look on his face. He knew without looking that it was Edward's Volvo, probably packed with his siblings as well. He sighed. He wasn't sure how to explain the situation to Edward, and thought for a minute about pushing Bella outside where hopefully the wind would blow the scent away from

them. Harry grabbed Bella's arm and ushered her outside. He felt Edward pause as he drew nearer to the door. He could probably smell her from outside. "Hey! What—" Bella cried as Harry pushed her out the backdoor as he heard the front open slowly. He trusted Albus to take care of Edward and Jasper. Hopefully he still had some blood pops stashed away that he hadn't given to Edward. Edward threw the car in park and flew up the stairs to the door. He had been forced to stay inside for most of the day, due to the sunlight. As such, he's spend the day finishing up his piece for Harry. The lullaby had all but transfixed Alice and Esme and he played while Esme finished looking over some blueprints and Alice rearranging flowers and amusing herself with visions of the future for Edward and Harry. Emmett laughed at his brother as he emerged from the Volvo. "Oh man! A whole ten hours without seeing our dearest Harry!" He collapsed on the ground in faked agony. "Oh! How my heart breaks!" He cried. Edward kicked him in the stomach before pausing. Jasper stood stone still as well. There was a deep floral smell on the wind. The truly… intoxicating smell. Edward shook his head. This was not going to be good. Alice floated up the stairs just as they all heard a strangled 'Hey! What—' come from the rear of the house. Edward stiffened even more, if possible. As Alice reached for the doorknob, it was pulled open by a very chipper Albus Dumbledore. "Alice! Wonderful to see you dear!" Alice giggled. If there was one thing she loved about Albus, it was that he always greeted them like he hadn't seen them in years. Emmett snorted and the rest of the unaffected party sighed in amusement. Jasper and Edward remained cautious. "The Swan girl is in there?" Jasper asked, sounding strained. Albus

produced two blood pops from his pockets and handed them to Jasper and Edward, who took them gratefully. "It was most unexpected, but it seems as if Miss Swan has made certain inferences about what… well. Long story short, she had concluded that we are vampires but assures us that she won't tell anyone and is currently drilling Harry for more information." Albus said quickly. "Curious little thing, isn't she?" "What!" The screech came from Rosalie, who looked livid. Albus frowned at her, looking displeased as Emmett tried to calm the over-reacting blonde down. Albus looked to Edward, as he was the only one Harry had spoken to about the situation. It looked like Edward had left out the conversation to certain family members. "And has he told her anything?" Rosalie continued. "No. I'm afraid he's much to amused to give up the game just yet," Albus said, thinking fondly about his friend. He was very glad that Harry had kept his head and not killed her right away as he would have done only a few weeks ago. He had much he wanted to learn about her. …and even if there was nothing to be learned, at least he could use her as a guinea pig. Which reminded him… Albus disappeared into the house, suddenly distracted. The Cullens looked at each other and quietly and warily followed. Rosalie and Edward brought up the rear. "I swear, Edward. That little snit is more trouble than he's worth." "He's worth far more than you can imagine, Rosalie," Edward murmured. Jasper sucked determinedly on his blood pop as they entered the kitchen and saw Albus blowing over a cup of apparently hot contents. Outside the window, Edward saw Harry and Bella standing in the middle of the green. Bella appeared to be getting frustrated, and Harry's smirk kept growing larger.

Edward shook his head fondly. Harry was worth more than anyone could imagine. He frowned as he regarded Bella, not knowing exactly what to think of her possibly knowing about them. All he knew, is that if she posed a threat to their life here, he would give it all up for Harry. Everything he had.

Thirteen: You Are So Much Better Than Me Edward held his breath as he exited the back door, walking out onto the highest tier and looked out at his boyfriend and the human. That was about as close as he could get without losing it. He hadn't fed in a little over a day, and not sated enough to get any closer without at least five more blood pops in his pocket just in case. Bella seemed to be thoroughly exasperated. "How do you sleep at night!" She cried, obviously wondering how Harry could be so apparently cruel when she had already assured him that she wouldn't be making any threats. Harry ran a hand through his hair, making it stand on end, looking like he really wanted to say something to that, but caught sight of Edward instead. A slow grin spread across his face at the sight of the tall boy standing there, looking at him. He could make out Edward's perfect red lips from his spot in the middle of the green, almost a whole acre away. Bella noticed Harry's suddenly distraction. She turned slightly to the right, and her breath caught. It always did. Edward Cullen stood like a dark god, wind whipping around him and his beautiful bronze hair untamed and falling in face, making his dark eyes even darker. His eyes weren't on Bella though. They were on Harry. Bella gulped. She was no where near as scared of Harry as she was of Edward. Harry, she thought, would at least think twice about killing her. Edward, on the other hand, probably wouldn't. Harry turned back to see the way that Bella seemed to be completely overwhelmed with the presence of Edward. He frowned at her as her eyes seemed to glaze over in front of him. Bella was in awe of both of

them, but she seemed much more enamored with Edward than she was with Harry. 'She's in love with you,' Harry thought, glaring at her slightly. He wasn't jealous at all, he was just a little miffed that she was ogling something that was his. Had he been a pubescent little teenager, he might have marched right up to Edward and kissed him deeply and possessively just so she would know whom he belonged to, but he wasn't. But Edward heard the thought anyway, and cast a mischievous smile toward him in response. 'Your head is swelling,' Harry thought wryly. It was nice having to convey feelings without talking, but every once in a while, it got to be slightly exasperating. "Which head are referring to?" Edward mumbled, quirking his eyebrows. Harry had done enough teasing at inappropriate moments. Now it was Edward's turn. Bella tilted her head in confusion for a second, before turning to Harry for an explanation. Harry was biting his bottom lip and eyeing Edward thoughtfully. "My my, Edward! I haven't blushed so hard since Didyme told me she liked my new earmuffs!" Albus said cheerily as he emerged onto the porch. Bella saw that he had removed his rollerblades, but still seemed as tall as the trees that surrounded the clearing. "You can't blush, Albus," Edward chuckled quietly him as he wrinkled his nose at the steaming mixture in the cup that Albus carried. "No, but if I could…" He smiled serenely as he all but floated to the bottom of the stairs and approached Bella. Bella couldn't help but smile as the man came forward. She fell in love with him the moment she saw him, like many before her. Albus had a grandfatherly nature to him that made anyone, even complete strangers, family. "My dear, if you please…" Albus held out the cup to her. "Oh…" Bella took the cup without a thought. Then she stared at it uncertainly and cringed at the bad smell.

"Al, what is that?" Harry questioned, looking ill with the potency of the mixture. "Something to help Bella with her little problem," Albus said. "Don't worry, my dear. It won't hurt you. But if you want Edward to stop glaring at you, then it's best if you take it." Bella looked at the old man and couldn't see any mischief or malice in his eyes. The light blue orbs peered friendly and innocently at her, so she decided to take a chance. If it was poison, at least she could say they took pity on her and got it over with quickly. She gulped it down quickly to avoid having it making too much impact on her taste buds. She quivered with the bitter taste for a second, and blinked a few times as her eyes began to tear up. She looked up as the taste began to fade, and Albus was looking at her expectantly. Harry was frowning at Albus' expression. Nothing seemed to be happening, except Bella was getting increasingly nervous at the three intent stares she was drawing. "Hi," she said, smiling sheepishly. "What's your point, Albus?" Harry asked when nothing happened. "Wait for it to enter her blood stream, and then I believe you will start to…oh my..." Albus pinched the bridge of his nose. "That's more potent than I was expecting…" "Whoa!" Harry cried, backing up a bit as if he smelled something rank. His eyes screwed up with the power of the smell. The sweet floral scent was gone and replaced with… There were no words. Edward winced. "It's like she's been hanging around a hound…" Bella looked hurt as the men around her covered their noses and looked at her accusingly. She subtly smelled her hair and armpits before deciding that she didn't smell anything other than normal. "I.. I smell bad?" She asked timidly, looking at Albus. The old man wore an apologetic expression. "Easily rectified, I assure you!" Albus said, composing himself.

Amidst the foul smell and the comedy of the situation, Edward realized that his lust for her blood had completely vanished. It was replaced with something that was decidedly gut wrenching, but he no longer felt any desire to drink her blood. "Well, I was hoping to merely water the scent down a bit, but I seem to have gone a bit overboard…" Albus said, thoughtfully. Harry wanted to laugh, but that would have required breathing, and he wasn't ready to inhale that scent again so soon. "Whoa! Someone pulled a fast one out here!" Emmett had emerged onto the porch, looking around quizzically before his eyes landed on Bella. "You gotta warn somebody, Swan. We've got an unnaturally good sense of smell so it's like…BAM!" Emmett snapped his fingers out in front of his face in emphasis. Bella looked positively mortified and was blushing horribly. Edward noted that he didn't feel even the slightest urge to drink from her then. Albus took pity on her, and went back inside to water the mixture down a bit. Harry cleared his throat. "Well," he started, smiling at her. "It looks like we won't be having you for dinner after all." Edward tentatively descended the stairs, waiting for the moment when the intoxicating scent would reveal itself again, but it didn't. Albus had found a way to diffuse the scent of Bella's blood, but now Edward had a completely different reason to stay away from her. She smelled like she had been rolling around with a pack of wild werewolves. "Wait… so…." Bella started, still sniffing herself to see if she could tell a difference, "…enter the blood stream… that drink makes my blood smell bad?" She looked at Harry expectantly. Harry rolled his eyes. Perhaps it was better to just not talk around her. Her usually correct assumptions were beginning to wear on him. Albus emerged again with another cup and bustled down the steps to stand before Bella once again. "Deeply sorry, my dear. This won't

help right away, but it will wear down the potency of the previous drink eventually." "Eventually?" Harry asked wryly. Eventually for Albus could be anywhere from a few seconds to three years. Bella pouted as she took the other drink. Harry had slipped out from behind her as Albus observed her reaction to his newest… ingenious… potion. Edward had made it to the bottom of the stairs, still holding his breath to block the scent. He would have to remember to thank Albus for this. Jasper would as well, if only there was a way to make every single human on the planet take it. Harry stood in front in of him, looking at him as if awaiting judgment. Edward eyed him thoughtfully. 'Are you mad…?' Edward shook his head, narrowing his eyes. "Why would you think that?" 'This means that little Miss Swan is going to be following us around even more meticulously than you used to follow me.' Edward smiled sheepishly. "Was it really that bad?" Harry tilted his head. 'If you hadn't… it would have turned out the same way. It's funny. Even when we think we're doing something we're not supposed to, it ends up just following Providence's plan, whether we like it or not.' Edward pulled Harry forward, wrapping his arms around the shorter boy's waist. "How long has Albus been working on that little potion of his?" He asked curiously. He now knew what Albus was working on every time they came around to the house when he would refuse to tell anyone about the project. "Since he found out that Isabella was your singer," Harry guessed. That was when he first noticed Albus working on it. "I expect he's been conferring with Carlisle on it as well, of course, he can be vague enough to not let on to what he was doing. Albus likes seeing the surprise on people's faces."

"He's brilliant," Edward observed. He sighed as he regarded the older man who seemed to have taken a liking to Bella Swan. He said so to Harry and the other laughed. "He likes her because now he has a guinea pig to experiment on. No doubt he has a lot more projects that he's dying to try on her. I saw him eyeing some muffin mix the other day…" Harry shook his head. Edward chuckled, but his eyes narrowed as he watched the girl again. "How did this happen? We spent so much time trying to hide ourselves from humans…" Harry sighed. "She was well-positioned to find out. A singer, the van, the trouble she seems to find herself in…" He shook his head. Something was missing. She had been silent when he asked her how she had come up with the idea that they could be vampires. She was hiding something… or protecting someone. Edward nodded, placing a kiss on Harry's neck. Harry breathed. Every time Edward's lips met his skin, he always felt butterflies in his stomach. He swallowed as Edward's nose traces a path down his neck to his shoulder, nipping at the skin periodically. Bella watched as Harry and Edward leaned toward each other, Edward making love to Harry's shoulder while Harry stroked his hair soothingly. His eyes had fluttered closed and a ghost of a smile echoed on his lips. Edward's white immaculate hands floated up and down Harry's body. "Young love." Bella turned to Albus who was regarding his friend and Edward's moment together with joyful eyes. "It's times like this that we realize that magic really does exist," Albus murmured thoughtfully, turning away from them. "They're perfect for each other," Bella whispered in agreement. Albus smiled. "I'm glad you think so." He tilted his head at her. "For a moment there, I wasn't sure what you wanted from us." The old man's eyes twinkled at her Bella couldn't help herself. "Please... You are vampires?"

"Vampires sleep during the day, isn't that right?" "No… yes!" Bella sighed in frustration. "I mean… not all myths can be true, right?" "Vampires are myths." Bella could already tell that Albus was going to be just as infuriating if not more so than Harry when it came to getting information out of him. She then knew where Harry got it from. Perhaps Albus really was his grandfather, then. "Pray tell me, Miss Swan. Assuming that you are right, vampires can't emerge in the daylight, yet you see Harry almost everyday at school. Though he has been skipping a lot. I'll have to talk to him about that." Albus said aside, smiling to himself. "The Cullens skip school when it's sunny out." "One would think it would be very irresponsible for them to go out in daylight at all since the sun can turn them to ashes in seconds," Albus stated knowingly. Bella blinked. "Assumption number two: silver crucifixes." Albus opened his coat and a silver Celtic cross lay over his shirt. It was very antique looking, like something Bella might see in an old museum. "I suppose you had garlic bread at the restaurant you went to? I can smell it on your breath. Aren't vampires fiercely allergic to garlic?" Bella sighed. "I know what you're trying to do." "You do?" Albus seemed delighted. "What is that, do you think?" "You're trying to make me back down, but I won't. Harry already tried. I'm very stubborn," she announced, trying to sound as serious as possible with Albus peering closely at her. "And very foolish as it turns out," Albus said, stroking his beard. "You're steadfast in your assumption that we are vampires, yet you follow Harry around for answers and even let him bring you to our… lair, should I call it?" Albus' eyes strayed as he went off on another tangent. Bella thought he should be taken in for attention deficit

disorder. He seemed to run off on a lot of tangents. "I don't think he would hurt me…" Bella said, turning to Harry. 'Edward, on the other hand…' Harry raised a brow at her, but otherwise was untouched. She didn't see Albus nod his head slightly at Harry. Edward let his hands fall from Harry's waist as the boy started forward, sauntering slowly. "We'll humor you, my dear," Albus said genially as his friend approached. "Assuming that we are, in fact, vampires, what do you want from us?" Bella sighed. "I just… I'm interested… Edward saved me…" "Interested?" Bella jumped when she realized that Harry was right behind her. Edward stood slightly behind him, still looking darkly at her. "What, like you want to write a book about us? Like a research topic, perhaps? This isn't 'Interview with a Vampire', darling. You really think vampires sit around talking to humans about their day-today lives?" He asked sarcastically. Bella stepped back, her eyes wide. "Harry, you're scaring her," Albus said. Bella didn't know if he was scolding him or amused with him. "Finally," Edward mumbled. It was about time the girl showed a little fear. He was beginning to think they had lost their edge. "Are you insane?" Harry rolled his eyes as he recognized Rosalie's voice from behind him. The statuesque girl had emerged onto the tier next to her husband, and was glaring at the threesome on the green. "You, girl, are out of line!" Rosalie snarled, stomping down the stairs, her stilettos clicking harshly against the marble. "How dare you stalk in here and make demands!" Rosalie kept ranting until she and Harry were side-by-side. "For once, I agree with Harry," she proclaimed, nodding at him. "This isn't a story book or a fantasy. Your curiosity is going to get you killed, if it hasn't already." Bella looked hurt, looking from the fierce blonde to Harry. Both of

them looked sinister in their own right, but the friendly-looking Albus was at her side, so she felt a little better. She felt sure that there was no threat whatsoever as long as the genial man was beside her. "I think if you were going to kill me, then you would have already done it." "Oh, the snit makes sense," Rosalie sneered and turned to Harry. "Why haven't you killed her?" "Darling, if she had any doubts about what we were a second ago, she surely doesn't now." Harry mumbled under his breath, casting an annoyed glance at Rosalie. "I already knew anyway!" Bella declared quickly, not wanting to make any more enemies, especially as the blonde was one of her more vocal critics. "You should have killed her the second she brought it up," Rosalie hissed quietly at the shorter boy, tossing annoyed looks at the human girl before her. "There's a reason we're vegetarians, Rose, and that is that we typically don't like having to off humans," Harry countered, boring into his companion. Rosalie huffed. "True story," Albus chipped in. "Killing people isn't very humanitarianlike, is it?" Emmett snorted. He had taken a seat on the stairs, and looked very much like he was enjoying a movie at the theatre. "I agree, Albus. Not very humanitarian at all." He gave the old man thumbs up. Rosalie rolled her eyes. "What is that saying…" she pretended to ask herself as she smiled evilly at Bella. "Curiosity killed the cat? Wonder how they get such sayings…?" Bella was becoming quickly unnerved at how they seemed to be discussing her fate as if they were discussing what was to be had for breakfast. Of course, they were probably closely related, but she didn't care to think about that at the moment. She watched as Harry and Rosalie argued, and Albus stood thoughtfully aside. Edward and Emmett watched from behind them and she could see Alice and Jasper watching from the second floor balcony. She felt like she was

on a buffet platter and everyone was waiting their turn. "She's a danger to our coven, Harry," Rosalie argued, and Harry was quickly losing his reasons as to why he should keep the girl alive. He enjoyed the games that he had played with her, admired her gall, and even found her funny at times. But those were hardly deal-breakers, and the deal was that any human that found out about their existence was to be terminated. It wasn't the law. It was common sense. "Fine," Harry said resolutely, and Bella gasped as he suddenly flashed to her side, taking her in his arms and bending her head back. She closed her eyes as she felt his teeth on her neck. This is it, she thought. No more school, no more Charlie, no more Cullens, no more anything. She had never given much thought to how she would die. She didn't know where she would go, if there was a heaven or a hell. Was she welcome to either of them? She wasn't good enough for heaven, but she didn't think she was bad enough for hell. But she didn't scream. Instead she told Charlie she loved him, and hoped that her mother would be okay. She always was. But all things considered, she figured that dying in the arms of a beautiful, charming, and infuriating boy would be a success. She waited for the pain… or the emptiness… or the nothingness… But it didn't come. She opened one eye, wondering about the holdup, and was surprised to see Harry looking at her as if she had suddenly sprouted a clown nose. She frowned. "What?" Harry blinked, looking at her incredulously. "You didn't scream." Bella licked her lips, wondering if she had somehow done something wrong, which was silly considering her situation. "Oh… sorry. Should I have?" She didn't know why she felt the need to apologize. She heard a snort off to the side, and figured it must have been Albus. She felt betrayed by the old man. She was so sure he would protect her. Harry was flabbergasted. The girl didn't even scream. She had time

to. But instead she was completely calm, didn't resist at all, and closed her eyes in submission. Even when he stopped and held still she didn't struggle. It wouldn't have helped either way but it sure would have made Harry feel better. What kind of person just resigned themselves to death? "What did I tell you about screaming?" He asked. It hadn't been that long ago that he told her whenever in such a situation she should scream. Bella blinked, and thought back for a moment, still leaning in Harry's arms. His face was closer to hers than she ever remembered, and he was even more perfect up close. "When a group of guys I don't know surround me?" She asked, and Harry narrowed his eyes. "But, I know you, so it doesn't count." Harry thought for a about half a second before he dropped her unceremoniously to the ground. Bella let out a yelp as she landed on her arse, a surprised and confused look on her face. "I can't do it," Harry said, smiling and chuckling at the same time. "It's too much!" "I quite agree. I like her," Albus concurred, regarding the girl on the grass. "What good would screaming have done? We're not close to anywhere else! We're in the middle of the… woods…." Bella faltered as all the eyes turned to her once again. "Screaming is a reflex, my dear," Albus said gently as he floated forward. "Seldom does one actually weigh the pros and cons, or the usefulness of it." He offered her a hand, and she let him pull her effortlessly to her feet. "This doesn't change anything," Rosalie said, looking dirtily at Harry. "If you want to kill her, be my guest." Harry said, secretly wondering if Rosalie would actually do it. Rosalie snarled at him, but didn't move. Instead, she looked at Bella, sneering at her. "What do you want from us?" Bella shook her head. "Nothing… I just… I want to know more about

you." Bella bit her lip. Rosalie waved her hands in exasperation before turning to stalk off toward the house, convinced that nothing she said or did would change Harry's decision. "If you do anything to my books, I'll use your hair to weave as a teacozy!" Harry called, watching in dissatisfaction as she slammed the glass door, and Harry heard a very definite crack, and saw the break in the glass streak across the pane. He groaned. Another thing he would have to get from the store the next day. "I'm so sorry…" Bella whispered, starring at the ground, convinced that she had just induced a family feud. "Nonsense, we can buy a new one," Harry muttered, before turning to her. "Of everything else, you're sorry about the door?" "No! I'm sorry about… well, Rosalie…" She trailed off, wincing as she saw the blond goddess stalking through the house through the windows. Harry shook his head. "Keep in mind, darling, that the only reason you're still alive is because I've gone soft, you amuse me, and it makes me very happy to see Rosalie angry. And besides that, Albus has been curious about humans for centuries." "I have been wondering about the purpose of a rubber duck for sometime now. It's quite nonsensical in my humble opinion," Albus said with a quizzical look on his face. Edward had his arms crossed, not liking the situation at all, but he agreed that there was hardly anything they could do besides kill her. It would be regretful to have to kill anyone, and Edward knew that better than most. Taking numerous lives during the time when he went rogue had convinced him that killing humans definitely wasn't something that he could live with. Unfortunately, Bella was no exception. 'I'm glad they didn't kill her.' He turned his head to see Alice and Jasper on the balcony, Alice looking even happier than was characteristic.

"Why's that?" He asked. Alice leaned down even more. If it were anyone else, Edward would have been sure she was about to fall over the edge. 'We're going to be great friends.' Edward rolled his eyes. Alice would make friends with a telephone pole if the mood struck her. "In that case… am I allowed to ask questions, now?" Bella asked, looking hopeful. Harry smiled slightly, but ultimately let Albus handle it as he turned toward Edward, seeking the other boy's arms. "How old are you?" He heard Bella ask his friend. Albus shook his head. "I've lost count, my dear. Old enough so that whenever someone finds one of my old friends, it's a 'Great Archaeological Find'." He chuckled as Bella's eyes widened. "This is very taboo," Edward whispered as Harry approached. "Indeed," Harry answered, and turned as he felt Alice land beside him. She smiled angelically at him before she floated towards Bella and Albus, and they laughed when she quickly enveloped Bella in a hug. "She won't be any trouble! I've seen it!" Alice said, and Bella looked a tad bit uncomfortable as she was pressed into the stone cold body. "She means she won't be any trouble yet," Edward whispered next to Harry's ear. "Perhaps we should look at the bright side. You don't feel the need to drain her any longer," Harry said, and Jasper was beside them in a second. "Nope. At least… not any more than a human feels the need to drink year-old milk," Jasper said, scrunching his nose. Bella had to get home at some point. Harry had been given that task since he was the one who had brought her there in the first place. Rosalie had holed herself up in one of the spare bedrooms and Harry was satisfied that Jasper and Albus would keep her from destroying

his library in anger. Edward volunteered to go with him. He was still wary about Bella and figured that his presence would keep her quite for most of the road home. It was only a plus that afterwards, he could take Harry to his own house instead of back to the battlefield that was Albus and Harry's house. It was some kind of miracle that the Delacours hadn't returned from their hunt. Bella was understandably nervous about getting into the Volvo with Edward, but settled for making herself as small as possible in the backseat, while Harry occupied the front passenger. "What do you think Gabrielle will say?" Edward asked quietly, and Harry only shrugged. "Who's Gabrielle?" Bella asked, sounding very much like curious little child. "Your worst nightmare," Harry answered, frowning. He didn't even want to entertain what would happen when Gabrielle found out that not only was he conversing with an unattached girl, but a human to boot. He would never hear the end of it. He cursed himself for letting it get so out of hand, but for the moment, he would have to trust Alice that Bella wouldn't bring them any trouble. "Does she fall into the screaming category?" Bella asked curiously, and completely serious. Edward looked beside him to his companion, and Harry wore a smirk on his face as he caught Edward's eyes. "Why yes. If you see her, you should definitely scream. As loud and obnoxiously as possible." 'I'd reserve seats to that event.' Harry thought snidely, and Edward chuckled. Bella smiled in delight at the sound of Edward's laugh. She hoped against hope that they could be friends then, as Alice had all but invited her over for a sleepover before she left. Edward hadn't said as much as two words to her. Her blood didn't smell as sweet, so it took away his reason to glare at her so much, but she was butting in on his family and boyfriend, which she could understand. She didn't know what else she could do to convince them that she wouldn't bring them trouble, and she wasn't quite confident enough to talk to

him just yet. Humorously, the whole thing made her feel like a child in a car with a pair of irritated parents thinking she was asking too many questions. Edward would be the father and Harry would be the mother. She shook herself out of that image, giggling softly to herself. "Gabrielle doesn't like humans?" Bella asked, tentatively. "Gabrielle doesn't like anyone," Harry said blandly, staring out the window. Bella noticed that Edward's hand laid over Harry's on the gearshift, a decidedly subtle way of showing affection without drawing too much attention to it. Bella, however, was very observant. "Ah," she said, leaning back with a sigh. She looked at the timepiece that glowed from the dashboard. It was almost one in the morning. Charlie would be pissed. "Can I ask another question?" "Can you assume the answer like you've done everything else?" Harry asked sarcastically before nodding his reluctant assent. "If you're so old… have you met Dracula?" Harry shook his head. "No, I have not made the acquaintance of that fictional character, nor have I have the pleasure of meeting the vampire Lestat or the Easter bunny." "So you read Anne Rice books, then?" Bella asked. "I find vampire novels to be amusing," Harry drawled, "though ridiculous, for the most part." Bella nodded with a sigh as they pulled up to her house. She was surprised that she didn't offer any directions, as she had been distracted, but it seemed they didn't need any. Edward parked in the road, and unlocked the doors. "Will I see you at school tomorrow?" She asked as she opened the door, her bag in hand. Harry turned enough to have her within his sights, and Bella noted that Edward was glancing at them from the corner of his eye. "If it's cloudy," Harry smiled sinisterly, his teeth flashing. Bella stepped back and watched as the car sped away from the curb, disappearing into a cloud of dust. She licked her lips. Things were

definitely about to get a heck of a lot more interesting around Forks. Edward held the door open for Harry as the shorter boy slipped through into the dark house. Esme and Carlisle didn't seem to be there. Perhaps they had either decided to go hunting or they had made their way to Albus' while they took Bella home. Edward made to flick the lights on, but Harry expressed a want to keep it dark. He liked it better dark. Instead, Harry pulled Edward to him, resting his head on the taller boy's chest and inhaling the scent from his collared shirt. Edward let his head rest on Harry's, stroking his back comfortingly. 'What is it about this place?' Harry thought, stroking the fabric on Edward's shirt. 'I haven't had a moment's peace since I got here, and I find myself letting go of just about everything that I know. About a week ago, I would have killed Bella if she announced that she found out what we were.' Edward shrugged. "I still don't know about this. She says she won't tell anyone, but it's dangerous enough that she knows. She's never going to leave us alone now." 'My hope was that if we told her, she would be too scared to come near us again. My intelligence about the way that human mind works was incorrect once again. If she gets too much to handle, perhaps she'll get herself killed and save us the trouble. We're not the only vampires in the world, after all.' Edward chuckled. "I didn't bring you here to talk about Bella," he said, as he smoothed Harry's hair away from his face. Harry leaned his head up. His head barely cleared Edward's nose. "What did you bring me here for, then, Edward?" His voice was low and husky, and Edward almost shivered in delight. Instead, Edward took Harry's hand and led him to the living room where his piano was situated. He sat Harry down next to him and lifted the cover gently, running his hands genially over the keys. Harry smiled kindly at him. He leaned his left arm against Edward's right, his nose brushing the broad shoulder. His eyes caught sight of the music on the stand, and his lips parted as he read the title. 'Les

Hauteurs'. "You wrote music for Gabrielle's house?" Harry asked wryly, smiling deviously at Edward. Edward shook his head. "Harry's Lullaby sounded… off. But whenever I think of you when you're not here, I always think of you at that house. It was a happy time for you, the happiest, maybe, and I wanted this to remind you of it." "You imagine me at Les Hauteurs?" "I can see it in your head, if you'll remember." Edward nudged him playfully. Harry leaned his head on Edward's shoulder, sniffing slightly. "What do you imagine, then, when you think of it?" His eyes peered into Edward's earnestly from beneath his lashes. Edward smiled softly, thoughtfully, raising his head. "I imagine you and me, with Albus, my family… Didyme and Marcus…" Harry lifted his head at that, peering into Edward's serious eyes. "You see Didyme and Marcus?" Edward had met Marcus before, and that acquaintance had failed to make a distinct impression upon him. But Edward had never met Didyme. Harry couldn't think of why Edward would have her and Marcus in his imaginings when they didn't mean hardly anything to him. Edward caught Harry's thoughts. "Harry. You think about them all the time. I'm listening to you even when you don't think I am. When you think about them, I see them like they really are, and what they are to you. I'm afraid I've formed a keen love for them also because you love them so well in your thoughts. It's hard to feel anything else for them, frankly." Edward smiled gently. Harry's eyes were shining with undisclosed happiness. "I know her through you. I know the real Marcus through you," Edward nodded. "And whenever you imagine me, it's always with them and Albus. Enough said, it makes you happy." He laughed. Harry looked lost in thought, and whilst the memories and fantasies floated across Harry's mind, Edward moved his hands to the keys, careful not to dislodge Harry's cheek from his shoulder.

He started slow, and then Harry's lullaby flooded the air like a cool breeze winding its way through the mountain peaks, relaxing, sad… and haunting. "Harry?" Edward heard the voice that was as smooth as waves on a shore engulf the air around him, and knew Harry was lost in a memory. It was Didyme's voice. He was sure. He continued to play, as the lullaby was the perfect accompaniment to the voice. "Harry? Are you listening?" "Of course, Didyme. You're very hard to ignore." Heavenly laughter filled Harry's thoughts, and the boy smiled, exhaling elatedly. "Well, you're going to be hearing a lot of it! Who knows when I'll see you again? I want to make sure that you hear enough of my voice to never forget it." "If I don't see you for another century or so, it would be impossible for me to forget you. You know that." Harry's voice sounded different as he spoke to Didyme. Reverently, almost, as if speaking to a beloved grandmother. It was calm, and not sarcastic at all. "Promise me you'll write to me, or send word with Craig? It would break my heart to fall out of touch with you." "I'll write so much, you'll be sick of me. I promise you that." "Never, my love. I will never tire of listening to you, or talking to you." "Perhaps not. You could spare me from you and Marcus' warm and fuzzy escapades. Last time, you wrote me three pages on it, and several details I could have done without." "One day, my love, you will find someone and then you will realize that you can't go for more than ten minutes without speaking about them." "I imagine I'll get positively annoying when that finally happens."

This time it was Harry's laughter that echoed over the soft lullaby, floating hauntingly in the air. "When it happens, Harry, you don't have to spare one single detail, because I want to hear everything, even the fuzzy ones." "Then you shall have it, should I ever find that person. But after this much time, one has to wonder…" "It will be soon, Harry. And when it happens, Providence will give you a reason as to why you waited for so long." The music echoed in the dark room, much like the night two weeks ago. It seemed like such a long time ago then, even though it really wasn't. Harry smiled softly as the music, the memory, and smell of Edward engulfed him. This was nice. The music carried on and seemed endless. Harry didn't mind in the least. If he could, he would spend his eternity in the heaven that he found himself in. It was peaceful here. Edward smiled, still elbows deep in Harry's thoughts, glad that he liked it. The music was winding down into a low hymn, so soft that Edward could have hummed it himself. A few minutes later found the pair of them sprawled out on the floor before the piano. Edward lay on his back and Harry's head lay on his chest, his leg entwined with Edward's and his arms around his waist. 'That was beautiful.' "Glad you liked it. Esme was particularly fond of it." "Esme has good taste." Harry wondered about a good many things when he was with Edward. Most of those things were in plain view of the boy in question, but Harry didn't mind that so much. It was interesting to come up with new and creative ways of surprising him. Edward had given him so many perfect moments in the last few weeks that Harry felt he had been doing nothing but taking from him and giving nothing back. He had limited experience about how to act with a lover, and rejected any semblance of what he had acted like with Gabrielle under her allure. It seemed to come naturally to Edward, and Harry

had let himself go with the flow. But he wanted something, wanted to do something then, for Edward. Something to show Edward that he wasn't standing alone, that Harry was with him. It was a big jump, he knew, but he was confident that he was ready to ascertain the relationship between them. And he was fairly certain that Edward wasn't expecting it at all. He kept his mind carefully blank, which was rather hard because of the chorus of emotions that flowed through him. He was acting positively juvenile, but then again, he had witnessed the same behavior from Marcus when he first laid eyes on Aro's kid sister. Harry had teased him for days that he had fallen unceremoniously in love with a human, but Aro waited a while before turning his sister, curious as to what her power would be. It was ironic really. Didyme had caused everyone around her happiness, and without the cause, there was no more happiness to be had in Marcus. Harry lay pensively still for a second, and noticed the rather convenient placement of his hands on Edward's chest. He smiled mischievously to himself as he moved a hand to caress the planes of Edward's wide and muscular chest. He heard a soft sigh of contentment above him. His smile widened when the palm of his hand strayed against a nipple. He flicked it once with his fingertip and heard the sharp inhalation from Edward. He did it again, and Edward's hand tightened his grip on his hipbone. The nipple hardened under his touch, and Harry tweaked it again, thumbing it carefully. "Harry?" A raspy voice came above him. He was pleased with himself that he could make Edward sound like that. "Yes?" He whispered back. He moved his head slightly over to have access to the pert nub, and nosed it for a second before he tapped it with his tongue. He heard a gulp. "W-what are you doing?" "I don't know…" Harry smiled to himself. He really didn't know what he was doing. Aside from reading many books on the subject, he was no expert on pleasing another person in real life. He relied on the sighs and gasps from Edward to lead him on as his teeth came down

on the then sensitive nub, biting it through Edward's shirt gently. "God…" He took his finger and circled it. He threw one leg over Edward's so that he straddled the taller boy's hips, looking down at him as his hands worked the planes of his chest. Edward stared up at him, astonished, but with his lips parted in… what Harry assumed to be want. He smiled, satisfied that Edward enjoyed his ministrations before he leaned down, pulling the hem of the dark blue shirt up. When it was high enough, Harry licked the nipple again, nipping at it from time to time, and then finally…. "Oh…!" Harry sucked on it as he grinded his jean-clad hips into Edward's, rotating slowly. He moved his other hand to relieve the other nipple, thumbing it as he worked the other one furiously as Edward's gasps got louder and louder. Harry seriously hoped that Carlisle and Esme's moonlighting would last a good amount of time, because he was greatly enjoying this. He switched and began to give the same courtesy to the other nipple as he had to the first, and soon he was kissing up and down Edward's perfectly toned chest, still gyrating his hips against the taller boy, and Edward let out a deep moan as Harry's tongue circled his bellybutton. Harry dipped his tongue in, and again… and again… until he felt Edward quivering underneath him. He moved upward, placing kisses up the chest until he came to Edward's neck, sucking greedily on it, licking it, and nipping at it. He delivered a very direct suck to Edward's Adam's apple, kissing it before lifting his head to look his impassioned boyfriend in the eye. "Hi," He whispered heatedly, and Edward let out a strangled laugh. "Where is this coming from?" Edward asked, and groaned again as Harry thrust his hips against him experimentally, drinking in Edward's reaction.

"Is it good?" Harry asked, though he was certain that he knew the answer. He wanted to hear Edward say it. "Heavenly." Harry smiled widely, and swooped down to kiss Edward hotly, his tongue plundering the other boy's mouth. He groaned when he felt Edward's bigger hands moving down his back, finally grasping his arse and pressing him closer to his himself, as if Harry wasn't close enough already. It was Harry's turn to gasp he felt something decidedly NOT a pencil grinding up into him. His own erection thrust back, and they swallowed each other's moans of desperation down their throats. Edward flipped Harry clean over, and had his shirt off within seconds, kissing passionately down the smaller boy's chest, and repeating the procedure on Harry's nipples. The boy cried out as Edward latched onto one, tugging at it feverishly while thumbing the other one in slow and seductive circles. "Merlin…." Harry sighed. "Please don't bring that old man into this…" Edward mumbled against Harry's pebbling nub, and Harry's stomach quaked with his laughs. Edward licked and nibbling his way down Harry's chest, swirling his tongue around Harry's bellybutton and then dipping in for a taste, gaining a light squeak from the boy below him. He nuzzled his way down the thin line of hair that disappeared into Harry's jeans. He placed a soft kiss on the space where skin and denim met, before carefully undoing the button with his teeth. He spared a look at Harry quickly, seeing the boy's eyes closed with his arms spread beside him, looking like he was trying to catch the sky. His red lips parted as his eyes peered open, looking down at Edward. Edward smiled lovingly up at him, before instructing him to lift his hips. Harry did so, and the jeans came off. Harry lifted himself so that his hands supported him from behind. He brought his legs back so that he sat on his calves, looking thoughtfully at Edward, who seemed to have completely frozen.

Harry's cock was perfect, just like the rest of him. Not overly big, but not too small either. Edward looked into Harry's eyes as his hand moved to touch it. Harry exhaled as Edward thumbed his head, the rest of his hand moving to grip the column of hard skin. Edward's hands moved reverently around it, tugging at it from time to time, moving his thumb nail over the slit genially, making Harry gulp with the influx of feelings. Good feelings. Edward pumped his hand over the hot flesh for a minute, before licking his lips. He lowered his chest onto Harry's thighs, wrapping his arms around Harry's slim waist and licked the head deliberately, before engulfing it in his mouth, moving his head up and down slowly. Harry bit his lip, and his knees quaked. It felt… so good. Edward's kisses to every part of his body were like flames erupting through his veins, bringing a pain so sweet that it could only be described as the highest form of pleasure. He had never felt anything so wonderful before. Edward kissed and licked him, inch to inch, and Harry swallowed, feeling as though he would explode from all the wonderful touches and emotions that Edward brought out of him. Edward buried his face in Harry's lap, his bronze head working Harry closer and closer to unknown heights as he hugged the boy's body to him as well. His forehead lay against Harry's stomach, his chest on Harry's thighs. Edward kissed the tip of the pleasured organ, enjoying the velvety texture on his tongue. He gave quick repetitive sucks to the slit, and that was all it took. An agonizing and truly heavenly moment later, Harry came, and Edward took of him all he could get. Harry was lost. He was certain he had just lost copious amounts of brain cells as he erupted, all of his focus had been stolen from him and instead all he could fathom were the shocks coursing through him. Edward's hair nuzzled down to his stomach, and held him so close to him, and all the while delivering so much pleasure into him that he couldn't even think straight. There were no words. Only pure… unadulterated… Ecstasy. Somehow, in his quest to give Edward something in return for

everything he had given Harry, his happiness, his freedom, his passion, and endless amounts of pleasure, Edward had done it again. But Harry wasn't done yet. There was still one more thing that had to be taken care of, and he intended to. He intended to. Edward swallowed. He had to admit, it wasn't the best taste in the world, but it was the meaning behind the action that had him responding to it as if it were the finest cuisine he'd ever had. The look on Harry's face had been everything he hoped for: uninhibited, uncensored, and purely Harry at the heights of abandon and passion. Edward might have had more time to dwell on that look if he hadn't suddenly found himself on his back again, Harry's mouth on his, plundering him as if he had stolen something. Edward groaned loudly as he felt Harry's fingers working on his jeans, tugging them off. Harry was nothing if not thorough, and Edward felt the full impact of Harry's dexterous nature as Harry sampled him thoroughly, leaving no piece of skin on his member untouched, working him steadily until Edward found his toes curling and his fingers in Harry's hair, crying out when he finally reached completion. Harry sat up, straddling Edward's hips, licking his lips and looking very much like a satisfied cat. Edward peered dazedly at him. "I think it's safe to say that I got my revenge." Edward groaned, shifting slightly and smiled affectionately as that caused Harry to shift with him. "Whatever I did, please tell me so I can do it everyday for the rest of my life…"

Fourteen: One Mistake From Being Together Bella entered the lunchroom, walking towards her normal spot, which was quickly becoming her least favorite spot. Mike and Jessica had gotten together and that left Eric and Tyler room to swoop in and take her, but Bella would have none of it. Humans boys had been spoiled for her; forever, she feared.

She spared a look at the Cullen's table and frowned when she saw only Alice, Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett at the table. Where were Edward and Harry? She sat her bag down at the table, got her food from the lunch line and returned. Jessica was smiling secretively at her, which in Bella's experiences, never meant anything good. "Edward Cullen is staring at you," she giggled, pointing. Bella looked back at the Cullen's table, and Edward still wasn't there. But Jessica's finger pointed to the other side of the lunchroom where, sure enough, Edward Cullen sat by himself, looking at her. He looked sinfully good with his hair ruffled up and looking as though he had just been thoroughly… She blushed horribly, about to turn away when he raised a finger and beckoned her over. She looked around for a second, doubting he was actually referring to her. Edward hadn't said more than two words to her, other than that time he saved her life, and even then it was clear that he wanted nothing more than to be away from her. Now he was asking her to sit with him. She gulped, thinking that he was about to warn her to stay away from Harry and his family. She sighed, grabbing her bag and moving toward his table tentatively. She looked around herself nervously. Harry still wasn't there. Surely he would be at school if the Cullens were? She stopped in front of Edward's table, waiting for him to start berating her. Instead he was looking curiously at her. Bella smelled herself as inconspicuously as possible, but she couldn't smell anything either way. She hoped that whatever Albus had given her was still working. "Please sit." Edward's voice floated over her and before she could think about what she was doing, she was sinking into a chair, her bag falling to the floor at her side. She blinked, and folded her arms on the table, not looking him in the eye. He was still staring at her as if trying to figure something out. "Why are you talking to me, all of a sudden?" Bella asked, twiddling her fingers before her.

Edward smirked, casting a look aside. "I'm asking the questions," he stated firmly, and watched in satisfaction as Bella squirmed in her chair. He winced at the smell, but pushed it away. "How did you figure it out?" Bella shook her head. "There were signs…." "Signs that automatically make you think 'vampire'?" Edward asked quietly, quirking an eyebrow. Bella swallowed. "What do you want to know?" "I want to know who told you." Bella stared incredulously at his expressionless face. How did he know there was a 'who'? Was there something on her face that led him to think that? Oh God, she thought. She had gotten Jacob in trouble. She was so STUPID! She cursed herself while Edward watched in subtle amusement. He had her on the run. He hadn't been sure that someone had told her what they were, but her pause confirmed his and Harry's theory. Someone had said something. But who could possibly know? Another vampire wouldn't give themselves up like that. He felt Rosalie's approving stare. For once, she was happy with him. Interrogating Bella to find out more information on what she knew was possibly the best thing to done since Albus had specifically asked everyone not to kill her. Rosalie had been angry, but valued her life too much to cross Albus. The man looked particularly stern when he gave the order. If anyone wanted to kill Bella and get away with it, it would be Harry because Albus would rather kill himself than harm Harry. And Harry wouldn't kill her either. It was a no-win situation. But it would give Rosalie satisfaction to be able to kill whoever told Bella what they were. "We're not going to hurt them, we just want to know that the person isn't going around a spreading our secrets," Edward lied through his teeth. He wasn't used to lying, but it seemed that Bella was willing enough to believe him. "Where's Harry?" She asked instead of answering him, and Edward rolled his eyes. His wayward boyfriend was late, being held after for

arguing with a teacher in history class. He shook his head fondly. "He's around," he said, though he expected Harry to stalk through the door any second. "Who told you?" Bella squared her shoulders, and sighed. "It's not his fault. He was just telling ghost stories…" "Ghost stories aren't vampire stories." She glared at him. "I meant… he was just trying to scare me. He didn't believe his own words as he was telling me!" "What exactly did he say, then?" Edward prodded, getting impatient. "He didn't… he called you… 'the cold ones. But he said that you weren't dangerous like others of your kind… not really dangerous, anyway." But the name struck a memory in Edward, and he had a good idea who had told Bella. She had been to La Push two weekends before. She must have run into one of the more adolescent Quileutes who wanted to give a scare to the non-locals. "The Quileutes, then." Edward concluded aloud, and heard Rosalie's teeth grinding from across the lunchroom. The Quileutes had a pact with the Cullens to not expose them as long as they kept to themselves and didn't kill anyone. Now Edward was glad they hadn't killed Bella. If Bella knew the Quileutes and they found out that she was murdered, the first people they would look for would be the Cullens, especially since Bella had been following them around. They had violated a treaty. Even if it wasn't intentional, the Cullens couldn't afford to have someone going around and hinting to what they were. "What's their name?" "I'm not telling," Bella said stubbornly. "He didn't do anything wrong!" "He told you what we were. He broke a treaty. What's his name?" Bella pursed her lips, indicating that she had no intention of telling. "We'll find out whether you tell us or not. I was just hoping that you would spare us having to go down there in person to find out," Edward threatened. "You're on thin ice as it is."

Bella frowned deeply. "What are you going to do to him?" "Shut him up," Edward said, rolling his eyes. When Bella's eyebrows shot into her hairline, he sighed. "Whatever's necessary to make sure he knows to not do it again." Edward didn't actually know how they would deal with the in discrepancy, but he didn't think it would amount to killing Jacob. He briefly entertained the thought of the Quileutes granting them a free-be and thus letting Rosalie kill Bella as penance. It was only fair, really. Edward smirked to himself, shaking his head. Bella sighed. "Can't I just tell Albus?" Her previous confidence in Albus when she first met him had wavered slightly when he almost let Harry kill her, but everything considered, she still trusted the old man the most out of all of them. Or even Alice. "Albus isn't the one with the pack with the Quileutes. You either tell me or you tell my father." Edward heard the graceful footsteps of his boyfriend down the hall, coming in the direction of the lunchroom. He smirked as he heard the angry thoughts running through his head. He had a few choice words for the teacher who thought he knew better than him. Harry had probably read more history books and seen more history than the teacher could ever hope to read. Perhaps Harry would have more luck squeezing the information out of Bella, as apparently, Bella was too afraid that Edward would kill her friend as soon as look at him. Harry entered through the door, and looked quizzically at the separated Cullens. He turned to Bella. "Oh now look. You've created a family feud. Hope you're proud of yourself." He took a seat next to Edward and threw a sarcastic smile at Rosalie. She crossed her arms and turned her head in response. "I didn't, did I?" Bella looked frantic. Harry shrugged, looking distastefully at her pizza. "Bella refused to tell who told her about us," Edward said as Harry placed his elbows on the table. "Hmmm…" Harry hummed in thought. "I was hoping this was an interrogation." He skewed his face into something decidedly

menacing as he growled out, "Tell us who he is or the dog dies…" He sounded like something out of a children's adventure film. Bella blinked, quirking an eyebrow and looking at him as if he were insane. "I don't have a dog…" Harry's face fell, and he shook his head. 'Is it too much to ask for her to have some kind of furry creature I can threaten?' Edward snorted, wondering what Harry was getting at. "I apologize. Alice will tell you, we were watching a movie about some animated dog in English this morning." Harry ran a hand through his hair. "Please don't let them hurt him, Harry. He didn't mean anything by telling me, he just wanted to give me a scare," Bella pleaded. "Who, the dog?" Harry asked, looking innocent. Bella looked at him wryly, and he smiled back. "Pfft! I've given up trying to scare you. I almost killed you and you relaxed and took it. No sense of selfpreservation at all, it's a miracle you've made it this far," Harry laughed, and Bella lowered her head. "Besides, it's not my call. I have no pact with this… mysterious person… so I don't see why I should have a say in whether he lives or dies." He heard Rosalie agree with him across the room. He rolled his eyes. "It looks like we'll have to pay a visit to La Push, then," Edward said thoughtfully, rubbing Harry's knuckles with his thumb. "I'll ask Carlisle about it after school." His voice was too low for Bella to hear, and she leaned forward curiously. "In La Push?" Harry asked, and Edward nodded. "I've been reading about a few deaths around the beaches… wild dogs, they say…" Bella nodded. "Charlie's been talking about it. They've killed three people so far. It was kind of scary because one of the men who died was found in a fishing boat where Charlie and Billy Black like to fish…" Harry peered at her. "Anything else?" Bella shrugged. "There wasn't much left of them… hardly any blood

either… oh…." She seemed to come to a realization as the vampires across from her narrowed their eyes. "No blood, you say?" Harry said, thoughtfully. "Have many rogue vampires, here in Forks?" He turned to Edward, who shook his head. "No, never. At least, none that we wouldn't know about. Alice would see something like that, but… Albus…" "Albus hasn't been blocking anyone but Gabrielle for the past two weeks." Harry looked over at Alice, who shook her head with a frown on her face. "Well then. Would it be a terrible inconvenience for me to join you to La Push? I feel like a run, anyway," Harry asked, and Edward smiled. "Of course not." Bella looked at them pensively. She had thought that perhaps they could all be friends, but they still treated her like she was a burden. She didn't like that they would be going to La Push to see Jacob, and thought for a second that she should accompany them. She didn't know much about the Quileutes, but she did know that if they didn't like someone, they wouldn't give them an inch. "Swan, you'll make yourself useful and introduce us to your friend this weekend." She looked up and saw Harry grinning evilly at her. Could he read her mind? She gulped and nodded. "No?" She said, uncertainly. Harry glared at her. "You're coming or I'll bite you. Not in a kinky way, neither. More of a 'you won't live past this moment' way." Bella thought about her options. She was pretty sure that when a vampire bit a human, that meant that they would change the person. She couldn't say that she was completely against the idea. Vampirism held a certain sense of adventure that she seemed to crave as of late. But she hardly thought she was ready at the moment. "Fine." She sighed, shaking her head as if disbelieving that she had agreed to the arrangement.

"Fabulous," Harry proclaimed, leaning back in his chair. Bella blinked. "Did you just say fabulous?" "Get your ears checked, Swan. I haven't the time to be constantly repeating myself." Bella smiled to herself. "Vampires have nothing but time." Harry frowned dully at her. "I have more than that, I assure you." There was definitely more room in Emmett's overly large jeep for the six of them. Emmett and Rosalie took the front seat, Jasper and Alice took the back, and Edward and Harry took the pit. Harry leaned his back against the seat and Edward laid his head in his lap as they cruised out of the student parking lot, headed for Harry's house once again. Harry ran his hand through Edward's hair as the other boy lounged in his lap, eyes closed and enjoying the breeze. He sighed contently. Despite the proceedings of the last few days with Bella, he felt very relaxed indeed. Dark rain clouds hung heavy over the landscape, but Harry didn't mind. The thunder in the distance only soothed his soul. He loved storms, as did Fleur. Hence the number of rain storms they had been having as of late. It was nearing the time for the Delacours to leave, and Harry was feeling a mix of lightheartedness as well as sadness. He would be very sad to see Fleur and William go. As cynical as he had been about any relationship between the two, as different as they were, they loved each other. Fleur had already said that they were looking forward to a second wedding in which Harry and Albus simply must attend in France the following year. The Cullens had a standing invitation as well. Harry didn't doubt that it would be a large affair, and thus confessed that they would likely have to make their visit brief. Fleur couldn't help but make a whole host of friends wherever she went, most of which she probably didn't even like, but thought it polite to associate with them anyway. Harry chuckled to himself, a hand trailing down to caress Edward's chest. The other boy brought his hand up to entwine with Harry's. Harry was beginning to think his time in Forks was all some wonderful

dream. Everything that he had thought he should avoid before seemed to be working out smashingly. As much foreboding as he had put into Gabrielle's presence, it hadn't been as bad as he thought. She was civil, had apologized, and was still none-the-wiser about Edward. His life seemed to be effortlessly working itself out. "Uh… Harry?" Emmett's unsure voice broke through Harry's little slice of heaven as they pulled up the gravel driveway. Harry turned to see what the problem was, and frowned when he saw Albus sitting on the front steps, his arms folded and starring into the woods before him as if he couldn't even hear the roar of the jeep's engine or the tires over the gravel. Edward sat up as soon as he heard Harry's thoughts. There was something wrong. Harry jumped out of the back of the jeep and was at Albus' side in moments. "Albus?" He touched Albus' shoulder, and the old man turned to him suddenly, a smile breaking across his previously pensive face. "Harry! How was school, my boy?" He asked, his eyes twinkling. Harry saw past it though. There was a lingering seriousness and concern behind Albus' eyes, and he was determined to make the old man speak. "What is it, Al?" He asked, stepping closer until they were only a breath away from each other. Albus sighed, and looked past Harry to the Cullens who were still in the car, watching warily. Edward stood in the pit, frowning at the pair. "Would it be too much trouble for you to come back a little later?" Albus asked apologetically. "Something of a very delicate nature has come to my attention, and I think it would be best to confer with Harry privately before we let the news go public." Harry licked his lips, trying to read Albus' eyes. Just as he had been reminiscing about how easy life was… He didn't want the Cullens to leave, but thought it was probably best.

After all, they would be back later. They still had to decide what had to be done about the Quileutes. Harry heard the door open and looked up as the jeep pulled out of the driveway. It was Craig, holding what looked to be a letter in his hand. Harry took in the serious looks on both Albus and Craig's face and decided that once again, whatever Craig was there for was bad news. "Craig, I'm really starting to not enjoy your visits. You always come bearing bad news." "It's not bad news, Harry," Albus said quietly, quirking an eyebrow. "In fact, I believe that you're going to be extremely happy about Craig's news." "And I think you'll agree that you would rather know about the Delacours arrival in advance instead of being unpleasantly surprised, don't you?" Craig smiled softly. Harry nodded, rolling his eyes. "Alright, what's this news I'm going to be happy about?" Craig fingered the letter before tossing it to Albus. Harry noted the pristine letter without an envelop, with a red wax seal on the front. The fact that whoever sent it to them knew them well enough to know Craig was disconcerting. Craig was in charge of keeping their whereabouts secret. Albus handed the letter to Harry, a secret yet subdued smile on his face. Harry took the letter, turning it over in his hands. His lips parted in surprise when he read his own name and Albus' in a very elegant script. He knew that handwriting… Now he knew why Craig was there. Anytime someone wanted to contact them, it had to be done through Craig. He was the only one who ever knew where they were as he handled their travel arrangements and such. He recognized the seal on the back, and he knew the handwriting on the front.

He unfolded the letter quickly, holding it before his eyes and choked a dry sob when he saw the signature at the bottom. "Read it aloud, if you would," Albus asked, and the old man walked away to start pacing the gravel of the driveways, his hands clasped behind his back. Harry felt shivers run up and down his arms as he read the letter to Albus and Craig, a slow smile spreading across his face. 'My dear Albus and Harry (I hope that you still go by this name), Harry half laughed and half cried. I feel I must pre-phrase this letter by telling you how ardently sorry I am for not contacting you sooner. We were always good friends and even in the face of great sorrow, it is no excuse to let such kinship as ours to go astray. I apologize for any hurt I may have caused you. It was unconsciously done. Having said that, I feel I must articulate the hurt that you have caused me by not contacting me since we last saw each other. I do not think that the horrible despair that we shared last we saw each other excuses either of us for not contacting the other. I understand that you may have been hurt that I did not choose to leave Italy with you, but knowing you as I do, I believe that you understood my need to come to terms with my life without my love. I know you understand, as I know that you cared and care for her as ardently as I did, and still do. It has been much too long since I have had the pleasure of speaking to you, and I am willing to forgive you if you are willing to forgive me. I have spent many years in desolate loneliness that has gone unacknowledged by my family. I had not known at the time that you left that it would be the last time I would see you for over half a millennium. I thought that by doing so you were expressing your displeasure with the situation and how I handled it. I assure you, I am more displeased with the way I handled it than you could ever be. I felt that I lost all meaning in my life without her, I still do. But perhaps I went about my grief in the wrong ways. I have never had to experience the loss of a loved one, and as such, I was not prepared

to lose the one that I thought would be with me for every second of my own forever. I had it all planned out, you see. We would travel the world together, seeing many sights that I have been deprived of since confining both myself and Didyme to Volterra. We should have been a blissful coven ourselves, never having to live a second without the company of the others. I have no more answers as to why she was taken from me than I did that day. I told myself that I would find out, that I would know why two rogue vampires could find their way into the castle and kill the one person that should have been untouchable. I think I felt her die before I saw the fire. I think I knew it before I saw you, Harry, running down the hall, and shouting in such anger and despair. I think I knew it before you, Albus, came to me with your eyes so full of sorrow and sympathy. I knew it then. I wasn't prepared. That formidable night I lost a part of myself. But I was foolish to think that I had lost all of myself. I had a family that I should have gone to for comfort. But I didn't. I shut everyone out. I shut that family out. You must know that by family, I mean you. It was over half a millennium before I realized that I didn't need to be alone. I didn't need to bask in the this wasteland of eternity alone. I needed you. I need the people that love me and loved Didyme as much as I did. It is because of this revelation that I have decided to leave Volterra. Soon, I hope. I haven't informed Aro or Caius yet, as I want to have your input first. I don't know where I will go, but I wanted to contact you in the hopes that I may join you, wherever you are. I do not think that any place would be home to me without you in it. There was a time you told me that I would always be welcome in your home, that if whenever I chose to leave my life with the Volturi, that I would always have a home with you. I hope that it still holds true, because I feel that I need you, my brothers, now more than I ever did. I don't know where you are, but I hope that this letter reaches you. I will entrust its contents to Craig in the hopes that it finds its way into

your hands. May our paths cross soon, my brothers and friends. With the utmost affection, Marcus Harry fell to his knees. For a moment, he thought he could feel wet tears welling up behind his eyes, but, like always, they didn't come. Instead, he took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, but he felt the shivers coming from his chest. He placed his hands on the gravel road, trying to anchor himself to something. He felt Albus' hand on his back, rubbing it slowly and deliberately. "Is it possible to feel so much happiness, Albus?" He asked, his voice cracking. "I believe it is, Harry," Albus said. Harry sat back and fell into his friend's arms, holding the other man tightly. "Marcus has finally settled down enough to reevaluate what is important in life. It appears that wasting his life away in loneliness for so long has taught him that one's love can be their life, but many different types of love can be just as potent." Craig smiled at the pair. Marcus had tracked him down at long last. Marcus gave him the letter over a week ago, but Craig had wondered about it. He had to read it to make sure that it wasn't a pleading for them to return to Volterra. He was well informed of Aro's treachery, and it was hard to keep such things from Marcus. It wasn't his job. He knew that Albus and Harry wouldn't appreciate a letter from Aro asking them to come back. In their eyes, Aro had betrayed their friendship, and killed someone that they loved for his own advancement. Anyone that would do such a thing was no friend of theirs. But when he read the letter, he read the part where Marcus said that he hadn't informed Aro. He had to get the letter to them. He made sure that no one save Marcus knew that he had been to Italy for the meeting. It was one of the talents that made him so valuable as a business associate to Albus and Harry. He was… 'slippery' like that.

Harry separated himself from Albus to look at Craig. "Craig, you saw him?" Craig nodded. "I did. Every time I do, I feel like I'm risking my life." He chuckled to himself. "How did he look?" Harry asked with a concerned expression filtering through the glee on his face. Craig shrugged. "He looked like himself, slightly withered but he looks better than the last I saw him. He looks… a little more hopeful? Couldn't speak yours or Albus' name without a smile on his face." Harry smiled himself. He turned to Albus. "Of course, we should write back right away. Of course he can live with us! It's what we always wanted!" "I think you'll agree that there are more things to consider than just our hopes and desires, my friend," Albus said, somberly. "You're ruining this for me, Albus," Harry groaned. "Stop bugging me with the ramifications, can I just have a second?" "I'm afraid I ruin more things for myself than I could ever ruin for you, Harry. Rest assured, I had much the same reaction as you did upon first reading the letter, did I not, Craig?" Albus asked the tall salt-andpepper-haired man. Craig nodded in agreement. "It's not often that you see a man such as Albus falling clean over into the lawn and smiling blissfully for a whole hour or so." "How would you like to be separated from a man you thought of as one of your closest friends and confidants, without daring to talk to him for fear of being accosted by letters from the very people you can't stand to even converse with?" Albus asked, sternly. Craig shrugged, smiling in earnest. "An hour? You didn't call me?" Harry asked, looking accusingly at Albus, but it did nothing to betray his triumphant feelings of happiness. "I didn't want you to lose yourself at school and come straight home,

Harry. You're absences are starting to accumulate." Harry laughed, holding the crisp letter in his hands as if it were one of the most precious things in the world. He sighed heavily. There were no words for his happiness at the turn of events, but he knew that Marcus' letter just made things more complicated. As much as he wished for Marcus to come and join them, there were ramifications for him leaving the Volturi. It was good that he hadn't told Aro about his plans to leave once again. The last time he had said something to him, Didyme had died. One thing was for sure. Even Marcus wouldn't overlook the coincidence if something disastrous were to happen again. Aro had bound himself in that regard. He could inflict Chelsea on Marcus if he wanted to, but Marcus was stronger now. He had to be, if he was planning to leave Volterra. He wasn't fooled into thinking that Aro was okay with him leaving. He knew that Aro wanted him to stay. He would need a strong constitution to make sure that Aro couldn't talk him out of it. He knew that. Unfortunately, there was a bigger problem that Harry had gotten himself into. Marcus coming to them would undoubtedly bring attention to them from the Volturi. That wouldn't have been such a problem before, but now…. They had a human that knew what they were. Harry cursed his bad judgment. He was royally stuck in the middle ground. Marcus might have a problem with a human girl in their midst, but he would ultimately trust Harry and Albus' judgment on the subject. But throwing the Delacours and the Cullens under the scrutiny of the Volturi… It hardly seemed fair to either of them. "You have formed a similar conclusion to mine, Harry," Albus said knowingly. Harry shook his head. The answer was so simple, but so mortifying at the same time. They could leave, and accommodate Marcus elsewhere, leaving the Cullens… and Bella behind.

Harry didn't have much problem with the latter… but the former… "I'm not leaving Edward," he whispered, closing his eyes tight. "Indeed, you are not," Albus said sternly. "I should break my own heart to see you in such despair." Harry and Albus were on the same wavelength about many things. But unfortunately, Harry had gotten too caught up in his love for Edward, he had forgone so many things that had been in place specifically for Albus and Harry's protection from the outside world. Harry felt a pang in his heart. He refused to make a choice between Edward and Marcus. He wouldn't. "Edward was no remiss in trusting you, no more than you were with him. Remember, providence gives us obstacles, so that we can learn to overcome them." "And the Volturi is an obstacle," Harry grumbled. "Have you ever noticed that the source of all our problems stem from the damned Volturi? We let them get out of hand, and now look! We said they wouldn't control our lives, but our actions are being governed by them as we speak!" "Perhaps we are, but then again you were always the exception to the rules, weren't you?" Harry smiled to himself. "I still am." "Precisely." There was a crack of thunder overhead, and Harry tucked the letter into the lining of his jacket. "For now, I believe we must bask in the joy that a dear friend has expressed his want and need to join us at last. We'll worry about the ramifications later, won't we?" Harry nodded. They certainly would. Harry didn't want to think about what they say in a reply to Marcus. Craig announced that he wasn't in any kind of hurry, and so he would stay with them for a day or two while they decided what they should do. It was time that was much appreciated for sure, because at that particular moment, Harry hadn't any idea of what to do.

Accepting Marcus' request was a given. But he didn't think that anything could be done unless they went to Volterra personally to get Marcus and take him with them. He didn't trust any other way, and wouldn't put it past Aro to try something to get Marcus to stay. It was the safest way to make sure that nothing went wrong. But the last time they had been in the castle, they had witnessed Didyme's murder. The thought of returning to that dreaded place almost made Harry shiver. The first thing Harry did after they had settled in the house was call Edward. He had a way of calming him down, but quickly deduced that with Gabrielle in the house, it wasn't the best place to talk. They decided to meet in the field, Edward's meadow. "Is every thing okay?" "Better than okay, I believe. At least for now…" Once again, Harry found himself soaked in the middle of the meadow where he had been so many times before. Providence, it seemed, had carved out a perfect terrain for them to bask in the ethereal gifts of the world. Edward was faster than he was. As Harry arrived, he found the other boy already waiting, his eyes lightening up when he saw him. Happiness flooded into Harry's system, enthralling him completely. Edward was here, Albus was there, Marcus was coming, and everything seemed right with the world. He seemed to have lost himself for a moment, but felt it when Edward moved closer. He always thought that when he found someone, over the millennia's he'd waited, that he would be the one to take control. But right now, as he felt the larger boy press his chest against his own, all he wanted was to lose control. He wanted to be his. Edward chuckled at the thoughts that went unchecked through Harry's mind, blowing softly against the smaller boy's throat. He tilted his head to get better access to the ear lobe, exhaling against it as they met cheek to cheek. Harry was eerily still as Edward's anxious hands came up to run down the skin of his arms, tweaking the hairs before coming back up to grip his biceps, pulling

him even closer. All he knew was that he wanted to touch everything, taste everything, feel everything. "I thought you wanted to talk?" Edward whispered, a hand moving to Harry's throat. "We will… right now I just want you." It was true. Harry wanted to pour every second of his own joy into Edward, because if he didn't he thought he might burst. Edward rubbed the skin as Harry brought his hands up to grip his own arms. He smiled, leaning forward to nip at him, leaning his cheek against Harry's silky black hair. He brought his hands down to explore the planes of Harry's lithe back, wanting to just tear off the fabric that separated him from the glorious soft skin. He had to touch it. He licked Harry's ear, drawing a covetous moan from the boy before dipping his hands to grasp the hem of his T-shirt, ripping it in half. Harry gasped slightly, before chuckling. "I liked that shirt…" "If I'd pulled it over your head, I would have had to separate from you." Edward breathed into Harry's ear, causing the boy to shudder ever so subtly. "That is something I'm not quite prepared to do at the moment…" "Just at the moment?" Harry whispered, arching slightly as Edward ran his large hands over and over the light muscles in his back, stroking them softly, ghosting his fingertips over him. "Never again." Harry smiled. He certainly hoped so. But he didn't want to spoil such a precious moment with his cynical thoughts. So he let go, tearing Edwards Armani button-up off his back and sinking his head into Edwards neck, nipping, licking, biting, kissing…. Edward gave a crooked grin when Harry pulled back, pushing Edward's soaked bronze hair away from his face to stare at the boy he loved. Edward took in the sight of Harry standing shirtless, the flashes of lightening illuminating his already glittering skin, droplets of water working its way through his hair, dripping onto his shoulders. The rain from his bangs traveled down his face, moistening his lips as they

parted in anticipation, staring at him through his hooded eyes. Edward watched as the droplets made their way down his lithe chest, around his hardening nipples, flowing down his flat stomach, into his bellybutton, and past to disappear into his jeans. Harry tilted his head back, licking his lips. Edward didn't need to see anymore, and he flew forward knocking the boy to the ground as the lightening cracked the sky behind them. Harry fell into the grass as the light flashed across his body. Edward stared at him, smiling breathlessly as he realized that Alice's vision from so long ago… was finally about to come true. The black-haired boy was sprawled on green wet grass, his back arching, eyes closed and lips parted in pleasure. Edward's hard body fell on top of him, grabbing his arms and trapping them above his head, starring into the sparkling green eyes full of excitement as their lips crushed together amid the thunder that rumbled through their bodies. The raindrops fell onto the taller boy's back as he pressed closer against the smaller one, pressing his hips intimately against the boy below him. The lightening struck through the heavens, alighting their bodies as the storm surged. Harry turned his head to the side, groaning as his body was thoroughly trapped beneath Edward's. Edward bit harshly into Harry's neck, and the boy hissed, before he brought his lips to Harry's ear. "Got you." Harry's lips curled around his teeth, turning his head to meet Edward's eyes. "So you do. What do you plan to do with me?" He teased, running his pink tongue along his teeth. Edward chuckled, and ground his hips into Harry's, their encased excitement brushing pleasurably beside each other. Edward groaned. How had he ever gone without this? Harry's touch was electric. Every faint touch of his finger tips set Edward's veins on fire, delicious tingles sparking through his body, every fiber of his being so sensitive and pleasured by Harry's mere presence. He groaned at the way Harry's body fit close to his, wriggling under his hands, undulating slightly against him that sent sparkles of pleasure to his groin. He reached his hands down to grasp the firm globes of

Harry's ass, pulling him even closer, if possible. Harry hissed as their erections brushed each other. Feeling the large hardness caressing his own, his clung to Edward's shoulders, trying to create more friction, wrapping one leg around Edward's waist. Edward grasped the back of his knee, pulling him up, and then delving his head down to Harry's chest, licking and nibbling the skin there, ghosting soft bursts of breath against Harry's dark and pebbling nipples. Harry almost let out a squeak as Edward bit onto one especially hard, teasing it with his teeth, before soothing the nub with the circling swipes of his tongue. Edward pulled at Harry's other leg, and Harry swiftly hooked his leg to lock with his other one around Edwards waist, and Edward proceeded to run his hands up and down Harry's waist and down to his hips, rubbing his thumbs over the soft palpable skin as his mouth worked over Harry's other nipple. Harry thrust is hips against Edward, the sensations in his body were clearly articulated in his brain, helping him feel each little pleasure at once, driving him nearly insane. He buried his hands in Edward's tousled bronze hair as he tilted his head back, arching his body in Edward's hands. He stared into the night, the moon licking his and Edward's bare skin, illuminating them in their field of lights. The ethereal feel of everything happening to him suddenly became clear. Edward was here, with him. He couldn't help the smug smile that forced its way to his lips. For the first time, someone wanted him. Edward wanted him, and no one else. This realization caused him to pull hard on Edward's hair, eliciting a lustful moan from him as he brought his head up to look at Harry. Harry stared into Edward's perfect face, as Edward stared into the beautiful green eyes that had haunted him since the day he saw them in the painting. Harry shook his head with the sheer disbelief as he yanked Edward's head up to him, kissing him hard on the mouth with a hunger that had been 7,000 years building. Edward wrapped his arms tightly around Harry's lithe waist as he was brutally kissed. He arched his back as Harry did until they were sure that not even a crevice of their chests was left unattached. Edward licked the top of Harry's mouth until Harry's own tongue engaged it, and they were licking each other swiping, dancing, playing, teasing each other until the pleasure became almost too

much for them to bear. For vampires, that was a lot. Edward's hand unlocked themselves from Harry's waist and swished one last time over Harry's red and used nipples before delving into the backs of his jeans, clenching the cheeks of his ass almost painfully before moving to the front to undo the button. It wouldn't do for them to return to the house with ripped pants. One hand wrapped around Harry's waist while the other tugged the pants off Harry's legs. Their excitement was nearing its peak as Edward gazed at Harry's fully naked body as he laid him down on the soft grass. It was bliss. Edward had his own pants off in less than a second before he was stretching across Harry, brushing their uncovered erections against each other. Harry's groan was swallowed as Edward covered his mouth with his own. And with that, they lost control. Harry grabbed at Edward's hair, pulling harshly at it as he ravaged his mouth. Edward scraped his nails across Harry's torso, digging into it as he growled into his mouth. He yanked Edwards head back as he circled his legs once again around Edwards waist, turning them over to Edward was flat on his back, Harry straddling his pelvis. Harry swayed over Edward's erection, and he growled in desperation. Harry smiled wickedly as he leaned forward to lick a trail across Edward's chest, giving his interested nipples harsh treatment as he bit and tugged. Edward howled. His smile was still in place as he licked the trail of hair that lead to his prize. He bypassed the fully erect cock as he licked his way in between Edward's legs, applying pressure to his inner thighs, and coming up to almost millimeters away from his balls. Edward started thrusting his hips up against Harry's face, begging him. "Oh.. oh please… Harry… God…" Harry blew across the twitching cock, staring up into Edward's face that was straining to see him. Edward almost came just from seeing Harry's smirking head resting between his legs, so close… Finally, Harry ran a finger up the bottom of the cock, watching in

satisfaction as it twitched again. He ghosted his fingers across it until he was sure Edward was nothing but a puddle beneath him. He swallowed the entire thing in one swoop, and Edward might have come undone if Harry hadn't gripped the base rather firmly. Edward hollered as Harry caressed his erection with his tongue, applying pressure with his lips, humming around the shaft. Edward's hands twined into Harry's hair, and Harry let go, allowing Edward to thoroughly fuck his mouth before he came rather harshly down Harry's throat. Harry spat the remnants to the side, but Edward saw the white cum dripping down his chin. He stared at the beautiful sight as Harry smiled lovingly at him as he climbed up his body again, wiping at his lips. But Edward had other ideas. In under a second, Edward had flipped them again, and engulfed Harry's straining erection in his own mouth, bobbing up and down with vigor. Harry shouted at the sudden heat that surrounded him, the tongue inside that mouth applying pressure to the underside. His hands grabbed at the grass around him in hopes of anchoring himself to something. Instead, he settled for Edward's hair, running his hands through it, pulling occasionally when Edward's teeth scraped him. He hissed, but oh it felt so good! Harry released into Edward's mouth as Edward swallowed him one last time down to the hilt, milking him completely before withdrawing and spitting it into his hand. He looked at Harry through hooded eyes as he massaged the cum in his hand before moving forward and spreading Harry's legs gently. Harry knew what was coming, and gritted his teeth in preparation. Edward massaged Harry's release onto his own member, slicking it up with one hand as he prodded Harry's opening with the other, circling it tenderly and watching the expressions on his lover's face. A few moments of preparation was all it took, and before Harry knew it, Edward had positioned himself and was moving slowly forward. Harry brought his knees up to hold Edward's body between them as he was breeched, leaning his head back and Edward kissed his neck gently until he was completely inside him. He felt his heart swell as the thought of Edward being closer to him

than any other person had ever been overwhelmed him. He could safely say that never in his several thousand years of life had he ever felt so… complete. 'You don't know how long I've waited for you…' Edward kissed him as he began to thrust, fitting every inch of their bodies together and not being able to take his eyes off his lover's face. He collected each of Harry's moans and expressions like sea shells as they appeared, losing himself in the feel of Harry around him, clenching him, holding him tightly within him. Perhaps there was a time for something long and drawn out, but Edward couldn't handle it. Apparently neither could Harry. Each time they were together always proved to be so overwhelming. Harry felt Edward begin to pick up the pace. Edward held him so tenderly and thrust into him so wildly. The contrast of emotions made him cry out in ecstasy as he felt the sensations welling inside with every brush of their stomachs against his aching erection. He saw Edward's clenching teeth holding in an array of different sounds, and he knew he was close. He threaded his hands into Edwards hair and pushed his hips down, meeting Edward with every movement. Edward grunted softly. "Harry?" Edward asked, holding the other boy's hips close. 'Yes?' "I love you." A flash of lightening echoed overhead, and Harry felt his lover come within him, watching Edward's face closely. The boy fought to keep his eyes open, staring down at Harry with so much awe and admiration that Harry could do little more than let himself go in the space between them, a soft cry escaping his lips. He nuzzled Edward as he collapsed on top of him, his face laying in the juncture of Harry's shoulder, still hugging him and still deep inside of him. "I love you," Harry whispered, pressing a kiss to Edward's temple. Edward gripped him harder, kissing the boy's chest with a smile. "Your hair's pink."

Fifteen: Been Around the World in the Pouring Rain :Recap: He nuzzled Edward as he collapsed on top of him, his face laying in the juncture of Harry's shoulder, still hugging him and still deep inside of him. "I love you," Harry whispered, pressing a kiss to Edward's temple. Edward gripped him harder, kissing the boy's chest with a smile. "Your hair's pink." "Keep it that way." "I look like cotton-candy." "That's not a bad thing." "Shut up. If Albus sees me like this, I'll never hear the end of it." Edward laughed, his head falling into Harry's lap. He and Harry had eventually separated and gotten dressed, and once again, Edward found himself lying in Harry's lap with his fingers running through his unruly bronze hair as he read what had gotten Harry so excited as the storm had rolled away and left them under heavy cloud cover. He had to admit, he wasn't expecting this, and a part of him was wondering about the ramifications of such a letter, but he supposed if Harry was happy, then it couldn't be that bad. Harry passed him the letter and Edward read through it quickly, his eyes widening as he did. "Have you written a reply yet?" He asked, moaning as Harry's fingers massaged him gently. 'Not yet. Craig will be here for a few days, so we've got some time to think it over. We're not quite sure how to go about it. It's a very delicate situation,' Harry thought, licking his lips. Edward frowned. "If Aro finds out…" 'He'll try to stop Marcus from leaving. Marcus knows that Aro doesn't

want him to leave, even though it's obvious that he's not happy. Aro could use Chelsea against him to make him feel bound to the Volturi, but he can override her well-enough if his constitution is strong.' "So you want to go yourself to make sure that nothing… undesirable…happens to your letter." 'Craig is gifted at slipping in and out of places without being noticed, but I wouldn't put it past Aro or one of his guards to tamper with the letter should something happen.' "Would Aro have Craig killed, then?" 'No. Craig is connected to us, and he would know that killing him would make us angry and see it as an unprovoked threat.' Edward nodded, rereading the letter quickly again. "When would you go, do you think?" It sounded like an extensive trip, flying to Italy and dodging the Volturi's last resorts. Either way, it would be longer than they had been apart since they'd been together. The week that Edward spent in Alaska was hard enough, and they hadn't even had a relationship yet. He could only imagine the irritability and helplessness he would feel with Harry so far away. 'I don't know. Marcus wants to come soon. Of course, for Marcus, soon could mean anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.' "Will both of you go then?" 'Of course. We never travel separately.' "How long do you think it will take?" Hopefully only as long as it would take to get a plane ticket back. Harry smiled down at him. 'Going to miss me?' "Not at all. Rosalie will be wondering how much time she'll have to off Isabella before you and Albus get back." Harry tugged on Edward's hair, but Edward only laughed. "That's okay. I like it rough." 'Oh, do you?' Edward smiled widely at the evil smirk Harry gave him. "Honestly," Harry chuckled thoughtfully, tugging on Edward's hair

more. 'I believe that it may take a little over a week. It'll take at least a week to convince Aro that losing Marcus won't be the end of the world.' "So Aro is willing to dispose of his friends to maintain his sovereignty? What will happen if he tries to stop you?" Edward asked, looking up at his lover in concern. Harry stared darkly over the meadow, and Edward could swear he saw foreboding and sadness under the anger. 'I'd like to think that he wouldn't attack his friends. He and Caius are kind of wary of both Albus and I. I almost killed both of them before they were turned. They have a fair bit of fear for me when I'm angry. And Albus is their maker. I'd like to think that that holds a bit of reverence. But then again, you'd think your own sister would hold some reverence as well…' "Do you think Aro would send the Volturi guard to stop you, then?" 'Aro knows they have no hope of stopping us.' "Are you strong enough to defeat all of them?" Harry frowned, stroking Edward's hair thoughtfully. 'They have a lot of gifted servants, but Albus can block all of their powers, making them helpless. As far as strength goes, I can incapacitate them long enough to get to Aro, Caius, and Marcus. That is another reason why Albus and I are always together. Separate, we are weaker and more destructible. Together, we're unstoppable.' Edward couldn't resist. "How would you incapacitate them?" Harry shook his head. 'Do you know what Aro's worst memory is?' He knew that Edward didn't know, but he felt the need to tell him. It may have surprised many, but despite what Aro had done, he had a heart; A blackened one, but a heart. 'The night he killed Didyme.' Harry sniffed slightly, and Edward pulled one of Harry's hands to his chest, squeezing it comfortingly. 'That night haunts him, breaks his heart over and over again.' Harry bit his lip in determination as his green eyes darkened considerably. 'If he decides to hold Marcus hostage, then I'll personally make sure he relives that night every second of the rest of his eternity.'

Edward watched Harry's angry eyes warily for a second before he realized what Harry had just told him. 'Memories?' "Damn, William!" Emmett cried as the spinning disk flew right at his neck. He countered it just in time and flung it back at the red-headed man who ducked as it flew past him and straight at Jasper. "Are you trying to cut my head off?" "I'm afraid you're not much of a vampire if you had your head cut off my a Frisbee, my friend," William laughed as Jasper threw the Frisbee at Alice. William had stretched the Frisbee to be more like a plastic disk to make it go faster. Alice took the Frisbee and hurled it at Albus. Albus was lounging in a pair of Edward's sunglasses, which Alice had scrounged for him and was playing with Harry's phone, which he'd managed to obtain once again. He caught the Frisbee with one hand and flung it again without looking up from his task of making Harry's ringtones as embarrassing as possible. Craig was lounging beside him and watching elatedly as the kids played. "I must say, Albus, for a pair that relishes being alone, you and Harry seem to have quite a family accumulating here." "Why thank you, Craig. I believe that everything has been coming up roses since we came here. I maintain that it has all been a blessing from Providence that we have been able to keep it moderately peaceful." "Peaceful?" Rosalie scoffed next to him. "It was peaceful, Albus. No offense, but since you arrived I feel like it's been one roller coaster after another." "You and I have very different ideas of what the term 'peaceful' means, my dear," Albus said gently. "Roller coasters can be peaceful." Rosalie sighed, flipping her hair behind her. "You would think so, Albus." Emmett, Jasper, and William proceeded to get into a war of the flying disk, which had all but disappeared with the quickness of their throws Emmett overthrew the Frisbee and had William racing into the woods to get it, but was saved the trouble when Edward emerged with the

Frisbee in one hand and Harry in the other, who was scowling at being handled in such a way. "Put me down, Edward! This is uncalled for!" "Can't I have at least a little fun? You're shorter than I am, therefore I think I have the right to pick you up and treat you like a duffle bag every once in a while." Albus joined Edward's brothers in laughing at Harry's predicament. The boy was being held sideways under Edward's arm. The taller boy held tight to Harry's waist as he tossed the Frisbee to his brothers before carting Harry forward towards the tiered deck. Harry looked like he might have been half-heartedly struggling, but if he really wanted to get away from Edward, he could. Albus delved into Harry's mind for what might have sparked this display of affection, but was only greeted with memories of… another kind. "Oh my." He made a show of fanning his face for Harry's benefit. As Edward sat Harry down on the stairs, Harry scowled at him for looking into his mind. "In my defense, you really shouldn't leave thoughts like those just lying around, Harry. Someone is bound to see them," Albus chuckled. "Now go take a shower. You smell like a wet dog." Harry nodded reluctantly, before catching sight of what was in Albus' hands. "Give me that!" He snatched his phone away from him and starting looking through the complicated mass of features. "What did you do this time?" "Nothing. I only just acquired it," Albus lied, and Harry could tell. "I'll deal with you later," Harry warned as he trudged into the house, leaving a little soggy Edward on the tier. "Rough night, Edward?" Emmett howled at his brother, hurling the Frisbee in his direction. Edward caught it without problems, but wasn't amused. 'Huh… I thought they were just friends… they certainly act like more…' Edward froze as the thoughts rolled across his mind. He glared at

Emmett to stop his teasing. His boisterous and over-eager brother seemed to have forgotten about a certain red-head that was still present and listening… and analyzing everything they said. 'Poor Gabby…' The red-head thought again, but the evidence of his thoughts didn't show on his face. He still sported a happy-go-lucky grin, but Edward could see the timid thoughtfulness that echoed behind his eyes. Shit. Gabrielle watched from just inside the door of the second floor balcony. She had been watching with a contemplative smile seeing William playing with the Cullen boys. She was a little curious why the youngest wasn't there, but had thought that perhaps Harry and Edward were good friends and spent a lot of time dallying together. It seemed that way. They seemed to share a bond. Gabrielle was happy that Harry had found people that he enjoyed spending time with, even if she was a little iffy about Edward. She didn't know why, but something about the Cullens irked her, and as much as she tried not to, she kept trying to find reasons to not like them. There had to be a reason, she had a feeling. She liked seeing William happy though. He didn't have many men to hang out with since it was just him, Fleur, and herself at the villa. They liked the quiet life, but William had grown up in a large family, and therefore really enjoyed having a lot of people around and never being bored. Being with Fleur had been a big change for him, but he never complained. He loved Fleur and accepted Gabrielle affectionately as a little sister. Gabrielle could tell he missed his brothers though. When William had first come to Les Hauteurs, he had spent a lot of time in Harry's library and listening for any information that would lead him to know where his brothers had gone off to. Fred and George Weasley were a fun-loving pair, and according to William, they always brought never-ending joy to their family. They were very good but very rebellious and loved getting into trouble. They had mourned for months after the death of family, but William had still hoped that they could retain their humanity through not killing humans. Fred and George had agreed at first, but Providence did not

have pity on them. Singers were common for both of them, and they found that they could not resist, and they grew bitter when William kept telling them that humans were off limits. As it turned out, William had more restraint than the twins, and so, the twins decided, rather reluctantly that William would either accept their lifestyle, or they would have to separate. William pleaded with them to reconsider. They were all they had left, afterall. The twins never told William goodbye, or even confirmed their decision to leave. They went hunting one night, leaving William alone, and they never came back. Losing his own flesh and blood to the terrible curse that was immortality nearly killed William, if he had been able to die. He searched for them relentlessly, but when the twins didn't want to be found, they wouldn't be. Coming to find Albus and Harry had been Fleur's idea. She thought that their antics could perhaps remind William of what it was like to have brothers. She had been pleasantly surprised to find not only Albus and Harry but also the Cullens there. She had been even more pleased to see how William had fallen in with the boys so quickly. There was a genuine happiness in his eyes that Fleur hardly ever saw. It was only present whenever he would speak of Fred and George and how things used to be when their family was still alive. Fleur didn't want to hurt Harry with Gabrielle's presence, so she was very adamant about Garbrielle not scaring Harry into insisting that they leave, especially when staying seemed to be in both William's and Fleur's best interest. There was a soft commotion outside, and Gabrielle turned to see what had happened. The thoughtful smile on her face turned sour as she saw the bronze-haired Cullen emerge from the woods. His presence wasn't what irked her though. It was what he was carrying rather playfully under his arm. She quirked a brow, skeptical about the way that Edward was looking at her former flame. It was a little too affectionate for her tastes. Harry heard Albus coming up the stairs after him. He took off his still soggy shirt and started the shower in the private bathroom. He heard his door open as he tossed the shirt into the hamper and

saw Albus' eyes widen as he took in the scratches on his friend's chest. "A little over-excited, perhaps?" "You of all people should know what happens when vampires get 'happy.'" Harry teased. He discarded the rest of his clothes as he stepped in the shower. Albus closed the door and hopped up on the counter in the bathroom facing the shower curtain. "I do fondly, my friend," Albus chuckled forlornly to himself. "This seems to be a new and exciting time for us, you know. I don't believe we've had this much excitement since we first found Marcus, Aro, and Caius. What happy days those were." Harry smiled slightly as he lathered up with soap, getting the dirt off his marble body. "The last thing I want to do is hurt you, Albus. I'm more than willing to tone it down if it hurts you." A bar of soap came sailing over the top of the shower curtain to hit Harry in the head. Harry winced slightly as it left a sticky trail in his hair. "Did you seriously just throw a bar of soap at me?" He whined playfully. "Your happiness will never hurt me, Harry. Don't you ever think otherwise," Albus scolded. "I've made my choice in love and it in no way should affect your choices either. My only regret right now is that you've had to tone it down to keep your secret from Gabrielle." Harry ran a hand through his wet hair that stood on end as he did so. "Are you thinking of trying to find him again?" "No, and I wish you would stop asking." "It's been over 6,000 years, Al! I'd at least want to know if he's still alive and well, there's no harm in that!" "That is one thing I shall forever love and hate about you, Harry," Albus said, shaking his head. "Even when there is nothing to be done, you still insist on trying to make everyone around you happy. Focus on your own happiness before you mess with everyone else's." Harry knew better than to push it. Albus was definitely speaking in his 'stop talking and change the subject voice,' so he was prepared to do

just that: Change the subject. "Have you thought about what we're going to tell Marcus?" "Yes, and I believe we are on the same wavelength in that we both think it would be best to fetch Marcus on our own instead of trusting that tampering with the letter to make Marcus think we don't want him is beneath Aro." "So we write nothing?" "No, we write that we're coming to visit without telling them why." Harry nodded as he washed the shampoo out of his hair. "To all of them, then?" "I think that would be best, don't you?" "I do. As angry as I still am at Aro… I must admit it would be nice to see everyone again." "I'm sure that Jane and Alec would adore seeing you again as well." Harry grumbled. "If you insist on bringing them up, I'll insist on bringing Gellert up." "He's corrupt, Harry." "We're all corrupt. You know what his worst memory was." Albus nodded. It was one of the only times that he was truly thankful for Harry's gift. If he didn't know that small bit of information, he probably would never have been able to forgive Gellert Grindelwald for all the pain he caused him. His heart still never failed to ache whenever he thought of the blond, violet-eyed man. "I do know that." "But either way, we'd better pen that letter soon. I'm very eager to see Marcus again." Albus was glad for the change of subject. Harry knew when to quit. "As am I. Speaking of letters, I don't suppose you're going to tell me the proceedings of last night, are you?" "What does my sex life have to do with letters?" "Nothing… unless you were thinking that I should include your status

in the letter? I'm sure the twins would be interested… perhaps even Felix! I'm afraid we may have to form some sort of a barricade around Edward though. Heaven knows Jane can cause some considerable damage to unsuspecting victims…." "Don't you dare put that in the letter!" Dear friends, It has been much too long since we have had the pleasure of seeing you. We realize that it was indeed our wish and our fault that so long has passed without any communication. We ask forgiveness, but hope that you understand that we needed time to grieve and come back to terms with our own existences together and are pleased to inform you that we are content and happy in our new living arrangements and have even had the pleasure of meeting new people along the way. You may be surprised by this letter, but we feel that it is high time that we contacted you and express our wish to visit as soon as possible. We realize that this is short notice, but we are riding on your open invitation that you extended to us so very long ago. We miss you greatly and think of you often and are looking forward to our next meeting, where, Providence willing, all will be explained and set right in a peaceful fashion. We remain your friends and allies, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore And Henri James Ryynan Potter "Honestly, Albus. Is it entirely necessary for you to put your full name on every letter? Why can't you just say Albus and Harry? They probably know who you're talking about." Emmett decided to put his two-cents in to the letter as Albus wrote at the kitchen table. They had once again stayed the night and Albus had waited for Harry to return from school to pen the letter. "There are not many things in life that I refuse to change, and my signature is one of them, my dear boy."

Rosalie smacked Emmett upside the head for making stupid remarks as Albus folded it neatly and sealed it in wax. He pressed a ring on his right hand into the wax to seal it. Emmett looked closely at the design. A phoenix. "Why a phoenix?" "Harry and I decided a long time ago that our life is similar to that of a phoenix. We grow and blossom in each new adventure, and as it winds down and dies, a new one is born from the ashes, where everything is new and exciting once more." "Well. Party's over, people. St. Marcus is coming to town." Emmett whined, collapsing on the couch, and throwing his arms around Rosalie, who was looking mildly annoyed but the affection shown in her eyes. "He's not that bad until you get to know him," Harry teased from the other couch. Fleur and William were seated with Albus at the table as well as Gabrielle. Harry noted with dissatisfaction that she seemed to be watching Edward a lot since the previous day. At first he was worried that perhaps she had grown too fond of him, but the look in her eyes wasn't fond or even slightly affectionate. It was… suspicious. Edward told him about Emmett's little slip the other day, but Harry wasn't all that worried. It could be misconstrued as a lot of things, and mostly could be attributed to the bond between very good friends. Something told him that perhaps Gabrielle had her own way of getting information, and he cursed giving her the room that overlooked the green where a lot of things were seen and heard without much of a thought process. He cleared his throat, and Gabrielle looked at him. He narrowed his eyes at her in question, but she shifted her eyes over to Albus again, as if she hadn't just been burning holes into Edward's forehead with her eyes. Harry looked at Edward, but the other boy was looking irritated as well and didn't notice Harry's eyes on him. He would talk to her later. At the moment, he and Edward were about to go to the hospital to grab Carlisle before making the excursion to La Push.

Bella Swan hadn't been very forthcoming at school that day. It was clear that she was worried for whomever told her, even telling them that she had flirted the information out of the unsuspecting boy. Harry had found that piece of information extremely amusing. "You flirted information out of some boy?" He had a hard time containing his laughter. She had looked very affronted at lunch, where she had taken to sitting with Edward and Harry once again, much to the dismay of most of her male friends. "He didn't look like he would tell me… and it seemed like it would work." "Oh, so he at least tried to keep the information from you, then." "Not exactly." She blushed again. Harry had given her another vial of potion for her to drink before lunch, so Edward was still able to keep his cool around her. "That poor boy. Forced to contend with your attempts at flirting. He obviously likes you, and he's got to be a bit more healthy for you than running around chasing vampires, don't you think?" Harry egged her on while Edward watched the exchange in amused interest. "You're not going to deter me, we've been over this." "Oh yes, we have. But let it be known that I will never stop trying to make you realize the evils of your choices, darling." Somewhere between the bantering and Bella's infuriating lack of information, they had decided that they would pick her up at her house after school with Carlisle. Harry would break off sooner or later to do his own scouting of the area for nomads or anything else that would explain the deaths in the area. He would be damned… again… if a rogue vampire came into Forks without him knowing about it first. That was one thing that Bella had been forthcoming about. Harry found her very helpful in that department since her father was one of the men dealing with that crisis. Thanks to Bella, he knew where he should start looking. He didn't know if he should prepare for a compromise or a showdown. "Do you see something?" He asked Alice as she walked them out to Edward's Volvo. Her eyes had gone slightly hazy, and Harry watched

her curiously. Edward scanned her mind, leaving Harry the only one who didn't know. "Just… more company," she said mysteriously. Harry had a feeling she got off on playing vague. "Of joy. The town is fixing to become Vamp-ville if we're not careful about the amount of guest we allow for long periods of time." "They're not like us though… they eat humans." "Well, that establishes a time limit then." "… and they're hostile." Harry raised a brow at her, and she nodded in confirmation. He didn't really like getting his hands dirty for the most part, but he figured that that day might be an exception. In fact, he was looking forward to a little physical therapy if the nomads decided that they wouldn't leave willingly. "How many?" "There appear to be three," Alice was squinting slightly as if straining to see it. "At least one female." Edward was frowning. "Are you sure you want to go alone? Perhaps it would be better if you came with us first and then we'll deal with the nomads." "Are you suggesting we leave Bella to flirt some more information out of the Indian boy? Or… knowing her, she'll find a way to follow us and get in a large amount of trouble." Harry was having a laugh at the thought of all the trouble Miss Swan could get into in La Push if left alone and bored for too long. "We can only hope," Rosalie's voice echoed from the porch. "Your affection for her warms my heart, Rose," Harry teased, patting his chest while looking at her earnestly. She huffed. "With any luck, she'll follow you and end up getting killed by the nomads. That's the best case scenario, if you want my opinion." "We don't, thank you, Rose," Alice said, hurt that they were bashing her future best friend. "You don't know her like I do."

"Does anyone really stand a chance?" Edward asked. Alice glowed for a second. "You just wait. She's going to be a great friend and sister to us one day." Harry's eyes almost popped out of his head. "Sister! What are you implying?" Alice smiled mysteriously. "Not what you think I am, but you're in the right neighborhood." Harry was about to probe further, but Edward cut him off. "She won't tell. She's already reciting the French national anthem in Hebrew. Better just wait until she's ready." Edward hauled Harry into the car before he could protest. "I don't appreciate being man-handled!" "You weren't complaining last night," Edward whispered in his ear before closing the door on him. Harry pursed his lips to avoid saying anything aloud since he was already on thin ice with Gabrielle. "This isn't over," He mouthed to Alice, doing an 'I'm watching you' gesture in Alice's direction. She blew a kiss at him as Edward pulled the car out of the driveway. When they were out of sight, Harry turned slowly to Edward with narrowed eyes, and Edward decided that he really didn't like that look. "I hope you weren't planning on getting laid tonight, my love." Oh yes. Edward definitely didn't like that look. Edward and Harry decided to wait at the hospital for Carlisle to finish up. Edward was currently talking to some of the nurses that apparently knew him through his father and they couldn't keep their hands off of either of them. Unfortunately, Edward knew then and therefore was obligated to be polite in that situation, but Harry wasn't bound by such acquaintances. So he took their hands off him and walked off amidst their cries of 'How rude!' and 'Edward, you're friend is very offensive…' Harry rolled his eyes as his boyfriend defended him to his fan club.

Harry took to strolling the halls of the hospital, hoping to find Carlisle's office and see how much longer it was going to take. He was anxious to find out more about the unwelcome visitors. He had never spent much time in hospitals before. It wasn't that he didn't think he could handle it, but he had never been around much death before. All of his friends tended to… live… and no die. Didyme was the first time he was ever really confronted with the thought of death. So it was hard being in a place where many deaths happened, and despite seeing Bella that one time before, he still found it unsettling. Even as he thought, he was walking past rooms, inside which could be another person that would not live to see the next day. He ran across rooms with elderly men and women sleeping peacefully with family members at their side. Harry frowned at the sad looks on their faces. Mortality and immortality; both a blessing and yet a curse. Finally he ran across a room that stopped him in his tracks. The door was wide open, and Harry cleaned against the door frame, and observed the sole occupant inside. It was a little boy with a messy mop of black hair, sitting alone on the white bed. The same color scheme seemed to echo through the room. Harry gulped. This seemed like a picture he'd seen before. Where was the boy's family? He seemed very small and pitiful on the bed, staring at his lap with his hair hanging in his face. Harry stayed very quiet and still, ceasing his own breathing so as not to disturb the young boy. Harry couldn't see his face, but he couldn't help but wish the boy would look at him. He just wanted to see that face… "Harry?" Harry turned and saw Carlisle looking at him in concern. Harry stepped away from the door, and couldn't help but notice that the boy was now looking straight at him… with bright green almond-shaped eyes. Harry starred at him for what seemed like hours as the young boy stared curiously back. The boy seemed just as shocked by Harry's presence as Harry was by his.

"Harry?" Carlisle placed a hand on Harry's shoulder, and Harry broke his gaze with the boy to turn to Carlisle again. "Yes?" Carlisle regarded him warily for a moment. "You've made a friend?" Harry shook his head, refusing to look at the boy again, though he wanted to. "No… just taking a self-guided tour, is all." Carlisle nodded, looking past him into the room where the boy was watching them. He smiled kindly at the boy. "My shift is up. Where's Edward?" "Flirting with the hired help." Carlisle's eyes widened. "That's not like him at all." Harry laughed. "They were onto me as well, but I'm not nearly as accommodating at he is. Don't worry, I'm not deterred. I already told him that he wasn't getting any tonight." Carlisle smiled at him. "You're perfect for him, Harry." Harry smiled at Carlisle, his eyes flickering toward the boy again. He blinked when he realized that the boy was smiling at him. It was a shy smile, but there was genuine happiness and laughter in his tired eyes. Harry found himself grinning back, without knowing why. The boy gave him a little wave, and Harry's grin widened, his bright teeth gleaming as he raised his hand back. "You have a way with children, Harry. I don't believe Liam has smiled at anyone since he arrived." "I wouldn't know. I'm never around children," Harry countered, and Carlisle smiled affectionately down at his, hopefully, future son-in-law. "Liam is his name?" "Yes. He's an orphan in for medical treatment. He's been sick for a while now, but we've yet to find out what's wrong with him." Harry nodded, sighing heavily. Such a sweet little boy… who looked

so much like him. Harry hated hospitals. "I feel like I should be twelve, and we're going on a date with parental supervision," Harry grumbled as he crawled into the back seat beside Edward in Carlisle's Mercedes. Carlisle smiled at him through the rear-view mirror. "Well, Harry. You and Albus are practically family now, so perhaps this is a parentsupervised date?" "Are you insinuating that we're in a threesome? Please don't let Isabella know that, she might die of happiness…. Hmmm… on the other hand…" Harry thumped Edward over the head, but the amused smile on his face made it better. They were picking Isabella on their way to Forks. Harry could only begin to imagine what it would look like to her father, but he decided not to entertain that thought because the smirk on Edward's face was growing steadily larger. Edward seemed a little more comfortable with her around, though he still didn't care for her much. Harry thought she was amusing enough, but didn't like the way she leered at Edward, even though she made it clear that she would never try anything. Harry supposed that not leering at Edward would be easier said than done anyway. He regarded his rather attractive counterpart fondly until Edward caught his thoughts and gave him that half smile that he adored. Before they knew it, they were in the driveway of Chief Swan's house. The cruiser was in the driveway, and Harry could smell a deep discussion coming as he opened the door and Edward gave him a quite 'good luck'. Harry made his way to the door, knocked once and promptly found himself at the wrong end of a rifle with Charlie Swan on the other side. Charlie's eyes widened before he dropped the rifle with a sheepish grin. "Oh, Harry! I'm sorry, kiddo. I thought… is there someone else with you?" He peered around Harry and Harry made a guess that Bella had thought that Edward would be the one going to the door.

Harry narrowed his eyes as a sheepish Bella rounded on her father and scolded him for scaring him. He scoffed at the thought that Charlie Swan might have scared him, but said nothing none the less. "Going out for the whole day, then?" "That's the plan…" Harry raised his eyebrows at Bella who was blushing horribly. "We're just doing down to La Push, dad… I'll be back before dark…" Bella said, "and you have Harry's number so you can call." "Hmmmm…" Charlie seemed to be sizing Harry up. "I'm trusting you to take care of my girl… a day is a long time to be out…" "I assure you, Chief Swan, no harm with come to Bella whilst I'm around." "And no funny business, right?" "Not even a nervous chuckle, sir." 'Would it help if I told him I was infertile, I wonder?' Harry thought it best to not even bring it up. Bella bid Charlie an awkward goodbye as she stepped over the threshold and onto the porch. Harry nodded once again at Charlie before turning and strutting off toward the car, leaving Bella to catch up. She did eventually as they neared the car. "I'm sorry, Harry. I thought Edward would get the door and Charlie freaked out," Bella explained. "Oh? And Charlie felt the need to point a rifle at an unsuspecting teenage boy just for the fun of it?" "He's a bit protective and he's never met Edward before." "In that case perhaps you should just tell him that we're both gay and incapable of procreating. Will that make him feel better?" Bella chocked on air for a moment with a heavily blush on her cheeks. Harry had to laugh, and Bella hit his shoulder for good measure. She was getting more touchy the more time they spent together, not in a bad way either. Just in a friendly playful way. Harry thought it odd that he was getting chummy with a human, but then

again, it was getting hard to rule any kind of weirdness out lately. Harry opened the door for her, and she fidgeted a little before getting in. Harry sighed at her in impatience. "In, or I stuff you in the trunk. You're small, I'm sure you'll fit." Bella flinched, and walked to the car like a child on the way to timeout. She shuffled into the backseat. Harry took a spot beside her. Edward had relocated to the front seat with Carlisle. Carlisle wasted no time in introducing himself kindly to her, and she took a liking to him immediately. "So let me get this straight. You don't like overfriendly humans, but you're perfectly okay with overfriendly vampires?" Harry summed up. Bella hit him again.

Sixteen: Souls in the Wind Must Learn how to Bend He watched the scene in horror. This was not what he wanted. This was not at all what he had thought it would be when he seen it in his head. Every thing he thought that he wanted had happened, but somehow… the only feeling he could muster in response was… Disgust. Humans bodies littered the ground amongst the remains of a select few vampires as well. Thousands of them, in fact. Corrupt souls, thieves, rapists, swindlers, and the like. All dead, their fearful eyes still wide with the echo of the last horrific vision. The one that Albus was starring right at. Such a beautiful man, Albus thought. He had been so beautiful, intelligent, charming, and endearing. The only man that Albus ever let himself fall completely in love with. And there he was. His clothes ripped and torn, blood smeared over his body and his black eyes starring heartlessly over the chaos in delight. His eyes were a fiery red and his previously perfect wavy

blond hair was matted with dried blood and dirt with his perfect lips currently kissing the throat of another human, whom lay limp in his arms, drained of everything they had before being tossed to the ground. Oh yes. The man was beautiful. Beautifully wretched. Much like Albus himself. For the Greater Good. Albus lounged outside on the foggy deck, watching as the haze hung low over the green. His eyes were narrowed slightly and the elegant wrinkles on his face were much more pronounced than usual. His silver brows were knitted together in concentration. His eyes flickered over the acres of land and contemplated the sway of the trees. A heavy sigh escaped his lips. There hadn't been much time in his long life for contemplating the past. Over the past few centuries, things seemed to have been in a constant forward motion that kept him on his toes. His and Harry's dormancy for the past 30 years had been slightly relaxing but he would be lying if he said that they were anything of what they had been designed for. Reevaluation of life and if it still meant anything. He had spent some time with Alice looking into his and Harry's own hazy futures, and he was mostly pleased with what he saw. He saw many years of happiness for Harry and Edward at present, and he saw himself and the rest of the Cullens moving with much more simpler times. But when he looked to find Marcus, things became more complicated and vague. Sometimes he saw things like Marcus sitting on his and Harry's couch, laughing jovially as if it were 500 years ago when Didyme sat right next to him. In others, though, he saw him standing in Volterra, watching over the light festival as he did most years, or wandering alone through a land of mist. The more Albus tried to see, the less the images pleased him, so he resorted to leaving it as it was. It was a great wish of his that Marcus would join him and Harry, and perhaps even the Cullens would be able to accept him for the things that he had done with the Volturi. Marcus was rather a hard man to get along with, unless of course, you happened to be Albus or Harry, or someone that he had known

for a while and trusted. In Marcus' line of business, trustworthy people were hard to come by. But as much as he had been looking into the future and feeling wonderful for Harry's newfound happiness, somehow he knew that this was going to change everything. "Albus?" Albus smiled as Craig came out onto the porch and took a seat beside him on the stairs. He was dressed impeccably in a white dress shirt with a grey pin-strip vest with matching slacks. His salt-andpepper hair was combed neatly back and looked every bit like the aristocratic businessman that he was. The effect was taken away slightly for the fact that he was sitting next to a man in purple pajamas with yellow stars on them and a ponytail once again in his beard. "It is a joy to have to you here, my old friend. I hope you know that," Albus said, grinning widely at him, and Craig smiled back. "You cannot smile that thoughtful frown from your face, my friend. Something is troubling you," Craig said knowingly, and Albus had to agree. Sometimes, he cursed his wrinkles. Before Craig's eyes, the age seemed to melt away from Albus' face. The wrinkles smoothed out and the silver hair got shorter and gradually darkened to a deep sleek reddish-brown, and hung in curly locks in his face. The man's hands from under the pajamas smoothed as well. Anyone looking at them would think they were the hands of a young 40-year-old. There was dark stubble on his face, and overall, it was a very handsome face. Craig looked back up to Albus' face and found a man that was still very much Albus Dumbledore, but almost fifty years younger. Craig's eyes widened in shock. "A-Albus! I… I haven't seen you like this since… well… ever!" The younger man chuckled slightly. "I know of only three people still living who have seen me like this, Craig, and you are one of the lucky few. Providence-willing, William, or Fleur, or any of our other guests decides to come out onto the porch soon."

Albus smiled to himself. His most-loved form was the form that he had when he was turned, but sometimes, it was comforting to know that his youthful days were not, in fact lost. Of course, it was a great deal more amusing to see Harry turning himself into an old man than it was for him to become what he had already been many years ago, but just the same. Refreshing. Craig nodded. "Last time I saw you like this… I…." He trailed off. Albus nodded. He remembered the last time he had made himself younger. Mostly though, it hadn't been for his own benefit as much as it had been for another's. "I don't suppose you've seen or heard from him?" Albus asked, and chided himself for caring in the first place. If Harry hadn't brought it up earlier, he probably would have hated himself for it, but the fact that his young friend had thought of it first made him feel a little better about it. "Gellert?" Craig knew who he was talking about, but asked anyway as if checking that he was hearing right. Albus had told him a long time ago that any news concerning his past lover was forbidden to his ears, and Craig never mentioned him again. That was over 6,000 years ago. "I haven't heard any news of him in ages. The last I heard, he had secluded himself in Germany." Albus nodded to himself, thinking. Craig couldn't really believe the resemblance between Albus and Harry sometimes. Although Albus had red-brown hair and their eyes were different colors, the general structure of their faces was similar. Their hands were the same, and they had the same thin face. Harry's nose was slightly longer and his features were sharper, and his hair was messy and straight. Albus had more manly angles to his face, and the stubble added to the mysterious effect, and his hair fell in elegant curls around his face. "In seclusion, you say?'" Albus asked, and Craig nodded. "How long as he been there?" "Centuries." "Alone?" "I believe so."

Albus sighed, rubbing his forehead. He hadn't expected that. When Albus and Harry met him, he was a extremely handsome and even more charming. He had no problems making friends wherever he went. People were drawn to him, and Albus had been as well. At first, Albus had thought that perhaps Gellert had put his sights on Harry for wanting to spend so much time with them, but later he realized that the man's affections rested with him. But while Albus and Gellert shared philosophies about everyone and everything, and even had the same general ideas about the superiority of vampires to humans, and even to other vampires and creatures, Gellert took it to more extremes than Albus was willing to entertain. Albus saw Gellert growing greedy with power. He had seen the man's thirst for it when he first met him, but was overcome with his attraction to admit it to himself. Harry wouldn't say anything to him either because, frankly, Harry was happy that he had found someone. Albus chuckled to himself. Harry and he were very similar in those ways. And then the massacre. "Gellert! Stop this!" Harry yelled, his eyes black with anger and fear. "Come now, Harry! This is what we wanted! Tell him, Albus!" Gellert cried in elation, his red eyes twinkling in excitement. "No one will dare cross us now!" Albus shook his head. Harry was looking at him desperately. Albus knew what he was thinking. He had to stop this. Gellert had gone too far. Harry wouldn't touch him, because doing so would only cause Albus despair. It had to be Albus. Albus quaked at the thought of having to kill the love of his life, the only one he had ever cared for in that way. His heard broke as he struck Gellert, the other man's eyes widening in disbelief. "Albus?" He asked in confusion, but Albus pinned him to the ground. The red eyes turned perfectly clear, and Albus felt his heart break at the pain in Gellert's eyes, the elation and playfulness gone from his face, replaced with hurt, confusion… and pain. "This is not what I wanted," Albus told him, his hands grasping the

torn fabric of his lover's tunic. "I wanted order and for our race not to be a bunch of animals killing for the fun of it. This is a massacre, Gellert." "I don't understand you, Albus! This is what we said we wanted! You told me this!" Gellert didn't seem to even register the fact that Albus' hands were moving to his throat. Or perhaps he didn't care. "You wanted order and superiority, you have it! No one will ever cross us again. The end justifies the means, my love." Gellert peered intensely into Albus' eyes, watching him as tenderly as if they were laying sideby-side in the afterglow of copulation. "We said this. It's for the greater good." Albus nodded to him, burying a hand in Gellert's blood-matted blond hair, savoring the feel of it. "I know. I was mistaken." He stroked Gellert's suddenly blank face, unable to read his eyes any longer. It hurt so bad, he could barely keep from shaking. Albus had nearly killed Gellert Grindelwald that night, but someone stopped him. An angel stopped him. "Stop Albus!" Harry's voice rang through the night. "Don't. You'll regret it." So Albus had torn his hands away from his lover's throat, where he had been poised to tear him apart. He was eternally thankful to Harry for it. Harry was right. Harry had incapacitated Gellert afterwards so that he could not follow them, and advised him not to make the same mistakes again. But Gellert didn't try to follow them. Harry never told Albus of his final conversation with Gellert, and Albus never asked. It pained him to think of the man at all. Albus had gone ahead, not able to look into the broken eyes of his lover again. Harry did it for him, even though Harry had seen Gellert as family as well. Harry drilled images of Gellert's worst memories into his mind in the hopes that he would be too enthralled to follow them, but it was not without getting a glimpse himself. Albus had to forgive him after that. He didn't have any other choice. "He asked about you frequently before he disappeared into Germany," Craig inserted, watching his friend carefully.

Albus looked at him, daring to be curious. "He never asked about where you were or ever expressed a wish to contact you… he just wanted to know." Albus nodded. "Then Harry made his point then." Despite being younger than Albus and Harry, Gellert was as strong as they were. They were nearly on equal footing as far as power went. Albus and Harry had their share of losses in their lives. It seemed as if the fruits of their labor never prospered, and they ended up giving more to hands that would never return what they were dealt. But Harry had never lost someone that meant as much to him as Gellert did to Albus. It was what set them apart really, and why Harry trusted Albus more in the romantic department than he did himself. Albus had loved and lost, and Harry hadn't even come close to it yet. "Why do you ask?" Craig's probing voice asked again, and Albus ran a hand through his dark brown locks as he shook his head. "No reason, my friend. Just contemplating the past." It only took about 30 minutes to get to La Push from Forks, and it was less to get to where they would drop Harry off. "Are you sure you're going to be okay?" Bella looked worried as she fretted over them dropping Harry off on the side of the road about 10 minutes from the beaches. "I mean… there could be more than one vampire out there… can you handle them by yourself?" Harry was trying very hard not to laugh. "You know what? You are absolutely right. How about you come as my backup. Together, I think we could take them!" Bella scowled at him, but frankly Harry was astounded that she was actually worried for him. It was very stupid but slightly endearing that she didn't want to kill him off so she could strengthen her non-existent chance with Edward. It was still laughable all the same. Edward and even Carlisle couldn't contain chuckles from the front seat. Harry opened the back door and climbed out, shutting it and turning

to the open window. "If I'm not back in 2 hours…" He made a show of thinking about it, "…just wait longer." Then he flashed to the other side of the car, saying good luck to Carlisle before pressing a heated kiss to Edward's lips that forced him back into his seat. Before Edward could respond, though, Harry was gone, disappearing into the wilderness. Edward watched him go. 'You're still not getting any this week' was Harry's departing thought. He frowned, crossing his arms in defiance. Someone had to remind him to never tease Harry in public if he ever wanted to touch Harry intimately again. "I'm looking forward to having him as a son-in-law, Edward," Carlisle laughed as he started the car again and took off down the road. Never in a million years did Carlisle ever think when he first saw Harry and Albus that he would end up in the same family with them, with the mysterious and dark youth enamored with his youngest son. It couldn't be predicted… well, perhaps by Alice. Edward turned to face his father and saw the thoughtful smile on his face. He had heard his thoughts and smiled affectionately at him. Carlisle had been worried for Edward's happiness for years. Bella watched the exchange thoughtfully after Harry left. She didn't want to spoil the moment that Carlisle and Edward seemed to be having, so she stayed silent, contemplating what was waiting for them when they reached the Black's house. Harry waited in the brush until the car sped out of sight, catching Carlisle's final words. Son-in-law. That's what they called people that married into their family, right? Harry never took marriage seriously. Anyone that had lived as long as Harry had wouldn't. Two people committing themselves to each other for forever? Harry snorted. No matter how old some people got, they were never too old to change, and they were certainly never too old to learn of the certain defects of their marriage partner. Harry heard it everyday in the conversations of the people around him, complaining about why their marriage didn't last, or it was only good until it was

permanent. Harry didn't have an issue with intimacy. He had an issue with permanent. In his seven thousand years of life, the only thing that was ever permanent was Albus. Marriage was such an archaic institution as well. Everything that it used to promise was gone, so really, what was the point? Harry felt that he could be just as happy with one person for eternity without it all signed and sealed. On the other hand, though, it was Edward. Harry certainly couldn't think even now about leaving him for any reason, which was rare for him. Normally with anyone he was thinking about an escape route. But he had come so far with Edward. As crazy as it seemed, Harry had never let anyone make love to him before, if that was indeed what people still called it. The thought of leaving Edward made his heart hurt and his knees threaten to buckle. 'Marriage.' He scoffed as he turned and began his race through the woods. Marriage with Edward? He couldn't say that he was completely against the idea. Edward had let him know in more ways than one that he wanted him for forever. It was a different kind of forever than he was used to, though. How was it, Harry thought, that in so many ways, Edward was so much more fearless than him? Edward listened as Bella directed Carlisle in the right direction. Carlisle's comment had brought something else to mind. Marriage? To Harry? Edward could hardly keep a smile off of his face. He hadn't even thought of asking Harry. Perhaps it was because it hadn't been very long. A little over a month, but even so, Rosalie and Emmett hadn't needed longer than that, nor Alice and Jasper. Typically, Carlisle had once told him, vampires have a much better sense of forever than humans did, and as such don't have as much problems with spending their life with someone for the duration. Forever is a long time to spend alone. For some reason though, Edward really couldn't see marrying Harry. Of course he wanted to be with him forever. Harry had told him much

the same thing. But marriage? Marriage seemed like something made for people who needed that kind of assurance. He couldn't picture calling Harry his… husband… Harry couldn't be contained in one word, and in so many ways, Harry seemed so far above the institution of marriage. He was 7,000 years old! Marriage wasn't even invented until many years later. It seemed silly to ask Harry for his hand in a ancient religious rite when he was more ancient than the ancients. But Harry was cynical sometimes when people asked questions he thought were stupid. Edward dared himself to think of what Harry's reaction would be if he asked him for his hand. Would he laugh at him? Tell him the whole concept of marriage was beneath him? No. No, he wouldn't. Harry and Edward teased each other relentlessly but they knew when things were serious and needed to be taken as such. Harry probably wouldn't outwardly reject him, either. In fact, the chances of him saying 'yes' were far better than him saying 'no'. But this was Harry. When Edward saw Harry, he knew that the boy was free in all aspects of the word. They had an understanding between them that, Harry had told him , he hadn't had with anyone other than Albus. Harry felt that he could yell at Edward about things and not have him be affronted, that instead he would take it to heart, and understand that if Harry didn't love him, he wouldn't have bothered trying to fix it at all. And Edward could be short with him about some of his decisions and Harry wouldn't get defensive, and accept that that was the way that Edward thought. Did Edward think that Harry would agree to marry him? Edward nodded to himself. Yes, Harry would say yes to him… with time. And for the duration of that time, Edward was happy and content to be the one Harry wanted forever, even if that forever hadn't started yet. "Here we are," Edward heard Isabella sigh behind him. He looked up that they were pulling into a gravel road. There was a fair-sized house with a garage off to the side where a broken down… Rabbit, it looked like… lay amongst a bunch of tools. Rosalie might appreciate the

workmanship of the person working on the car, if not the actual car. Carlisle parked before they got too close to the house. Carlisle had a wary look on his face, but Edward knew that as soon as he met with the current leader of the pack, then all nervousness would be gone and then it would be completely diplomacy and calm. Isabella made to get out of the car, but Carlisle told her to wait. She closed her door obediently, but all but pressed her face to the window to watch with worry… whether it was worry for Carlisle or the person who lived in the house, Edward wasn't sure. Carlisle didn't have to make it all the way out of the car when an old Indian man wheeled onto the porch, looking both defensive and intimidated at the same time. He had a rifle on his lap, and Bella gasped. She had never seen Billy Black look quite so severe. "Cullen." The man said gravely, clutching at the rifle to make sure that Carlisle knew it was there. It didn't make any difference really. Bullets wouldn't be able to pierce a vampire's skin anyway. Carlisle frowned for a moment as he opened the door and stepped away from the car. If anything, the bullets may have been threatening his car, and he wouldn't have that. "Ephraim Black?" He asked curiously. Surely he wasn't still alive…? "Billy Black. You are not welcome in these parts, Cullen. My grandfather and yourself made the agreement. Surely you haven't forgotten?" "I have not forgotten, good sir. But I believe that perhaps one of your younger ones has not been informed of this agreement. I have it on good account that someone has been spreading rumors about what we are." "I believe you are mistaken," Billy said, gripping his rifle closer and his black eyes narrowing. "Besides, it is you who has broken the treaty. Don't think that the elders haven't noticed the bloodless dead in the area. We know it was your kind." "It was not us, we have not broken out oath. We believe that there are outsiders in the area, and we have sent someone to look for them not an hour ago. We will deal with them, or perhaps you can. We

have no relation to them. I would like to be peaceful about this, Mr. Black," Carlisle said. "I don't think that any harm should come to whomever broke the treaty, but I think it would be prudent for you to check on this matter." Billy pursed his lips angrily. He looked over Carlisle's shoulder, trying to see through the windows, but the tint prevented him from seeing inside. "Who's with you?" "My son. Like I said, this doesn't have to be unpleasant. I just want to make sure that you are holding up your side of the bargain." Carlisle didn't see any reason to bring Isabella into the conversation just then, anyway. He felt her peering out the window closely, and could hear a one-sided conversation between her and Edward going on through the windows. She was very worried for someone in the vicinity, and Carlisle made a guess that it had to be someone in Black's family that had told. Most probably his son, if what Harry had told him about her flirting the information out of the boy was anything to go on. Billy contemplated him darkly for a moment before calling to someone in the house. Not a second later, a dark, tall youth emerged onto the porch and immediately came to his father's side. The boy was watching Carlisle critically and he didn't appreciate being scrutinized in such a way by someone that was a great deal younger than him. He was a patient man, but he still believed in a certain degree of respect. He heard a gasp from inside the car, and deduced that this was the culprit. The youth seemed like the type that could fall under the whims of a girl older than him and be fooled into thinking that she liked him. He was rather tall and lithely muscled, but his eyes were young. "Jacob," Billy addressed the boy. "This is Carlisle Cullen. He is here because he believes that the treaty was breached." Jacob's eyes widened incredulously. "Treaty? You mean that old wives' tale?" "Jacob!" Billy seemed like a kind man when he wasn't being confronted with people he didn't like. There were laugh lines on his

face and not many wrinkles between his eyes or on the sides of his mouth. Carlisle deduced that he was generally an easy-going man. But the way he scolded Jacob showed him to have a cautious temper on him as well. "It is not, as I've told you before, an old wives' tale. Have you been telling those legends to the visitors lately?" "One visitor, in particular, a young girl," Carlisle continued, gaining a sharp look from Billy, but frankly he didn't care. "You mean Bella?" Jacob asked, and Billy's eyes widened before looking at Carlisle. "Isabella Swan?" He asked, and Carlisle nodded. "Yes. She was rather vague on who exactly informed her of what we were, so we had to find out for ourselves. Do you know her?" "Did you threaten her?" Billy's eyes were wild with anger and worry. "One wrong does not deserve another, Cullen! She is an innocent girl, if you tortured her for information, I'll…" "Oh believe you me. She volunteered the information tolerably well. There wasn't much torturing to be had. No need for it." Carlisle and the rest of the party turned to see a black-haired boy flouncing out of the woods, his nice button-up shirt in tatters and covered in… blood. "Harry?" Carlisle approached the boy in concern, but the boy didn't look shaken at all. In fact, he looked mildly pleased with himself. "Harry!" Edward was out of the car, and Bella was fighting with the door that Edward had locked just after he got out, but they could hear her yelling for Harry as well. "What the—" Billy did not look happy, and in fact, before anyone could stop him had raised his rifle and fired a shot at Harry. Carlisle and Edward heard Bella's cry of horror as they heard the smack of the metal against Harry's skin, but Harry barely flinched. He bent down to pick something up off the ground, and held it between his fingers. It was the flattened bullet. "Fiend! You killed a human on our land!" Billy cried, and Harry rolled his eyes at him as Carlisle and Edward approached, taking in his

bloodied figure. "Will you relax? Honestly, old man, you'll give yourself a hernia, and I hear those are quite painful. But luckily, you've got a doctor here before you, so I suppose you'll live," Harry grated. "I didn't kill anyone. I did, however, have a run in with rather feisty coyote farther north. Put up quite a satisfying fight, though it wasn't good enough." "Whoa… You mean those legends are real? There are actually… cold ones?" Jacob's mouth opened and closed in shock. "Brilliant," Harry murmured, rolling his eyes. Jacob glared at him. "What did you do to Bella? I only told her because I thought it was a legend! There's no way she took it seriously!" "That is where you are wrong, my friend," Harry laughed. "I'm afraid you need to watch your mouth around dear Miss Swan. The smallest bit of information could be the final piece of the puzzle for that girl." "What did you do to her?" Jacob asked, coming very close to Harry. Edward growled at him, but Harry laid a hand on his arm and stroked it affectionately. "What do you think we did? Worst case scenario, I want to know," Harry said, watching Jacob closely with a mocking look on his face. Jacob glared at him. "What? Did you make her deaf or something?" "Oh, that's creative," Harry laughed. "I was expecting something like we tied her up in the dungeon or suffocated her in one of our coffins." "You didn't, did you?" Jacob looked frantic. Harry laid a cold hand on Jacob's shoulder, smiling sardonically at him. "Of course not. We're not heartless, contrary to popular belief." Billy looked defensive that a leech was touching his son, but Jacob merely looked wary. "So you just killed a coyote… with your bare hands?" "Man's gotta eat," Harry laughed. Edward was shaking his head in disbelief. Harry would be able to be

civil with people who hated his guts. "Now could you do me a favor, and stop telling everyone that I'm a vampire? It's making it difficult to make friends at school, you know? Unless of course, they're the gothic type and then they're following you around saying ridiculous things like 'turn me, bite me, kill me, drink my blood, have my half-immortal child.' It gets awkward, you know?" Jacob laughed, and Billy looked appalled. "Who is this boy?" Billy demanded, and Carlisle smiled affectionately at Harry. "This is a friend of our family who has come to live with us in Forks. This is Harry Potter. He is the one we sent to find the nomads that have been terrorizing the neighborhood." Billy looked doubtfully at Harry. "He looks young. How can you be sure that he was thorough? I don't like this one bit. This is a serious matter, Cullen, and you're treating it as if it's a child's game run amok!" Harry rolled his eyes. "Looks can be deceiving, gimpy, as I'm sure you're aware." "Did you find anything, Harry?' Carlisle asked, and Billy was denied the satisfaction of making a rebuttal. Harry nodded. "Hikers. Drained. No sign of the culprits though. I think Alice is right. There are three of them." "Three!" Billy cried, his eyes wide. "What have you brought to our reservation?" "There's nothing that suggests that they are going to stay long. I'm a fair tracker, but there was nothing else to find really. No scent to follow." "We're better at that aspect that you leeches are," Billy said with an air of superiority. "I'm sure you are, fluffy," Harry said. "Carlisle. I'm sure you are aware of what will happen if you continue

to let these nomads slide," Billy warned, and Carlisle nodded. "Great. The more people I know, the less popular I seem to become," Harry shook his head. "At least this one isn't blond. Another blond and I'm afraid I'll be permanently blind." Jacob chuckled to himself. "I can remedy that. Drown her. Glue a mirror to the bottom of a pool." Harry laughed. "Inspired! What about an immortal blonde?" "Can't help you there." "Damn it." Edward patted Harry's head sympathetically. "Jacob! Don't go making friends with those leeches!" Jacob just laughed. "I'm not dad. Can't imagine a conversation with a leech anyway. Doubt we have much in common." "And I can't say that I'd have much to talk about with a puppy either. Can you talk around your slobber?" Harry made a show of tilting his head to peer at Jacob's dark face closer. "That's amazing." "… a puppy?" "Whoops." "There. I won you a boyfriend. But are you thanking me? Nope." Bella was too busy blinking away her shock. "Jacob's a… a… a werewolf?" "Oh, I do feel sorry for that, but he was going to find out sooner or later. Honeslty, I thought the poor fellow would have figured it out by then. If the vampire story was real, then why wouldn't the wolf story be?" "Had anyone ever told you you talk too much, love?" Edward asked, and Harry scoffed. "Making up for lost time. I hardly ever get a word an inch-ways with Albus around."

"Jacob's a werewolf," Bella murmured again. "Not just yet. Sometime in the future," Harry countered. "I've known a fair share of werewolves in my day. Poor Remus." "You're friends with a werewolf?" Edward asked, looking surprised. That was one thing Harry hadn't told him. "The only reason we knew him was because he happened to be the mate of a friend of ours. Ironically, he has the same last name as Billy and Jacob… his name is Sirius Black. We hear from them from time to time." "Wait… a vampire and… a werewolf?" "Sirius has a talent that is like ours… but different… he can change himself to take on the appearance of a dog." Edward blinked. "Now that's ironic." Harry snorted. "Providence plans," he stated matter-of-factly. "Apparently. What about the smell, though?" "It's not potent enough to detract from the carnal attraction. Love knows no bounds." 'May I have your attention please. The owner of this phone is single, desperate and horny. They picked this ring so that everyone would know that they are single, desperate, and horny. They're also not wearing any underwear…' "ALBUS!" Harry yelled as he went through his torn pockets to get his phone. "You barmy old man, what if that had gone off in public?" Harry didn't get a response right away because his counterpart was currently too preoccupied with laughter to answer at the moment. "What does that make me? Your fuck buddy?" Edward accused with a sardonic smile, and Bella held a hand over her mouth to contain her giggles, while Carlisle's brows shot into his hairline. 'You must understand, Harry, that some of the time, your angry voice whenever I call you is the best entertainment I get all day.'

"I'll have you know that I'm taken, content, and very satisfied as far as sex is concerned, but I thank you for asking." 'I'm very happy to hear that. You know some relationships are ruined because of a bad sex life…' "The only person I'm worried about being sexually frustrated is you, Albus!" 'That was below the belt Harry.' "Well that's good news." 'How do you feel about baseball?' "Baseball?" Edward and Carlisle looked at each other with a smile. Harry could only guess that it was a family thing that they were proposing. 'Well, yes. Alice had informed me that there is a thunderstorm approaching and was wondering when you were headed back. For some reason she's having trouble seeing you. They were waiting for when we were all together to play. Apparently, they have put quite an interesting spin on it. I should like to give it a try, myself…' Harry tried picturing his friend playing baseball… or any sport for that matter. It definitely wasn't coming easy, but the thoughts did send Edward into fits of laughter in the front seat. "We're on our way back. You'll be pleased to know that I've scarred another unsuspecting youth for many years to come." 'How did you manage that?' "I showed up smothered in blood." 'That would do it…' "Coyote. And then Billy Black had the decency to shoot me and scare the piss out of Bella in the process." 'Dear Bella is still with you? Bring her by, will you? I've made muffins!' "Why did you make muffins?"

'Well it was so easy… just add water and mix and pop it in the oven. It seemed like a crime not to.' Harry laughed. "If you say so. Wait… is Gabrielle there?" 'Shopping.' "Good. Thunderstorms, baseball, and muffins. Sounds like a wonderful combination to me." He hung up the phone and noticed Bella eyeing him oddly. "Did you just say something about playing baseball in a thunderstorm?"

Seventeen: Beauty in the Breakdown "I'm not wearing that." "It's a classic!" "Over Albus' dead body." "In other words: Never." Albus chuckled, dressed head-to-toe in 1940s baseball attire. Alice had gone all out on Albus' uniform. He had the shirt tails un-tucked and they fell to mid-thigh over his moderately tight white sliding pants that clung to his skinny legs. They were tucked into high blue baseball socks and black cleats. He looked rather ridiculous, but there was rarely a time when Albus didn't look ridiculous. Then again, considering Albus' character, he probably enjoyed it. Bella wore the baseball shirt over her jeans and she was Alice were laughing giggling at Albus while Emmett and William tried to teach him the difference between baseball and Cricket. The rest of the Cullens were already dressed, but Harry seemed to be having problems with the ensemble. Rosalie walked down the stairs, came up beside Harry and scowled at him. "Stop being a priss and put on the uniform." Harry looked at her in horror. "Traitor! I thought you at least would

back me up on this." "Come now, Harry. In the spirit of good sportsmanship, I think you should indulge us for a few hours," Albus reasoned. Esme patted Harry on the shoulder. "My dear, we won't make you put on the uniform if you don't want to. It's just a little fun, not necessary though." Edward gave Harry the crooked smile that Harry had become extremely fond of. "We could do shirts and skins, if you prefer." "Oh yes, let's give Bella another reason to stumble over her words. That sounds like oodles of fun." Bella glared at him again, but Alice was giggling profusely. "I think the uniforms are nice. By the way, who's the sponser? The Blood Bank?" Bella asked, sarcastically, her gaze directed at Harry. "Oh! We thought of that, but they thought we were kidding and wouldn't return our phone calls," Alice said with a mocking smile on her face. Bella and Alice collapsed into laughter again. Harry rolled his eyes. "Glad you've adequately recovered from that choking fit after you impaled yourself on that dinner roll, Swan." And thus, a war of wits had begun. About halfway through the argument though, Edward decided that he'd had enough of Harry's protests and pressed a deep kiss to his lips. After everyone had a good laugh at Harry's expense when during the kiss, his hair had gone completely fuchsia, Edward forced the jersey over Harry's head, resulting in a scuffle on the floor. William watched Edward and Harry get into an argument and smiled to himself. He knew that Gabrielle harbored feelings for Harry, but it did seem like Harry was happy with Edward. William had seen the nervous look Edward gave him the other night and resolved to not tell Gabrielle and let her find out for herself. He cared for her as a sister, but knew that it probably wasn't his place to tell her to give up. Gabrielle was persistent, and Harry was very hard-headed from what he'd seen. It would be interesting, to say the least.

At first he had been a bit confused when Harry, Edward, and Carlisle showed up to the Cullen's house with a human. For a second, he was scared that they might actually eat her, but apparently… they were friends… sort of. Harry certainly liked making jabs at her, but she and Alice seemed to get along famously. It was obvious that Bella knew they were vampires, as no one seemed shy about flashing around the house or the like. And he thought Harry and Albus were a strange bunch... Harry's hair was significantly ruffled, and still bright purple, when the pretend scuffle ended. He had his foot in Edward's face, and Edward was half-atop his chest. Their faces were inches apart, and Harry was still glaring at the laughing expression on Edward's face. "All right, love birds! Stop fornicating on the living room floor! Not that the ladies won't appreciate it, but such fantasies should be left fantasies!" Emmett laughed as he picked Edward up and off Harry. Harry composed himself enough to change his hair back, but not before Albus had a chance to make a few jabs at his best friend. "Did you get enough to eat, my dear?" Albus asked Bella, and she nodded enthusiastically. "Thank you so much, Albus. The chicken, potatoes, corn... mushrooms, muffins... yeast rolls... and cheesecake were great." Truth be told, Bella could hardly cram all the food into her mouth, but Albus was watching her so hopefully that she found it really hard not to oblige him. She had overeaten horribly, but hid it rather well, she thought, smiling and trying to move without wincing or just plain falling over and to sleep. For someone who hadn't eaten in centuries, Albus sure knew how to put a delectable… party-sized meal together. "Can we go now?" Emmett whined. "William and I are about to throw down out there! The rest of you can just watch." "Someone's confident," William laughed, tossing a baseball in his hand challengingly. "Albus is one my team!" "If you get Albus, I get Harry."

"I call Alice! … Edward, where do you think you're going?" "I'm on William's team." "What makes you think that?" "Because Harry and Edward are a package deal. HA! Get it? Package deal!" "I'm in no mood for you're bad innuendos, Alice." "That's not fair! You're ruining my grand scheme! … If you get Edward, I get Jasper and Carlisle," Emmett yelled from the pitcher's mound. He was trying to ensure his win against William, but for the moment it was looking pretty even. "Then I get Rosalie," William smiled charmingly at the blonde, who had to admit that the redhead was rather dashing and smiled back. Emmett bristled at the exchange, but William winked at him teasingly. It was the beginning of a great friendship… or rivalry… Carlisle and Emmett had quickly drawn up the bases in Edward's little clearing in the woods. Bella watched wide-eyed at the space between the bases, but tried not to appear shocked. After all, she supposed, they were pretty fast. In a regular baseball diamond, they probably wouldn't have a lot of room for fun. And so, on Emmett's team, there was Alice, Jasper, Albus, and Carlisle, and on William's, it was Edward, Harry, and Rosalie. Carlisle and Albus would take turns in the field. Bella and Esme watched from the sidelines as Esme was the umpire and Bella couldn't play, mostly because she was too slow, and partly because she'd find some way to get hurt anyway. William occupied the batting box, Alice was on the assumed pitcher's mound, Emmett and was far out in the outfield close to the edge of the woods. Jasper took the infield, and Albus was behind William, catching. William swung the bat experimentally, watching Alice closely as she stood completely still for a second, and before Bella's eyes could grasp what had happened, her hand flicked out, and the ball hit Albus' palm.

"I say, you really should have seen that one, William. It was right in front of you!" Albus chided as he threw the ball back to Alice. William swung the bat again, smiling tightly at the old man. "Thanks for your concern, Albus, but I've got it," William said as he swung the bat harder than before, making it whistle through the air. His grip went harder, and his eyes narrowed. "Geez, Albus. Get off his back. This isn't the major leagues," Harry laughed from off to the side with Rosalie and Edward. Alice pitched again, and this time there was the slap of aluminum, and the ball sailed into the woods. William whisked to the bases quickly until Jasper stopped him at second, ball in hand. Edward took the bat next, bringing William home and making it to third before Emmett got the ball back to Jasper. Rosalie hit, but Emmett caught it in the air, signing her out. Harry took the bat and was home before Emmett returned with the ball. "Damn, Harry! You hit hard!" Emmett whined, before an evil grin spread across his face. "Is that how you get Edward to submit all the time? You look like you enjoy a good romp." The bat came sailing out of nowhere and smacked Emmett in the head before he could realize what had happened. "UNCALLED FOR! I DEMAND A PENALTY!" He cried. The bat hadn't really hurt him, but he had to get Edward back somehow. "Stop inquiring after my sex life, Emmett. We all know you're not getting any," Edward smiled. "Oh! Something we have in common!" "Break it up, you two!" Esme yelled, watching the brothers duke it out in the middle of the inning. "There's too much testosterone on this field," Rosalie shook her head. Harry only laughed. The inning continued with William's team getting two more runs and then Edward's ball died in the air. They were tied at six-six when William's team the field again. Bella soon realized why they could

only play during a thunder storm. Emmett hit the ball hard straight into William's hand, whom then flew to first base, colliding together in a powerful ring of thunder that rang in Bella's ears, similar to that of large boulders clashing together forcefully. Suddenly, Alice froze. The ball hit her square in the head, but she didn't move a muscle. William stopped breezing through the bases when he saw the horrified look on her face. "You alright, love?" He asked, stopping beside her. "Oh no," Edward adopted an anxious look on his face from beside Harry. Harry frowned at him in question. "The nomads…" He whispered. "The nomads…" Alice said, and William reeled back. "Well, you were looking for them anyway right? What's the big deal?" Emmett asked, swinging the bat experimentally. "I think they were hoping to find them when a human wasn't in our midst making a nuisance of herself, darling," Rosalie drawled, explaining it to him like he was an ignorant 3-year-old. Realization dawned on Emmett about the time that the rest of the family started to act. "How long?" "They're coming fast." Alice said, eyes flitting quickly over the woods. "They want to join the game," Edward said. "Baseball really is the American pastime," Albus frowned. "Even vampires want to play." Alice ran over to Bella, standing before her and taking her hand protectively. Esme, Jasper, and Emmett huddled around her, but at the same time not looking like they were trying to hide something. "If we stay downwind, perhaps they won't smell her. She's taken the potion, right Albus?" Carlisle asked, and Albus nodded. He and Carlisle walked to the front of the group, acting as diplomats for the newcomers. "Edward?"

Edward nodded and walked toward the wood, closer than the others so he could hear better upon their approach. William, Harry, and Rosalie were positioned in front of Alice, Bella, and the rest, providing a bunker between the two. "See why this was a bad idea?" Rosalie said to Harry, her arms crossed and her perfect lips curled in a rather unattractive sneer. "Now we're protecting her and putting ourselves in danger in the process." "You don't think you can take them then?" Harry drawled. "Don't worry, princess. I'll take your opponent if you can't handle it." Rosalie snarled at him. "That's not what I mean and you know it." "All right. I'm sorry. Are you happy? We're still in the same situation but at least you have your pride back." Rosalie sighed, shaking her head. William eyed them warily. He himself didn't see any reason to panic. It was ten against three already, but from what he had heard about Harry and Albus, there was nothing to contend with. But if there was a human involved… humans always complicated things. They were irrational when afraid and prone to do stupid things when they should just bunker down and stay safe. He could hear Isabella apologizing to Alice behind them, and Esme was soothing her. "Of course not, my dear. It's not your fault. No one could have seen this coming… Don't you worry. We'll keep you safe." Ever the mother. He didn't think she had stopped doting on Fleur or himself since they arrived. Edward held up a hand, and they heard the rustling in the forest of quick foot falls on the leaves. They were almost… And then they were there. The first Harry saw was a rather plain straw-haired vampire. He rushed into the clearing ahead of the rest, dressed in unremarkable traveling apparel: jeans and a jacket. Behind him, a fiery redhead emerged, long red curls falling down her back. She looked absolutely wild, but dressed similarly to the blond. The last was a dark vampire, undoubtedly the most beautiful of the group. His skin was smooth and

his face was fantastically structured. All of their eyes were a glowing red. The dark vampire came forward, nodded his head to Carlisle as they approached with a friendly smile on his face. "We thought we heard a game going on!" He had a faint French accent. Albus quirked an eyebrow but seemed pleased with the easy voice of the stranger. "I'm Laurent. These are Victoria and James." "I'm Carlisle. This is my family…" He went on to introduce everyone, including Harry, Albus, William, and Bella. Harry saw Bella's shock at being included in the introduction, but he realized that Carlisle was probably trying to not include so much information to people they didn't know. "Do you have room for a few more players?" Laurent asked, but Harry had stopped paying attention to the conversation of the friendly dark vampire. He was otherwise engaged in a staring contest with the blond vampire, James. There was something about him that irked Harry. It didn't help that Edward seemed to feel the same way, and was glaring James' way rather heatedly. Harry figured that Edward must have heard something in James' thoughts that made him tense slightly. His lover stood rigid facing James, who was still staring at Harry. He tilted his head slightly, as if challenging him mockingly. Harry rolled his eyes in reply, and the blond's eyes narrowed on him. Harry could practically hear Edward's teeth grinding from that many yards away, but Harry didn't need to be protected, whatever James was thinking. Edward knew that. "Why don't you come back to our home with us and we can talk comfortably?" Carlisle's voice broke in, and Harry turned his eyes to look at the man in question. "Emmett and Alice, you can accompany Edward and Bella to Jeep," he added. The notion to take Bella home quickly was embedded somewhere in that casual command. Then, Harry caught a scent on the wind. It was faint. Albus had diluted the scent of Bella's blood, but any normal vampire could smell it well enough. If Harry could smell it, there was no doubt that the other vampires could as well.

Harry's eyes narrowed as James' head suddenly snapped toward Bella, his eyes narrowing and the red flaring within them. He lurched forward in a crouch faster than Bella could let out a gasp at the hungry way he was looking at her. In an instant, Alice had crouched to the ground in defense of her friend, and Jasper followed suit, more interested in protecting Alice than Bella. Emmett glared darkly at the blond. The redhead, Victoria, looked between the two groups in alarm. Albus looked very displeased with the turn of events, a heavy frown on his face. Carlisle backed up slightly to come to the aid of his family. The only one that didn't seem to have moved was Edward, Harry, Rosalie, and William. William looked at a loss for what to do, and Rosalie bore a look similar to that of Albus. James feinted to the right, but Alice was ferocious. Harry couldn't even see Bella through the mass of defensive vampires that stood around her, but he could hear her heavy and fearful breathing. Bout time she was scared of something, or else Harry was starting to think that perhaps she really wasn't human. "You brought a snack?" Laurent asked, and Harry was surprised to actually hear shock in the man's voice instead of the tell-tale hunger. Harry could feel the power in James. He was young, relatively, so he would be strong. Harry was concerned for Alice and Esme, and he had to admit, he was slightly concerned for Bella as well, of course in his mind, she was getting what she asked for in demanding their attention. Course, he would never tell that to Rosalie. He couldn't say he felt threatened by the nomads, but Harry had never been in a situation where there was a human at risk. As such, he figured that he needed to use caution, but he hadn't really been provoked yet. Perhaps a brief snap at James would be sufficient, or he could incapacitate him, but the others would see it as a threat. He didn't know how the Cullens would fair against younger vampires as he'd never seen them fight. He had to admit though… Edward fighting would be something that Harry wouldn't mind seeing, if only for the thrill of seeing his lover let loose in such a way.

Edward turned to him and raised his eyebrows as if to ask, 'Seriously? Is this really the time for those kind of thoughts?' Harry shrugged. James made a snap rather close snap at Esme, and Harry got angry. Family or not, the Cullens were friends, and he was far from letting some nobody treat his friends that way. In seconds, Harry found himself standing only feet in front of James, crouched lower than the other, his eyes wide and black, his white teeth shining behind blood red lips. James was slightly taken aback before falling back into his previous stance. It was Edward's turn to growl. "She's with us!" Carlisle said firmly again to Laurent. Harry had lost track of all the verbal transactions being made between the two, but it was beginning to dawn on Harry that Laurent probably really didn't have any power over the blond. "But she's human," Laurent said, sounding more astounded than aggressive. Harry felt the calming of Jasper's power of them, and sighed in annoyance as he felt his feral demeanor begin to fade. James seemed to slowly come out of his crouch, and Harry reciprocated, clinking his teeth together restlessly. "It seems we have a lot to learn about each other…" Laurent said, apparently trying to sound calm and soothing. "But we'll take your invite, and not harm the girl. We'll not hunt on your range for now…" James looked angry at that declaration, and made eye contact with Laurent to express himself so. "We'll show you the way," Carlisle said, gesturing to the family to converge around Bella once again. Alice clung to Bella and Jasper stood protectively over both of them. Emmett backed up from the group slowly, watching James as he made to join the party around Bella, moving her slowly away from the nomads, who were still watching intently, but with no sign that they would do anything hostile… yet. Edward looked at Harry, but they both knew that it would be better for

him to stay with Bella for the moment. Edward could hear, Alice would be able to see, and Emmett would be able to protect them if James came after them, but they would need someone in the woods. William locked glances with Harry, and they nodded to each other. They would follow the cars in the woods and make sure that nothing… undesirable would happen. The rest disappeared into the forest, and Harry and William stayed to watch as Carlisle and Esme went to lead the nomads to their car. Harry watched James closely, and frankly wished that Edward was there to announce what his thoughts were so they could figure out if he was ultimately going to be a problem or not. Albus gave Harry a worried look, which Harry blew off playfully. He would be alright. It wasn't Harry that had something to worry about. Albus nodded, and went to the aid of Carlisle and Esme. Harry and William turned, and followed after Bella and the others. Once they were under the tree cover, Emmett took Bella and threw her over his shoulder and started to sprint through the forest after his siblings. Everyone's eyes were wary and alert as they scoured the forest for any sign of the blond in the trees. They made it to the car quickly, and Emmett hauled Bella inside and between himself and Jasper. Alice hopped into the front seat with Edward at the wheel. Edward spared a look at the spot of woods, hoping to see Harry before he was forced to speed Bella back to her house. "Go Edward!" Alice cried, and Edward stepped on the gas pedal, the wheels "What about Harry?" Bella cried, being held down by Emmett in the back seat. "Bella, dear, Harry's a big boy, he can take care of himself," Alice said soothingly. Edward felt like she was also talking to him. He watched the trees closely, hoping for a flash of his white skin or jersey, or even a spark of his green eyes that always seemed to glow even from yards away. Edward hit the highway quickly, the speedometer climbing to ninety

and up. "Where are you taking me?" Bella cried as Emmett held her under his hands, preventing her from moving at all. Alice looked at Edward, but Edward didn't have an answer. His mind wasn't where it should be, and he knew it. He should have been thinking about how to keep Bella alive, but all he could think about was Harry. "Damnit, Edward! Where are you taking me!" She cried again, and Edward shook his head in annoyance. "Turn around, you have to take me home!" "Oh, yeah, that's a good idea. What makes you think that a vampire that could probably desecrate an entire stone forest can't handle the perils of a wooden door?" Emmett laughed, but his eyes widened comically at Bella's death glare before laughing again. "Lucifer! What are you doing here? Where's Bella?" "We have to get you away from here, Bella. Those vampires will come after you, I've seen it!" Alice cried, looking at Bella in sympathy for her new friend. "No!" Bella struggled uselessly in Emmett's hands. "What about Charlie! He'll call the FBI! They'll come for you! You'll have to leave!" "Bella, please calm down…" Alice tried to soothe her. Jasper tried to calm her, but she felt it and tried to resist. "Edward?" Edward sighed heavily. This night didn't have the possibility of ending soon. "He's a tracker." Bella didn't know exactly what that meant, but she felt Jasper and Emmett stiffen on either side of her. "What does that mean?" "Nothing. We have to take her back, Alice. That vamp doesn't stand a chance against all of us." Emmett reasoned with his sister, who was looking particularly horrified. "He'll wait, Emmett!" Alice roared. "He'll kill Charlie too! How would you like that on your conscience!" "I can wait, too…" Emmett grumbled. "Can we please pick another option?" Alice whined. "One that doesn't

end with Bella getting killed?" "Thanks, Alice…" Bella sighed. She listened to the people fighting around her, feeling even more terrible by the second. She had done this, and worse, she had put the Cullens, Albus, and Harry in danger. She didn't even know where Harry was, but hopefully he was safe. She had seen the distracted way Edward kept glancing around the road for something. He might have been looking for James, but something told Bella that they had others in the forest following them as well. It was frightening how quickly everything had gone bad, and she was having trouble coming to grips with the fact that she might not even live through the night. It would kill Charlie… he would think it was his own fault. And her mother… her adorable hair-brained mother… A light went off in her head. She waited until she could she get a word in, but it looked like Edward and Alice had taken to glaring at each other in the meantime anyway. "Can I say something?" "No." Edward growled. She was hurt, but continued on anyway. "But I have an idea!" "Bella, this isn't the time…" Jasper said quietly, but Alice sighed and shushed him. "You'll take me back…" I continued even as Alice began to protest, "I tell my dad I want to go to Phoenix and I get a few things I'll need. We'll wait until the tracker is watching and then run. He'll probably come after us and leave Charlie alone, and Charlie won't call the FBI on you. Then we can go wherever you want." Nothing but the passing of the trees and the engine sounded in the Jeep for a moment before Emmett broke the silence. "Hey… that's not bad… didn't you say she was smart?" Emmett seemed to be wracking his brains for such a comment to have been made. Alice narrowed her eyes from a moment. "I don't see him attacking. I think this could work."

There was a loud rustling in the trees, and all four eyes snapped to the area passing by them for a moment before Edward sighed Harry's name in relief. Whether he was actually worried that it had been James or he was happy that Harry was close by was unclear. Bella seemed happier then too as she saw a flash of Harry's white jersey through the trees, running quickly beside them. William was on the other side, Edward's side, as he could see, the red hair was evident to his keen eyes. It would be harder when Victoria was in the mix. Edward knew that Victoria was James' mate, and there was another tribulation to contend with. "Okay…" Edward spoke, and the speed began to rise. "We're going to Bella's house. She's going to tell Charlie that she can't stand another moment in Forks. She's going to pack everything she can find quickly and then get in her truck. Bella, you have fifteen minutes to do all of this, okay?" The warning in Edward's voice made Bella nod quickly. Edward kept his eyes on Harry as much as he could, watching his mate sprint through the forest. He could just make out Harry's head swishing from side to side, trying to detect any interference. He knew Harry didn't need to be protected, but just as fiercely as Jasper felt protection for Alice, he felt toward Harry. If anything happened to him, he would never forgive Bella. It only took about fifteen minutes to get to the house. Alice called Harry as they got closer and told him of the plan, telling him to go ahead to their house where they would meet before taking Bella to the airport. Phoenix was probably the safest place for her, then. Bella was in and out in less than fifteen minutes with Edward throwing her stuff together as she broke Charlie's heart in telling him that she couldn't stand another moment in Forks. Edward felt bad for the man, but shook his head as he heard her coming up the steps. Edward hid in the passenger seat as she fake-stormed out of the house. He could see Charlie looking like he had just lost everything at the door, watching her as she pulled out of the driveway. Edward knew it wasn't the time for it, but he couldn't help himself. "You see why this is dangerous?" He didn't know whether he wanted

to sound as morbid as he did or not. "You meddle in things you shouldn't and it never turns out the way you planned. I don't know what you wanted from us, but it hardly seems worth it to hurt your own father like that." He didn't get an answer. He didn't have to really. He could smell the salt tears that fell down Bella's face as she drove, the gulping of her throat as she tried to hold them back. Edward thought of Harry at his house, and his family, and everything else that was so important to him. And then he thought of Bella, who had to make everything complicated. He was angry. He was angry at Bella for making his family unsafe. He was angry at Gabrielle for making him have to hide his relationship with Harry. He was angry at the nomads for not leaving them alone. And he was tired. The most logical thing he could think of… was to get rid of each of these disturbances. He liked William and Fleur, but Gabrielle had to go. The nomads had to go… Bella had to go. "I think that when this is all said and done, you should probably stay away from us," Edward said finally. There was a hitch in Bella's breathing, but Edward was far too angry to be thinking of hurting her feelings. Alice was going to kill him… "I think that it's selfish of you to put us through this for the sake of your curiosity. I know you and Alice are friends, but perhaps you should just keep that at school, and leave the rest of us alone." Bella sighed heavily, her hands gripping the steering wheel tight. She didn't want to look at Edward for the fear of seeing the old death glare that he used to give her in Biology class again. She knew he was serious, and she knew he was trying to protect his family. And she also knew that probably hated her for hurting her own in such a way, as there was little that Edward treasured more than family. And Harry. The loud engine roared in her mind. "I'm sorry…" She whispered, even though she knew it would do no good. She had never meant to hurt anyone. But in the short period of time that she had been allowed to get with them, it had been the most fun she had ever had. They had been better friends than she'd ever had, at least in Alice. Alice who always wanted to hang out and talk to her about everything and never gossiped or made her feel like she was burden. And even

though she knew that Harry didn't care for her as well as she did for him, she liked fighting with him. It was fun, and funny. Suddenly there were lights behind them, and Bella almost screamed as they started to tail her. And then a shadow jumped up and into the pit of the truck, and she really did scream. "Shh! It's Emmett! Alice took the Jeep," Edward sighed from the passenger seat. Emmett was standing in the pit and towering over the top of the truck imposingly, his eyes searching the forest for signs of the blond, all previous playfulness gone. Bella sighed. "I'll stay away from you at school," she said finally, and Edward nodded. "I do love you though…" Edward stiffened, but Bella quickly qualified. "I mean… I love your family. I would never want them to be harmed. I love Esme and Alice and Emmett. I even love Rosalie even though she hates me. And I really love Albus and Harry…." Bella bit her lip as the tears fell again. "You two are perfect together. I always thought so…" Edward had to smile slightly, though it was concealed in the darkness of the road. "Thank you," he said. It wasn't like this was the end anyway. They still had to get rid of the nomads, but perhaps things would settle down afterwards, and they could stop walking on eggshells. Gabrielle, Fleur, William's stay was up the next day anyway. Edward wished William could stay. He was beginning to think of him as a brother anyway. Before they knew it, they were pulling into the driveway of the Cullen's house. Bella parked her dingy old truck in the garage where it would be hidden. They climbed out, and stepped inside the house. There was arguing going on in the living room. Alice took Bella's arm after she parked the Jeep and took her farther indoors. Emmett came in right afterwards. Carlisle was standing with Albus and Esme with him. Laurent stood with them in their view from the front hall. "He's tracking us," Emmett declared as he shut the door. "He saw Bella at the house, and he followed us here." They rounded the corner, and the first thing that Bella saw was a sea

of blond. For a moment, she was lost in the beauty of the two women standing in the kitchen. They were more elegant than Rosalie, more unbelievably beautiful if that was even possible. The older one seemed to bear a confused look on her face, her hand's in William's. The other simply looked outraged. Bella backed up and soon found herself at Harry's side. She looked at him for a second, and he looked tense. Edward came to Harry's other side in a moment. Bella gasped as she found the apparent younger of the two women looking straight at her as if she were the bane of her personal existence. She grasped Harry's arm fearfully, but that only seemed to draw more wrath from the beautiful blonde. "Harry?" "Shhh…" He quieted her, looking balefully at the girl. "This is the reason for all this secrecy!" Gabrielle bellowed at him, stalking closer, nearly howling as Bella moved farther into Harry. Edward looked on, his hand concealed on the small of Harry's back. Harry was annoyed. Fleur on the other hand, merely looked confused. She looked at Harry probingly, but Harry waved a hand at her. This wasn't the time to be making explanations of that kind. "Wow, Harry," Gabrielle shook her head in disgust. "I thought that there might have been someone that you wanted by now… it's been centuries. But… you reject me not only for another human, but… this?" She gestured to Bella, and there came a howl of amusement from behind her, but she didn't seem to hear. "I suppose she has a wonderful personality, is that it?" Harry glared at her, not even being able to think around it well enough to speak. He chuckled darkly to himself for a moment, shaking his head. "My dear…" He laughed evilly at her, and she had the grace to look taken aback. "Be sure of yourself, before you go about making assumptions." And with that, he turned around quickly, shocking Edward with his movements, and in front of the whole room, grabbed Edward's neck and pulled him down for heart-stopping… yet brutal… kiss.

Gabrielle's jaw dropped, William was eyeing her in sympathy and Fleur… looked joyous.

Eighteen: For So Long, You Were Mine :Recap: "Wow, Harry," Gabrielle shook her head in disgust. "I thought that there might have been someone that you wanted by now… it's been centuries. But… you reject me not only for another human, but… this?" She gestured to Bella, and there came a howl of amusement from behind her, but she didn't seem to hear. "I suppose she has a wonderful personality, is that it?" Harry glared at her, not even being able to think around it well enough to speak. He chuckled darkly to himself for a moment, shaking his head. "My dear…" He laughed evilly at her, and she had the grace to look taken aback. "Be sure of yourself, before you go about making assumptions." And with that, he turned around quickly, shocking Edward with his movements, and in front of the whole room, grabbed Edward's neck and pulled him down for heart-stopping… yet brutal… kiss. Gabrielle's jaw dropped, William was eying her in sympathy and Fleur… looked joyous. Gabrielle smiled contently, leaned against a tree on the expansive property that was Les Hauteurs. The clear lake that rested in front of her sparkled in the moonlight. Her white gown clung to her beautifully and the moon made her dark eyes glow with deep happiness that she hoped that she would feel forever. There was a disturbance in the water and her smile widened as she saw a boy, no, a man emerge from the water, trudging gracefully up to the shore. His white chest stood out sharp and ethereal from the darkness around him and shimmering droplets sparkled like stars down his chest and into his black trousers that clung to lean legs. Then there was the shaggy black hair that hung sensuously in the

man's face, his glittering green eyes peering out from underneath while his dark lips spread into a smile as he caught sight of her. In second, he was at her side, pressing a soft kiss to her lips before flopping down with his head in her lap. She giggled softly as she felt the water in his hair start to seep through her dress. "Get off! You're wet!" She nudged him gently but he didn't move. "Hmmm… water is wet. Your deductions never cease to thrill me, Gabby," his sweet deep voice floated over her. Since he would not budge Gabrielle settled to squeezing the water from his hair, running her hands through the silky texture as his eyes closed contently. "Perhaps forever isn't so bad when you have someone to spend it with…" she murmured to him A smile spread across his face and his eyes opened to stare up at her. "If I could spend forever with you, then I'd say that forever wasn't bad at all." He kissed her again and Gabrielle's heart swelled. She knew she loved him then. Gabrielle swallowed thickly, watching the supposed love of her life kissing the bronze-haired vampire, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, he had brought a hand up to bury in Harry's perfect raven black hair, holding him tightly while he plundered his mouth as if he'd been thirsting for it for days. When they pulled apart she saw Edward glaring at her hatefully. He had seen the memory play through her head and it disgusted him that Gabrielle had been perfectly content to keep Harry under her thrall for the rest of their lives. The look of love that Harry had given her in that memory was merely the result of her power; it wasn't real at all. But it had been real to Gabrielle, and it made Edward hate her all the more. When Gabrielle saw the human backing up towards Harry, even twining her arm with his, Gabrielle had thought that she had finally figured it out. She and Harry had always been good friends before

the… incident… and she had hoped that it might go on that way. But Harry was distant, as was everyone in the house. Even Fleur, her own sister, seemed to be hiding things from her. She turned from the heart-breaking scene to catch the look of joy on Fleur's face, as well as the unsurprised look on William's. Her eyes narrowed on her older sister, the most precious person in her life. Fleur met her eyes and, to Gabrielle's immense surprise, gave her a stern look, warning her away from doing anything stupid. She really didn't want to reflect on just how unappealingly her mouth fell open in the realization that maybe, just maybe, they had both known and not told her. "Fleur… William?" She started, holding her breath like a human would when trying to hold in an explosion. "Did you know about this?" William adopted a guilty look, he was more gracious than Fleur in that matter, but Fleur eyed her in a fashion that was more similar to a scolding mother than an affectionate sister. "You'll not make me feel bad about supporting Harry in his relationship, Gabrielle. I have comforted you over your misdeeds for quite some time now, but if you should choose to cause more trouble for Harry then weshall leave immediately for I shall not tolerate it," Fleur barked, her face severe. "I confess that I knew he was with someone, but not whom. I have to say that I am very pleased with his choice." Gabrielle felt her lips begin to tremble with despair. It was one thing for all her hopes and dreams to have been seemingly crushed over the last few minutes, but then her own sister had turned on her. Fleur's eyes softened as she saw the conflict entering Gabrielle's eyes. "I love you, Gabrielle. I'm only thinking of what is best for you and the best thing is to move on. You are beautiful and intelligent, when you're not being domineering, and this is by no means the end of the world. I have spoiled you in some ways, I believe. You've always thought that if you couldn't have something, no one could." William was thoroughly confused by the conversation before him but he didn't want to cause any more controversy than there was already. But there was something that he had missed, perhaps something more about Gabrielle's relationship with Harry than a simple falling

out and breakup. Albus felt very sympathetic toward Gabrielle. He would always be wary of her because of her past, but he knew what it was like to have someone you love taken from him. Either way he understood that it wasn't the time to be bothering with such thoughts. The others seemed to realize the same when they heard rustling outside. The spell was broken for everyone but Gabrielle, who stood desolately off to the side as if frozen while the rest of the world started to move around her. "We can loiter. The tracker is watching," Alice said, looking at Bella in concern. Bella was still standing with Harry and Edward. Alice knew she felt safer around them. Laurent looked sympathetically at the group. "He won't stop either," his accent seemed more prominent with urgency. "I thought perhaps he wouldn't bother initially, but when your girl jumped in front of the human he saw it as a challenge. And I don't think he's especially fond of your boy either," he nodded to Harry. Edward's grip tightened on him, but Harry didn't look worried. Carlisle nodded. "Can we stop him?" Laurent shook his head mournfully. "I'm afraid not. He craves the hunt and nothing can stop him once he sets his eyes on his prey." "We'll stop him then. It won't be hard," Emmett said. "James is lethal. I've never seen anything like him in my three hundred years," Laurent said hopelessly. He looked at Bella as if he were silently bidding her goodbye. Alice snarled at him but Carlisle silenced her. "Then I believe you have a choice, don't you?" Albus said, looking at Laurent expectantly. Laurent's eyes swept across everyone's faces, once again with that last look on his own. His eyes stopped on Harry and his frown deepened. "You've challenged him, boy. He sees you as a challenge and thus he'll go after the girl in the hopes that you'll be provoked into fighting.

I hope you can handle him." His eyes widened as Harry's lips spread into a smirk. "Don't worry your delicate little head about me," Harry drawled, "If I were you, I'd be worried about your friend. Do us a favor and run away like the scared little man you are. If you've got nothing but assurances that we'll fail to offer then you're usefulness has run its course." His voice was cold and menacing, his green eyes dark and swirling. Laurent looked at him as if he had just seen the devil in his face. "Go in peace," Carlisle said. To Laurent, it sounded almost like the blond vampire was mocking him. He nodded stiffly and with a final look at the population of the room, he fled. "Spineless little git," Harry murmured to himself. "And now you know how hard it is for me to make new friends," Albus broke in, sufficiently lightening the mood as everyone couldn't help but grin. "Unbelievable," Gabrielle muttered hatefully toward Bella. "You worm your way into a coven of vampires, bring on trouble and expect us to protect you? You selfish little chit! Look what you've done!" "Gabrielle, this is hardly the time," William whispered to her. "What's done is done," Albus said sternly. "You can yell at us later, Gabrielle, and we will willingly take it, but right now we have to make sure that Miss Swan doesn't end up a large pile of gore, shall we?" Bella's eyes widened comically but Albus was far from joking. "Edward, where would say our feisty friend is currently?" "He's off. He's going to meet up with the female about three miles past the river," Edward said. Alice turned to Rosalie. "Rose, can you take Bella upstairs and change clothes? We need to stifle the scent at least a little." Rosalie glared at Alice. "Why would I do that? What is she to me?" Her and Gabrielle looked similar now that they stood side-by-side with their arms crossed and hateful expressions directed at Bella.

Esme took Bella and led her up the stairs instead. "What's the plan?" Carlisle asked, looking at his children. Alice steeled herself, peering at Edward. "You guys will lead him off and when he's a ways off Jasper and I will run her south." "What do you mean by 'you guys?'" Gabrielle hissed at her, and Alice glared at her. "I mean Edward, Emmett, Carlisle, and Harry," Alice snapped. Gabrielle looked at Harry expectantly. "Harry? Are you going along with this?" 'She just skips over the fact that when two people have a fight they go through a short period of not talking to each other, doesn't she?' Harry thought and Edward snorted. Whether he liked it or not, Harry felt a responsibility toward Bella. If had killed her, he would have been able to avoid such a feeling, but he would be lying if he thought that Bella was all bad. She was kind of like the friend that every one liked to nag on, but at the end of the day, provided much amusement. He had chosen to keep her alive, so it would be irresponsible to neglect her now. They were her 'friends', with the word very loosely defined. "I don't know," He replied mockingly. "What did I do when I saw you drowning in the lake at Les Hauteurs?" He eyes penetrated deep into her soul. Gabrielle knew Harry was comparing her to that awful, selfish human. She realized that there was no reasoning with him. He was bound under the spell of those Cullens who had no reverence for what they were. They were trying to live as humans did, even living amongst them, and refused to accept the fact that they weren't, in fact, human. She saw the bronze-haired boy, Edward, looking at her darkly. She didn't know why, but it seemed as thought he knew exactly what she was thinking. She could almost see it in his eyes. With her every thought against him, the darker his eyes became. She knew he hated her, but she hated him. He wasn't good enough for Harry. No one was, really. Edward did hear everything she thought and perhaps she was right. He wasn't good enough for Harry. Harry was timeless, powerful, witty,

and beautiful. If things were different, if he was more insecure, he might have accepted Gabrielle's thoughts. But he knew how Harry felt about him. Outsiders idolized him but Edward knew Harry's insecurities and flaws as well as he knew his own and he knew what Harry thought when he looked at him. Harry wasn't perfect, and he didn't want someone perfect either. But Gabrielle had no right to bring his family into her self-righteous ranting. His thoughts were taken away when Esme and Bella descended the stairs, their clothes switched. Carlisle handed Alice a small silver phone to contact them with. Albus fiddled with his phone before he tucked it in the large pocket of his robe-like jacket, smiling in comfort as an irate Harry leaned his head on his shoulder. Emmett carried a large backpack on his back and Jasper carried a small leather bag over his shoulder. "Here's the plan, then," Carlisle announced and the bustling room went quiet. "Esme and Rosalie will take Bella's truck as a decoy." Rosalie spared him a resentful look but he proceeded to ignore her. "Alice and Jasper will take the Mercedes with Bella. You'll need the dark tint when you reach the south. Edward, Emmett and I will take the Jeep. Harry, Albus and William will follow in Harry's car. That will give the illusion that we're protecting something." "He'll track you," Alice said, looking at Carlisle. "The woman will follow the truck. We'll have time to leave after that." Carlisle nodded. "Let's go," his voice was final and then everyone was in motion again. The men, save Jasper, left through the front door. Fleur gave William, Albus and Harry kisses on the cheek with an assurance that she would be waiting for them with Gabrielle at the house. Gabrielle pursed her lips as she walked up to William, kissing his cheek as well. She did the same with Albus and, tentatively, Harry. Harry allowed it but made no gesture in return. Harry gave an affectionate smile to Fleur, hugging her tightly.

"Thank you Fleur," he whispered to her, grateful for her support of him and Edward. Fleur patted his head with matronly smile. "Of course, darling. I would never disapprove of someone that makes you happy." She flattened his hair as she pulled away. "Come now, enough of this. You're wrinkling my dress." Harry laughed as they separated. "Be safe!" She called as they flew out of the house. Harry jumped into the driver's seat of his Bugatti with Albus on the passenger side and William in the back. Edward, Emmett and Carlisle were already in the Jeep and with a roar of their respective engines they disappeared into the night. Alice waited a few moments before signaling Rosalie and Esme to leave as well. Rosalie stalked out of the house without another look to Bella, but Esme gave her a comforting smile as they left. Then it was only Alice, Jasper, Bella, Fleur, and Gabrielle in the house, waiting for the right moment to leave. Gabrielle was still glaring at her sister, but Fleur was contemplating Bella with pursed lips. Bella noticed the beautiful woman staring at her and blushed darkly, trying to look anywhere but Fleur. "Fleur, could you stay for a while, just to make sure that none of the nomads come back here?" Alice handed her a phone with her number on it. She didn't even bother asking anything of Gabrielle. "Call us if they do. I don't see it happening, but it might." Fleur nodded graciously. "Please do be careful, will you? I'm rather fond of your family and would have quite a few hours of desolation if you should die." She looked perfectly serious about the time frame, but Alice saw the mirth hidden in her eyes. Alice giggled to herself and nodded. "We'll be safe. Don't worry. If someone isn't back by the day after tomorrow you can start mourning." Fleur smiled in amusement. "I shall keep that in mind." "Ready Isabella?" Jasper asked. Bella nodded, and Jasper took her

up in his arms before he and Alice disappeared through the door leaving Fleur and Gabrielle. "She's very troublesome for so small a person, but then again, humans often are," Fleur said seemingly to herself. It was blunt, but it didn't sound like she meant it condescendingly. Gabrielle shot her a scathing look. "I don't see how you can be okay with this. They've changed! They used to want nothing to do with humans or large numbers of people. Look at them! That family has changed them!" "Albus and Harry can do whatever they want, they've earned the right, Gabrielle," Fleur stated. "It doesn't matter what I think, or what anyone thinks. I don't think that the Cullens mean any harm. Albus and Harry do what they want and I've learned that if I want a relationship with them, then I should accept that. Harry is happy and Albus is happy. I insist that you leave it alone." Fleur swept from the room with a final stern glance. Gabrielle saw her ascend the stairs, presumably to keep a watch from the windows on the second floor. Or perhaps she simply just didn't want to talk anymore. Gabrielle trusted her sister, but she was also extremely stubborn. When she believed something, there was nothing to dissuade her from it. The Cullens were a danger. A danger to Harry and Albus. She didn't care if Harry didn't want her anymore but she refused to let this delusional family have him and Albus. She wouldn't allow it. She stewed silently in her head. She had to do something… "She's just a girl, Harry," Albus tried to reason with his irate friend. Harry was tailing Emmett since the Bugatti was decidedly faster than the Jeep. They were headed north at about 100 mph. They'd been driving for hours and were well into Canada, close to Vancouver. It had been hours of contemplation, silence and listening for sounds to indicate that James was still following them. There had been a few amusing conversations to make the time go faster, but one call from Fleur to make sure that everything was alright and the anger was resurrected.

"May the world find a cure for them. Girls like Gabrielle are like an affliction! Her name should come with an apology, for Merlin's sake," Harry ranted. The reason for their quest seemed to be lost on him. Albus couldn't help but laugh while William was silent in the backseat, befuddled as to what was going on around him. "I feel like I've missed something," he said. "What happened back there? I knew you had a breakup but I didn't think you hated her… she certainly doesn't hate you." William tried to reason with himself. "There's hardly a conversation that goes on without one of you in it!" "I'm sorry, William. It's very hard to explain…" "She forced me to fall in love with her, Albus found out, blocked her and we left." Harry's voice was monotonous as his hands gripped the wheel. Albus blinked. "Or perhaps it's very simple." "And she still thinks she has the right to control me!" Harry carried on, much to William's bewilderment. "Wait… she used her powers on you?" His question was met with silence. "I can't… Gabrielle? Gabby? She made you fall in love with her? That's the only reason you were together?" "I'm sure there's more to the story, but I don't feel like reciting it at present," Harry answered. "Basically, yes. She was angry that I didn't love her the way she did me, so she forced me. It took a while for Albus to realize it, but when he did, he blocked her…." "And you tortured her." Williams voice held no judgment, only clarification. "I can't believe she would do that. And why wouldn't Fleur tell me?" "I don't suppose they ever had a reason to, until now," Albus said as his phone began to ring. He picked it up and listened for a moment. Harry and William could hear Carlisle on the other line though. He was saying that Alice, Jasper and Bella were over halfway to Phoenix. "And Isabella Swan forced her way into your group?" William asked thoughtfully and Harry nodded.

"She found out what we were, thanks to some other supernatural friends of hers," he said. William shook his head. "Probably regretting it now." "Well… humans have a special knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them," Albus mused. "Do you suppose I can put the window down now? I do enjoy a nightly breeze." "We're going 110 mph, Albus. If you open the window, you'll be getting more than just a 'breeze'," Harry chuckled. Suddenly, Harry saw the break lights of the Jeep come on, and he pressed down on the break harshly, causing the Bugatti to skid to a stop. Harry saw Carlisle jump out of the passenger side of the Jeep and in a flash, the window on the Bugatti was down, and Carlisle was leaning in the window. "What's wrong?" Albus asked with a frown. Carlisle looked stressed. "Edward can't hear him anymore. He's stopped tracking us." "What does that mean?" William asked, leaning between Harry and Albus' seats. "I don't know. Perhaps he's gone back to Forks to meet up with the female, or maybe he's given up. Edward doesn't think that's likely though. It's more probable that he knows we're just a diversion. Esme called and said that when they got back the female had been snooping around Charlie's house." "Goodness, is he okay?" Albus asked in concern. Carlisle nodded. "He's fine. Esme and Rosalie are watching his house." "Fleur is still at your house watching as well," William said. "She called not two hours ago." Harry saw the back door of the Jeep open and Edward jumped out. He was at his side of the car in seconds and Harry rolled the window down.

"Hello, handsome. Need a ride?" He smiled and Edward chuckled. "I think we should turn around and get to an airport just in case they've got the hint that they've taken Bella south. Alice hasn't said anything negative, so I don't think there's a problem yet," Edward said and Harry nodded. "Alice and Jasper said they were planning on getting a hotel close to the airport in Phoenix." Harry nodded. "Is Miss Swan freaking out yet?" "She's asleep." Harry shook his head in exasperation. "It could be her last night on planet earth and she's sleeping. Why can't she be like normal people and go cliff diving or something?" "You really think it's her last night on earth?" Edward asked with a sardonic smile. "Well see how angry I am later. When I get angry I tend to bite things." Edward brought his cell phone into Harry's line of view and gestured for him to take it. "Bella wants to talk to you." Harry sighed and took it, pressing it to his ear. "Have a good nap, darling?" 'Are you guys okay?' Bella sounded relieved to hear his voice. "Oh, you've seen through my charade. The blond's got me locked in a medieval dungeon and I'm helpless and scared and he's preparing to kill me. Woe is me! Goodbye cruel world!" 'That's not funny!' "Albus thinks I'm funny," Harry pretended to whine, looking at the chuckling old man. There was a sigh. 'You always make me feel better…' Harry heard Bella's smile on the other end of the line and couldn't help but snort. The girl had an appreciation for humor. "The only one in danger of getting hurt tonight is you, darling. I don't mean to burst your bubble, but you're not invincible. Stay with Alice and Jasper,

okay? This is not a drill." 'Gotcha. Bubble's gone. Stay with Alice and Jasper. Panic. How am I doing?' "You're missing the desperation in your voice, but I suppose you'll do. And do me a favor while you're at it." 'Anything.' "Now that's inspiring. I know this is going to be hard for you in particular, but could you please try not to do anything stupid?" '… I'll try.' "If you can manage to suppress your masochistic natureI think you'll have it." 'Okay, Harry. I won't do anything stupid.' "Brilliant. Keep in mind that if you die there will be a good ten minutes where I'll just be inconsolable, if that influences your decisionmaking." 'That's more than I expected. Thanks for that.' Harry nodded, handing the phone back to Edward. Edward told Bella to put Alice back on and spoke quickly. They would turn around and go after James. If he was in Forks, Esme and Rosalie would know. But until they received word, they would retrace their steps and hope that he hadn't wandered far. Carlisle patted Albus' arm and then went back to the Jeep. Edward pressed a chaste kiss to Harry's lips before vanishing back into the Jeep himself. William looked at Harry in amusement. "I noticed that you never really say 'goodbye' in any of your phone calls. You bring the conversation to a close but then just stop talking. Why is that?" Harry and Albus looked at each other for a moment. Harry answered, "I'm not good with goodbyes." He put the car in drive, turned the wheel and stepped on the pedal.

The car skidded around, leaving a dark mark on the road as they quickly turned after the Jeep. It was a few more hours before they were back on the highway and nearing the border. Albus had been complaining about the waste of gas and he and Harry had promptly gotten into an argument about carbon emissions and carpooling, much to William's amusement. They stopped when the phone rang again. Albus picked up. "Carlisle, what are your thoughts on the amount of carbon emissions in the biosphere at present?" "The tracker was at Bella's house." Harry looked at Albus. "Okay, you were right. It was a waste of gas." "Alice saw him in a dance studio and then at Bella's mother's house. We're about an hour out of Seattle. Esme's procured flight tickets at will-call. Alice and Jasper will bring Bella to the airport in Phoenix and wait for us there as soon as board the plane." "How did he find her mother's house?" William asked, leaning forward in the back seat. "We think the female might have gotten some information from people in Forks. We can't be sure…" Albus nodded. "We'll follow you," and hung up again. "My my. Who knew keeping a human alive would be such a hard thing to do? One would think they'd all be extinct by now." With Victoria in Forks, and James in Phoenix, they would have to rethink the plan, and take Bella somewhere else entirely. Harry nodded grimly, and pressed his foot more firmly down on the pedal. The plane ride was short, or it would have been if everyone hadn't been eagerly awaiting their arrival in Phoenix. It was silent most of the way. Albus was perusing the Sky Mall magazine with wide-eyes ("You can put a trampoline in the water, Harry!"), Emmett looked like he was itching for a good fight, Carlisle stared blankly out the window and Edward and Harry sat in the midst of it all, hands clasped,

conversing silently. As soon as they were allowed to stand after they landed, they were the first off the plane. Carlisle turned his phone on again, and they zipped up the breezeway in hopes of seeing Alice, Jasper and Bella waiting for them on the other side. They found their way to baggage claim and were shocked to see only Alice and Jasper waiting for them. They knew something was wrong when they saw the frantic look on Alice's face. "She did something stupid," Harry stated. "Perhaps I should have insisted that she do something stupid and maybe she wouldn't have." "She went to the bathroom and now she's gone! And I can't see what she's going to do!" Alice cried, her eyes wide with fright for her friend. "She gave you the slip and has no idea what she's going to do next?" Emmett asked. "All right. Here's what we're going to do. Alice, where was the last place you saw the tracker?" "The ballet studio…" Alice moaned in despair. "Don't panic. Harry, Jasper, Emmett, Albus and I will try to find all the ballet studios in the area. Edward and William, you are the fastest. Get to Bella's house and make sure she's not there." They nodded. "She couldn't have gotten far," Carlisle laid a comforting hand on Alice's shoulder. "We'll find her." Whether she would be dead or alive when they found her was a completely different matter. Edward and William got to their destination first. They warily approached the house, but heard nothing inside. William ran around the outside as a precaution while Edward broke down the front door. Inside the house it was dark but there was a faint scent. Bella had definitely been there. Another scent mingled with her's though. The tracker had been there as well, but there was no telling whether or not it had been at the same time. He searched the house thoroughly but there was nothing to see. The

house was empty. If Bella had been there, she had already moved on. He met William outside. "Nothing. They were both there, but I don't know if it was at the same time. I didn't see any blood." William nodded. "Nothing outside either." Edward pursed his lips in annoyance. Was it too much to ask for the human to stay put? What could have possibly possessed her to leave Alice and Jasper? Perhaps she really was as masochistic as Harry suspected. They traveled along the street hoping to find a scent. William turned out to be a much better tracker than Edward. He had never really needed to, but years of tracking his brothers had made him better than most. "There's a scent here," William said suddenly. He stood very still, smelling the wind. Edward stood still as well, trying to catch whatever William was apparently getting. William walked slowly up the street from the house much slower than Edward would have liked, especially since time was of the essence. He turned the corner and stared down the blocks of streets, his eyes growing wider. "He's really close." Then Edward smelt it. A day of letting Albus' potion wear off and Bella's blood would be potent to his senses. He smelt it. She was bleeding. She was… right down the block. Edward bolted with William on his heels, his eyes wide with the blood lust he was furiously suppressing. At the end of the block, there it was: the ballet studio. Not even a block from Bella's house. The tracker's scent and the smell of Bella's blood came from inside the building. The blood was potent and flowing. William made a quick call to Carlisle as they ran for the doors to let him know they had found it. Edward broke through the doors to find Bella passed out on the

ground and James standing over her. Edward flew at him while William tended to Bella. Edward and James ended up in a scuffle on the ground but they were pretty evenly matched, as far as strength went. Every time Edward lashed out, James would meet it and every time James punched Edward, he would duck out the way. James caught Edward's arm as he made to push him off and trapped him against the cracked mirrors on the wall of the studio. Edward could see his reflection smiling evilly at him. "I wasn't expecting you, pretty boy," James hissed in his ear. "I was rather hoping to get a chance at that little arrogant black-haired one. He's your mate, isn't he?" He crushed Edward harder against the glass. Edward growled. William was preoccupied with getting Bella to stop bleeding. Frankly, Bella was the only reason Edward was holding back as much as he was. If he let himself go too much, he would kill James and probably not stop there. "I can tell from the way you looked at him. He certainly is a glorious little thing. A bit on the small side…" Edward bared his teeth at his comments on Harry. He had no right… "Think he'll come after me when I kill you? It won't be hard…" the wall behind the mirrors was beginning to crack under the weight of their bodies. "I hope he does. I'll teach that little boy some respect. And then I'll send him to join you in hell where you can be together, miserable, forever. How wonderful will that be…" Edward almost laughed at the blond's assumptions, the glass crackling against his cheek. "I was expecting more of a fight… surely you're not giving up already? Perhaps I won't get to the real fun until I get to your little love… AHHHHH!" Suddenly Edward saw James' reflection in the cracked mirror contort horrifically. James screamed in absolute terror, his eyes wide. His arms released and Edward threw him into the opposite wall. James didn't even protest. He writhed on the floor, clutching his head. He

pulled at his hair in agony, his eyes still staring wide and vacantly at the tall ceiling of the studio. Edward would have pitied him, but didn't have the care. He was too busy staring into the doorway of the studio where his family, Harry and Albus stood. Carlisle, Albus and Alice went to Bella's side. The rest went after James, who still lay shaking on the floor. Harry marched up to James, releasing him from his mind and glaring down at him with pitch black eyes. He picked him up by the throat holding him high in the air, but James was stricken and completely incapacitated, his eyes rolling in their sockets. Despite his short stature, Harry looked extremely imposing as he brought James' face very close to his own, staring deeply into his eyes. "Listen closely, blondie," he whispered menacingly. "It's really too bad that you're going to die tonight, because I would be more than happy to spend a great deal of time teaching you about what happens when you touch something that's mine," he hissed at him, sounding very much like a snake, before he broke the vampire's neck, letting him fall to the floor as he wriggled about uselessly. Emmett, Edward and Jasper took over tearing the tracker limb from limb as Harry stuck some floorboards together quickly, igniting them and creating a bonfire in the middle of the dance floor. They chucked the pieces in mercilessly. Edward surveyed Harry's frame with the shadows that the fire cast on him. He quickly tugged his lover into his arms, kissing him roughly and holding him close. He knew it was weird, but the suddenly burst of power on Harry's part seemed to have made him unbearably wanton for any part of Harry's skin he could touch. Harry grasped at Edward's shoulders tightly, pushing him away slightly and smiling widely. "Why Edward… is that a pencil in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" He chuckled. Edward just smiled and kissed him again. "Harry! Edward! Bella wants to see you!" Alice called, seeming to be

in much brighter spirits since Bella was alive. Harry sighed in exasperation as they made their way toward their fallen friend. She looked rather pitiful and pale, but conscious nonetheless on the ground with Carlisle tending to her wounds and her head in Alice's lap. Harry bent down beside and looked her dead in the eye. "Bella, you're irritating me." To his surprise, she began to giggle feebly. An hour or so later found the entire family at the hospital in Phoenix, lounging in the waiting room while the doctors patched Bella up. "She fell down two flights of stairs and through a window?" Harry scoffed. "I have to admit, I would think it completely possible, but try saying it with a straight face! I couldn't and now that doctor thinks I'm loony!" Edward laughed heartily, as did everyone else in the waiting room. Edward and Harry sat on the love seat, Edward's arm around Harry's shoulders. Alice was in the room with Bella and her mother while William and Jasper had gone to the airport to get tickets back to Forks in the morning. "And that's the only correct assumption we've made all day," Emmett laughed. Everyone seemed at ease since the tracker was dead. Rosalie had gotten to the female in Forks after she tried to break into Charlie's house and apparently Fleur had assisted in killing her off. It was a sort of bonding experience for them both, as they had heard from Esme. Bella had asked Alice to stay with her in the room since they had brought her to the hospital. She had asked for Harry a few times in order to make her laugh, but the nurse kept insisting that he was being rude, yelling at Bella and criticizing her in such a fashion If Harry hadn't been so charming to her afterward in apology, he might have gotten kicked out of the hospital. "I don't want to hear any griping from you, Albus, when I say that I feel I'm entitled to a few days off from school. I want a vacation!" Harry said sternly.

"From what? Life?" Albus countered. "If you consider everything that's happened in the last few days life then I have nothing to say to you," Harry laughed. "Did we ever find out why Bella ran off in the first place?" William and Jasper had returned, taking seats with them. "Five a.m., bright and early," William said, waving the tickets in his hand. "James used an old homemade video of Bella's mother speaking and then called Alice's phone, asking for Bella, making her think he had her mom. He blackmailed her into leaving without Alice and Jasper and she ended up at the dance studio. Pretty clever," Carlisle replied, appalled. "It was clever. Perhaps if he had spent less time monologue-ing, he would have killed her," Jasper sighed. "Gets 'em every time." Alice appeared in the room a few minutes later to announce that Bella was fine. Her leg was broken and she would need a cast, but other than that she could leave in a few days. Her mother would take care of her until she was well enough to get a flight back to Forks, back to Charlie. "Brace yourself, Harry. Bella told her father that you had a rather large fight, and that was the reason she stormed out the way she did. I expect Charlie will be looking for blood the next time he sees you." Harry slunk low in his chair, rolling his eyes. "It's a pity I haven't got any. I haven't eaten in days and this hospital isn't helping." Edward hadn't told Alice or Harry what he had asked of Bella before the whole mess had started. He hoped he wouldn't have to. Harry, he didn't think would mind, but Alice would be angry. He didn't even really know if Bella would keep up her end of the bargain, but he knew she was scared of him when he was angry. William slipped away to call Fleur and let her know when he would be back in the morning. He was gone for quite a while and Harry could hear his voice rising from the next room even though he was trying to be quiet. A few minutes later, William entered the room again, a sad and weary look on his face. At Harry's questioning gaze, he sighed heavily.

"Gabrielle's disappeared. Fleur can't find her anywhere. She's been gone the entire day, and she didn't take the car." At the same moment, a gasp escaped Alice's lips. Harry groaned. "I don't like the sound of that." Everyone's gaze drifted to Alice. "Oh Gods… The Volturi…"

Nineteen: It's Only Love. Harry rubbed his temples irritably. He didn't have a headache, but gave him something else to focus on besides the chaos that had erupted around him. Following Alice's announcement, everything seemed to happen at once. Immediately questions followed, asking what she meant when she had uttered the Volturi's name in complete horror, but Alice was far too wrapped up with trying to see exactly what was happening to answer. There was no doubt in Harry's mind that Gabrielle had something to do with it. The girl was always extremely stubborn and took matters into her own hands when something didn't go her way. But Harry seriously doubted that she would go to the Volturi to ask them to kill him. Not that they would have if she did ask, but there was something more. Gabrielle wasn't vengeful. She was selfish and subversive, but not vengeful. She was angry at Harry, but she would never dream of hurting him or Albus; at least not physically… But there were many ways to hurt them without even touching them. Harry looked around at the Cullens, the people that he had come to consider his family. Alice had her hands on her head trying to see more about the nature of what the Volturi wanted. Jasper was at her side, trying not to look at her or distract her while he sent waves of comfort to his family. Carlisle was standing, looking out the window of the waiting room with his hand over his mouth and his eyes were contemplating the dark lights of the city. Emmett looked restless, pacing with pursed lips and his boots making tracks in the carpet.

Edward's hand was still clasped on Harry's shoulder, but his eyes were on Alice, trying to see what she had seen. William looked stressed as well, but Harry didn't know if it was over the Volturi or the 'mysterious' disappearance of Gabrielle. Harry was concerned for Fleur because he knew that she was probably frantically looking for her sister and blaming herself for being so hard on her. Harry and Albus were still, contemplative. Albus' eyes had darkened considerably and Harry knew that too was searching with Alice's powers for what the Volturi was planning. Finally, Alice looked up, her eyes sad and frightened. "They're coming. All of them. Even the wives," Alice whispered, her hands grasping Jasper's tightly. "Why?" Emmett asked, looking tense and angry. He wanted nothing more than to be back at his home and be able to hold Rosalie close to him and protect her. At that, Alice turned to Harry. Harry knew before she told him. He was right and Alice was fearful of his reaction. "I saw Gabrielle going to them. She told them that we were a danger. That we let humans know what we are." "And they were all ready suspicious of us to begin with," Carlisle sighed heavily, as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. "Edward and Alice turned them down when they offered to let them join their guard. I turned them down…" That had to be it, Harry thought. Bella was just a cover. This was about power. He'd seen it before with many other powerful groups of vampires. They couldn't give the excuse that a coven had too much power. Aro remained predictable, but Harry had been reckless. He should have known. Aro kept tabs on covens with power, waiting for something he could hold against them and when it finally revealed itself, he destroyed them. He'd never imagined that he might end up in one of those groups, though. "What else did she tell them?" Harry asked, but he was looking at Albus this time. Albus sighed heavily in reply.

"She didn't even mention that we were here," Albus answered with a frown. "But Aro will know. Gabrielle doesn't know Aro's powers and with one touch Aro will know everything," Harry said and Albus nodded. "And it will only fuel them further," Albus said, looking from Harry to Carlisle. "I'm afraid what we feared would come to pass has happened. Gabrielle was angry and reckless and now you are all in danger. We know Aro well enough to know that the moment he knows we're here, he will think that you are starting some sort of an uprising with Harry and I as a catalyst." "But aren't you guys like… all-powerful? Can't you pull some fire and brimstone or something?" Emmett asked. He knew that he sounded ignorant, but there had to be something. He knew as well as anyone what it meant when the Volturi left their fortress in Volterra. They were dead. "Contrary to popular belief, we're not invincible. Besides, we're two people against the entire force of the Volturi. If we were only protecting ourselves, we'd be fine. But they're not after us, are they? When they come, they're won't be coming to kill us. They'll be coming to kill you." Harry hated that he sounded so uncaring, but his mind was working a hundred miles a minute on other things. One of those being how on earth they were going to get out of this alive. "How long do we have?" Harry asked again, reaching for Edward's hand. Edward pulled Harry to him tightly, burying his nose in his hair. "A month," Alice answered gravely. Harry nodded. It wasn't much time, but at least it was something. Albus and Harry exchanged a glance and Edward heard them. Albus stood and walked gracefully over to Carlisle, the tail of his long coat swishing over the carpet. He laid a hand on his shoulder, turning him to face him gently. Carlisle stared into those ageless blue eyes shining out of that antique face with sympathy and determination. Somehow, it no longer seemed like the world was falling down around him. Albus and Harry were legendary. They made the impossible happen. With Albus

standing right there before him, Carlisle felt some of the weight lift. He knew that Albus and Harry would share the weight with him and his family. They wouldn't let them do this alone. "You are not alone in this, my friend," Albus said. "Harry and I want you to know that no matter what happens from this moment on, you are not alone. You are family and while we don't have a lot of experience with that word, we will stand by you. Never doubt this for a moment." Carlisle looked from Albus to Harry. Edward had pressed the smaller boy against him, but Harry was looking at Carlisle. There was a gentle smile on his face that agreed with Albus. And Carlisle felt a grateful smile of his own blossom across his face. He raised his arm and clasped Albus' other shoulder tightly. "Thank you," he said, his voice breaking slightly. He wouldn't do them the injustice of doubting them. Albus nodded. "But unfortunately, we are not enough. Right now the Volturi outnumber us and if you take their powers into account, they make the nearly unconquerable force that's been thriving for almost 3,000 years. Harry is very much right in saying that it will be harder for us because we are not only protecting ourselves. We will have to work together, but we need reinforcements. As many as we can muster, in fact." Carlisle's lips thinned. "We have many friends, but that would be like asking them to die with us." "Not necessarily. We need just a large enough number to make them rethink the cost of such a war. The aim is that no one lifts a finger against the other. You have no one who cares enough to help you in your time of need?" Albus asked. "The Denali clan. They'd be more than willing," Edward whispered, wincing at the thought that they would have to drag their friends into this. But if Albus thought they could stop them before any lives were lost, then they had to. "Peter and Charlotte… perhaps Maria. My friends from when I was still working for Maria in her army," Jasper said, referring to his earlier life in which his sire, Maria, had turned him for his charm and

expertise in controlling the temperament of others. She had taken him to help build her army of newborn vampires and succeeded in taking over much of the feeding grounds in Texas before Jasper left, feeling discontent with his violent role in the whole thing. "The Amazons would be willing as well, I believe," Alice piped in, her voice firmer than her statement. Albus nodded, smiling. "Craig will be more than happy to spread the word to your friends. He is, after all, very gifted at knowing exactly where people are." Carlisle nodded. "All right." In the few hours that they spent on the flight back to Forks, Harry couldn't help but think of Marcus. He realized that his main priority should have been the Cullens and helping them to assemble a force big enough to make the Volturi think twice about killing them all. Edward sat next to him, but they were on two different wavelengths. Edward was working with Carlisle and the rest of his present family to think of all the people they knew they could call on and who would help them. Harry felt slightly guilty for thinking only of his own friend, but he wondered how Marcus was handling it. Craig hadn't left yet and it had been a good few days since they had the letter. Their own reply was still sitting in Craig's jacket, whenever Craig decided to take his leave. Gabrielle hadn't mentioned them. Marcus was still oblivious to their location. Harry couldn't decide whether that was a good idea or not. What he could count on was the fact that when Marcus saw them, he wouldn't condone the Volturi's decision to kill the Cullens. Especially when he felt the connection between Harry and Edward. Marcus was both a blessing and a curse at that moment. The Volturi were coming to kill the Cullens. Whether it was set in stone or not, Harry and Albus were part of them now. Marcus wanted to be with them and that meant that he indirectly wanted to be in the Olympic Coven, which consisted of the Cullens. Aro already wanted to kill them. If Marcus wanted to join them, it would only make things worse. Aro would be furious.

Harry didn't like having so many variables in one situation. Moreover, he was getting frustrated with himself for not killing Aro when he was supposed to. His second-guessing was starting to catch up to him. He should have killed Bella and they should have gotten out of Forks. But if he'd killed Gabrielle, he wouldn't have had to kill Bella. And if he'd killed Aro when he wanted to, there would be no mess to begin with. He never would have met Bella and perhaps Gabrielle would have died in the lake. But then, he reasoned, he might have never met Edward. He would still be in France. He wouldn't have left if it hadn't been for Gabrielle. And he would have never left Italy if it hadn't been for Aro. He turned to Edward, who was turned in his seat and talking quietly with Carlisle. He felt a hand on his own and turned to his other side where Albus was smiling at him. "What?" he asked. The tell-tale twinkling in Albus' eyes was positively annoying. The man always seemed to know something he didn't. "It's funny how the bad things in life always lead to something good, isn't it?" He chuckled. "Funny? More like infuriating," Harry corrected. "If I ever see Gabrielle again, it will be the last time." "Fleur will never forgive you if you kill her," Albus warned. "I'll never forgive myself if I don't kill her," Harry growled in return. He might be able to reason that killing Gabrielle before led to an equal amount of good and bad things. Edward was a very heavy factor in that reasoning. But if anything happened to Edward, his family or Albus because of the Volturi, Harry would hold Gabrielle ultimately responsible. "These things happen for a reason, Harry. My advice as of right now is to let her live. Nothing terrible has happened yet." "This is one of those times that I fervently wish I was human. There are thousands of years worth of mistakes that can catch up with me at any given moment. Gabrielle is one of them and that was over a thousand years ago."

Albus nodded, stroking Harry's hand softly. "Take it or leave it, my advice still stands. I won't fight you no matter what you decide to do. It matters not to me. But I'll have you know that I have come to very much enjoy Fleur and William's presence and would not be sorry to have them stay with us indefinitely." Harry turned to Albus, his eyes sparkling with anger and exasperation. "I agree with you about Fleur and William. But that can't happen if I kill her, you know this." "I made a promise to myself before they arrived that if Gabrielle did anything to hurt you this time around, that I would kill her myself. I stand by that. If when this ordeal is over and done with, and the Cullens remain unharmed, then let her live. However, if something happens to them, then I'll stand beside you in your decision to kill her." Harry regarded his old friend. It was touching to hear him say that, even if the context of his declaration was a bit morbid. He laid his head on Albus' shoulder, smiling softly. "Thank you, Albus." "I say that, of course, under the assumption that you get to her before I do." Harry chuckled. He felt better with Albus' input. "And what about Marcus?" "One thing at a time, Harry. Your problem is that you always seem to be thinking about everything at once. Slow down." Harry, Albus and William arrived home to find Fleur desolate, sitting stiff-backed on the couch, her hands settled primly in her lap and her eyes blank. William rushed to her side, pulling her close to him and whispering soothing words into her ear. Fleur wordlessly let her head fall to his shoulder, her eyes never leaving the spot on the wall. Harry took a seat in front of her, sitting cross-legged on the floor. He may have been completely furious with Gabrielle, but Fleur was worried sick for her sister. Harry didn't pass any judgments on the

bond between them. Heaven knew Albus had done many things that Harry didn't like or approve of, but he never loved him any less for it. "I'm sorry, Harry. We should never have come… I should have realized… It's my own fault, really…" Fleur whispered to him, but Harry only took her hand. "I could never be angry at you, Fleur. I don't regret seeing you again, or meeting William. You are not Gabrielle and not even Alice could have predicted what Gabrielle would do. I'm not angry. I'm only… regretful that Gabrielle took it upon herself to correct something that is none of her business." Fleur nodded, smiling brokenly at him and clenching his hand tightly. "I would like you to know that I have decided to stay and help in anyway that I can. If indeed the Volturi is coming to kill your friends, then I offer my assistance, though it may not be much." William nodded as well. "I'm afraid I'm much too fond of this family that you've made to be leaving you high and dry now. It's been so long since I've felt really part of a family." Harry nodded, grateful to the both of them. He sensed that perhaps Fleur might have another reason for staying. That reason being to protect Gabrielle from him if she ever decided to show her face again. They had a month. Gabrielle had not arrived in Italy yet, but according to Alice, that part of the future had already been decided. Unless Gabrielle had a miraculous change of heart, they were shortly going to be facing the Volturi. Harry couldn't deny a sense of excitement in the entire situation. He wanted to see Aro angry. He wanted Aro to know that he was powerless against the likes of Harry and Albus. He wanted Aro to learn, finally, that though they did not care for conflict, they were more than willing to fight for their new family. A family that did not and would not ever include Aro. The Cullens' home was nowhere near as calm as Harry and Albus'. Everyone seemed to be flying about the house, all doing something in particular. Harry could hear Carlisle pacing in his office on the second floor, muttering names to himself. Rosalie was ranting and raving about one thing or another with Emmett at her side, trying to get her to focus on something else. Alice sat at the table, her eyes wide and

trying to get more information on the Volturi. Jasper was at her side. Craig had arrived just before them and was sitting in a corner, concentrating hard as he looked over a piece of paper in his hands. Every few minutes he would write something down before returning to his thoughts. Craig had an ability that would have made him an indispensable part of the Volturi if they had know such a thing about him. He never stayed in their presence long enough for them to find out, however. He had other business that he attended to, but Harry and Albus were his oldest friends. He would always drop everything for them. It also helped that he was the only person that could know where they were at a given time. Albus' kept a special loop hole in his powers just for Craig. Craig could pin point any one person on the planet. Given a name, he would know their location within seconds. It was similar to Eleazar, a former guard of the Volturi who could find vampires with specific talents that would make them desirable to Aro. Craig could see everyone. Albus and Harry joined Craig in the corner, watching as he jotted down latitude and longitude of each name on the list. It was subject to change, but it always gave Craig something to start with. Harry looked over the names, recognizing Eleazar immediately. He was in Denali, Alaska, part of the Denali clan. He couldn't say that he recognized many more on the list. His eyes caught the names Vladimir and Stefan in Romania. He knew those names well. The Romanian Coven had all but ruled the world of the vampires until the Volturi killed them off and assumed power in their place. Needless to say, they weren't on good terms with their Italian counterparts. They would help, if only for revenge. A few other names looked familiar: Amun, the leader of the Egyptian Coven. They had never gotten along. Amun was much like a less powerful version of Aro, always looking for talent. Harry couldn't help but notice that though the list was getting longer, it didn't look anywhere near enough. If the Cullens were going to have a chance, they would need more people, more powerful vampires to help.

Harry felt Edward coming toward him, and turned around only be quickly enveloped in a pair of strong arms. His head barely came up to Edward's shoulder so he settled for leaning against his collarbone instead. He pushed his arms under Edward's to grasp his shoulders from behind. "Can you stay here?" Edward whispered against his hair, his breath grazing Harry's ear. "I mean, don't leave me for the rest of the day?" Harry chuckled to himself. "Well, I'm a busy person. I'll have to check my schedule…" Edward turned his head, staring at Harry whose head still rested on his chest, a serious look on his eyes. Harry nodded at him, smiling softly. "You know I'll stay," he whispered in reply, his eyes floating closed as Edward tilted his chin up to kiss him. Edward took Harry's hand and led him outside to sit on the front porch. Harry leaned heavily against him, releasing a cleansing breath into the moist afternoon air. "How are you feeling?" Edward asked, brushing his fingers through the boy's hair. "Unbelievably hungry," Harry groaned in response, enjoying the feeling as Edward massaged his scalp. "Do you want to hunt?" "I can wait." Harry wrapped his arms around Edward's waist, laying his head in the taller boy's lap, sighing contently. Despite all the chaos around him, he couldn't not enjoy the feeling of Edward so close to him, touching him, soothing him… "So I finally get to meet Marcus… or, well, your Marcus." Edward smiled wryly. "Right. My Marcus. Don't think he's yours, because he's not," Harry chuckled. "You're very possessive of your people, aren't you?" "Inexplicably. I've lost a lot of people and therefore I like to keep tabs on those I still have."

Edward nodded. "You don't have to protect me, you know. I can take care of myself. I thank you for worrying though," he laughed. Harry looked up at him. "Doesn't matter. I'm extremely hard-headed, in case you haven't noticed, and I am talking about the head that is attached to my neck!" He qualified when he caught the smirk on Edward's face. "If you want it in words, I… how you say… 'pull all the stops' when it comes to protecting people. They don't always like it… I don't always like… but it's necessary." "Is it for the Greater Good?" Edward whispered and Harry scoffed. "I hate that phrase. Damn the day Albus ever thought of it." "How about being cruel to be kind?" Harry winced. "That sounds worse, but it sounds about right." Edward licked his lips in thought, his hands still moving through Harry's hair. "I always thought that it was rather foolish for someone to wish for death. I couldn't understand under what circumstances they could ever wish to cease existing…" he murmured, "… but I think I understand now." "Don't talk death to me," Harry growled. "Not now." "But I want you to know this… I think it's important." Harry sat up, boring into Edward's eyes fiercely. "I don't want you to die for me. If I want to die, then I think I can handle it well enough on my own." "Harry," Edward whispered affectionately. "When you love someone, you do anything and everything to let them know that." He bent his head to look directly at the boy who knelt in front of him. A heartbreaking smile stretched slowly across his face as he lifted a hand to Harry's cheek, stroking it slowly. "I want you to know that I would give you anything, I'll go anywhere, do anything… I'll give up my life for you, if you want it. You already own my heart…" Harry didn't know how to take those words. On the one hand, Harry was pretty sure he'd never before heard those words that sounded so beautiful and despite himself, he felt his heart swell. But on the other hand, why was Edward saying it then? Surely Edward didn't think he

was going to die? Was that why he was talking like that? Edward shook his head. "Relax, Harry. I don't think I'm going to die… I just wanted you to know." He wasn't sure whether he was reassuring himself or Harry. He knew that he was supposed to be thinking of his family. Harry was in no danger… was he? Harry looked closely at Edward, searching his eyes. "Do you regret Albus and I coming?" "NO!" Edward grasped Harry's face tightly, pulling him close so to make himself perfectly clear. "I haven't regretted a single thing that's happened since you arrived. Well… perhaps getting Isabella involved…" He stroked Harry's face reverently, his black eyes staring adoringly into Harry's. "But I love you. There isn't a sound in the world that I love more than your voice. There isn't a feeling that I cherish more than the feel of your skin." His hands moved down to cup Harry's jaw, pulling him up even closer so that their noses brushed each other. "There isn't anything I'd rather do than make love to you every second of every day for the rest of eternity." Harry gulped, overcome by Edward's words, and knew every one of them to be true. He couldn't speak but found that he didn't have to, for Edward finally pressed his lips softly to Harry's, gasping as if the touch ignited something that overwhelmed him. Before Harry knew it, Edward had laid back on the ground, pulling Harry over him, their lips never parting. He kissed him over and over again, soft, slow and chaste. Edward hugged Harry's smaller frame to him, his kissing becoming hotter and more wanton by the second. Harry's leg had fallen in between Edward's longer ones and he gasped when he felt how hard Edward was. He moaned brokenly as Edward's shoeless feet ran up and down his calves, as his arm wrapped firmly around his neck and his other hand fell to grip his rib cage, a thumb trailing over a clothed nipple. Harry felt himself losing control and at the risk of ruining the moment, he knew that he had to pull back or there would be no stopping him from making love to Edward on the front porch of the Cullens' house, in front of God and everyone.

Harry reluctantly pushed himself off of Edward, his eyes glittering with lust. At Edward's disappointed and confused expression, he quickly pulled Edward to his feet and dragged him back into the house. It seemed that everyone had convened in the kitchen, talking quickly and hardly spared a glance at the two as they flew up the stairs. Except, of course, for Albus. He saw Harry dragging a very excited Edward up the stairs and smirked to himself. 'My, my, Harry. What a one-track mind you seem to have acquired.' Edward took control when they reached the third floor, opening the door to Carlisle's study. "Give me your sock," Edward said urgently and Harry confusedly took his shoe and sock off, handing to Edward. He sheathed the doorknob of the office with the sock before closing it firmly and locking it from the inside. Within seconds, Edward was on Harry again and Harry groaned when he began to bite and lick at his neck. "Why are we here? Do you have some sort of 'let's sleep in mom and dad's bed' sex fantasy that I don't know about?" He cried out as Edward's teeth bit into his neck. "No. This study is as sound proof as it can get in a house full of vampires. They'd hear us in my room," Edward explained in a hushed voice, pushing Harry's body deeper into the carpet. He placed his hands on either side of the boy beneath him, supporting himself so that he hovered above. His eyes traced over the Harry's body, completely mesmerized. No matter how many times he looked at him, his beauty never ceased to amaze. Harry's eyes were shining as they gazed at each other, as though full of tears, yet not. Edward lowered himself once again, fingers tracing the angles of Harry's face, his eyes half closed as though he were about to fall into a dream. Harry's tongue flicked out to wet his lips and Edward couldn't help but follow it back into his mouth. His kiss wasn't fervent, nor was it rushed. It was slow, exploring and breathtaking. Harry felt his body begin to shake under the conflicting emotions that Edward always seemed to evoke within him. Every kiss left him trembling and every

brush of Edward's fingers on his face made his breath hitch. Gods, did Edward even understand what he was doing to him? "Edw… I… I need…" Harry could barely think straight. Was it even possible that they had done this before? He felt like he was experiencing something completely new. He had let Edward make love to him before, but there he was, his body quaking over a mere kiss. Edward smiled sweetly at him, moving his hands down to pull at the hem of his shirt, kissing the skin as he moved the shirt higher and higher and finally completely off his lover. Harry's hands buried in his hair as he pressed his lips to his stomach, dipping his tongue in his bellybutton before moving upwards to kiss the middle of his chest, his hands working on his dusky nipples. "Merlin… stop teasing please…" Harry moaned, pulling Edward up for another kiss. Harry pulled at Edward's shirt, almost ripping it off of him in his desperation to feel more of his skin. He nuzzled Edward's chest as Edward lifted him up, taking off his belt and sliding his jeans down his legs. His hands smoothed the skin of Harry's thighs as he laid him down again, grasping him behind his knees as his head sunk lower. Harry felt his breath on his cock, shifted wantonly for what he thought was about to come. "Whoa! What are you doing?" Harry let out a strangled cry. As wonderful as the sensations that Edward was inflicting on him were, he had to keep reminding himself that not only were they in Carlisle's office, but whole goddamn Brady Bunch was still downstairs. He felt sorry for Jasper. But those thoughts left him as he felt Edward's breath on his entrance once again. "I've been doing some light reading on how to 'bring more pleasure' to my lover," Edward chuckled. "I was thoroughly surprised at how much information there was on the subject." "They have books on this?" Harry shuddered as Edward delivered a very pointed…lick. "Oh!" "Quiet, there's people downstairs," Edward couldn't help but laugh, working his tongue on Harry's core.

Harry had heard of such things as rimming, but he never thought that there would be a time when someone would actually want to perform it. But Edward seemed very eager to please, working his mouth and tongue over Harry's entrance, all the while holding his shaking legs steady. Harry felt his control fly out the window. He imagined he must look extremely odd, but Edward didn't seem to notice. In no time at all, he had turned Harry into a wanton helpless puddle beneath him, writhing and daring not asking for more because he wasn't sure he could take much more. Edward crawled up Harry's body. He was satisfied with the thought that he had successfully kissed every part of Harry, tasted him thoroughly. Unfortunately, he didn't think that he would ever get enough of him. Every taste, every sound that came from Harry left him wanting more. Edward fell to Harry's side, stroking his hips lovingly. Harry's bleary eyes turned to him, smiling. "Spread your legs," Edward whispered and Harry obliged. He entered Harry slowly. There was a time for extensive foreplay and this wasn't it. He lay behind Harry, both on their sides, with his arms wrapped tightly around his lover, kissing every part of him he could reach. He thrust slowly, settling each time for a few moments before pulling out again. He kissed the hairline of Harry's neck, his nose nuzzling into the silky black mop of hair. Every few thrusts he would twist his hips, and Harry would cry out as his cock moved about inside him, filling him completely. He bit his bottom lip to keep from moaning when Harry clenched down on him, flexing on his cock almost mercilessly. Edward didn't know if he would be able to hold out with Harry using him like that. He brought a hand down to Harry's cock, stroking it leisurely with shaky hands, trying to keep the rhythm and focus on something else other than the wonderful feeling of Harry's body holding him so tightly. He thumbed the head, just as Harry liked it, running the thumbnail into his slit smoothly. Harry's body shook and if Edward didn't know any better, he would have thought Harry was crying.

Suddenly, Harry wriggled his arse desperately and Edward bit his tongue as his cock twisted inside him. He sighed heavily as Harry started to grind back on him, trying to keep his groans and cries in his throat, panting heavily against Harry's cold back. Harry, for his part, felt his world shatter with every thrust. There was nothing. Only Edward. Only Edward existed in this broken part of the universe. Only Edward with him, beside him, within him. With that thought, he came, and he vaguely heard Edward's strangled cry and then the echoing warmth inside of him. "Harry…" He whispered softly, Harry tucked snugly against his chest. "Edward…" Harry answered in a far away voice. He was still basking in the afterglow and hardly had the will to speak. "Is it possible that I haven't even known you four months… and I know that I'll love you forever?" Harry's eyes flickered open, a joyful smile spread on his lips. He let his breath roll across Edward's chest as he spoke. "It's very possible." It had to be. He felt the same way. The next day Edward hardly saw anything of his mate. Harry, Albus and Craig left early that morning, working to locate the others on the list that Carlisle had given him and arrange transport. Edward was put in charge of picking up the Denali clan when they arrived at the airport. They were the first the respond to their call and said that on no uncertain terms would they abandon them when they were in need. They would arrive soon and Emmett hadn't stopped teasing him about what Tanya's reaction would be when she found out that Edward had found his mate. At least one of them had kept the humor going. He was starting to feel the tension in the room. Carlisle was making calls, Esme was moving about restlessly and Alice was still working on getting more information about the Volturi. They knew that Gabrielle had just arrived in Italy. She hadn't yet spoken to the Volturi, but her constitution to do so was still very

strong. Alice hadn't seen her judgment waver once. It was going to happen. That was clear. They knew that she wasn't going to tell them about Albus and Harry. She knew that telling them so would make them rethink going. Besides, she didn't want Harry or Albus hurt. If she could get the Volturi to go, then the probability that they would do as they intended was still strong. And they knew she wanted them dead. Disposed of. She had given up on Harry. She knew he would hate her. But she wanted what was best for him and she knew the Cullens would only tear him down. She knew this. Edward could feel Rosalie's formulating plans to kill the girl the second she decided to show her face again. She would have to get in line. He knew for a fact that the first person in said line would be Albus. Then him. Then Harry. Then perhaps Rosalie. The night before had been wonderful. Harry's desire and passion had given him the confidence that he hadn't had before. Harry had no regrets. Even when the world was falling down around them, Harry didn't regret being with him. He didn't regret anything. It was surprising to Edward that Harry didn't even regret Gabrielle. But Harry's reasons made sense. If Harry had never met Gabrielle, he probably would have stayed in France, in the house that he loved so much. Albus and Harry loved to travel, but mostly because they had to. All their previous homes had been desecrated by people they couldn't stand. But despite all this, Edward felt uneasy. He tried attributing it the Volturi's arrival, but it didn't seem right. He was nervous about Aro's reaction, to be sure. He was even more nervous about Marcus'. But then he figured that it was probably because he hadn't seen Harry once that day. They were both busy, he knew, but he couldn't help but picture Harry's face in his head, and think that he would be so much more at ease if he were by his side. "Hey Edward!" Emmett called to him, a sneaky smile on his face. "We need to get to the airport, man. Their flight just took off." He was practically bouncing on his toes at the prospect of breaking the news

to Tanya that she'd been outdone. By a 16-year-old boy, even. Edward sighed, and picked up his keys, the hole in his stomach beginning to grow. "Please! I'm begging you!" "It's not important! They came to help us, and I'm not going to reward them by breaking Tanya's heart, okay?" "It's just too good an opportunity…" "No." "But–" "Forget it." Emmett crossed his arms and pouted as they entered the airport in Seattle. The plane had just arrived and Tanya and the others were just exiting the plane. Edward and Emmett waited at the baggage claim. Kate, Tanya's sister, was the first to appear coming down the stairs, drawing eyes to her angel-like complexion. She was fairly short with glossy straight blond hair. Edward momentarily smiled as he thought that Harry would see that as a drawback. Kate was one of the only vampires in the Denali coven with powers. That was, she could project an electric current on her skin. She had once compared herself to a human Taser gun, because that's precisely what touching her was like when she allowed the current to run. She smiled politely at Edward and Emmett and made to give a hug to Emmett, who backed up suspiciously. "No unpleasant surprises, right?" Kate laughed. "In the middle of an airport?" Emmett allowed her to hug him, holding her lightly back. Edward saw the mischievous smile on her face right before a small 'zzzk' echoed between them and Emmett jumped back, the roots of his hair starting to stand on end. "Ow!" He cried, shaking himself slightly. Kate smirked before turning

to Edward. "Edward," she smiled at him upon her approach. "What have you managed to get yourself into this time?" "I assure you. This incident has little to do with me." "You've angered the Volturi before." Edward nodded. "I thank you for coming. It means the world to us." "Of course," Kate said, leaning up to press a kiss to Edward's cheek. "You're as much family to us as we are to each other." The Denali coven consisted of three sisters; Tanya, Kate and Irina. Their mother had once been part of them as well, but the Volturi killed her a number of years ago for trying to raise an immortal child. That was seen as one of the most horrid crimes a vampire could commit. An immortal child would never grow, would never learn anything more than what they could know at such an age. They were dangerous and so Sasha, their mother, was killed. There was a myth about the Denali sisters, that they were the originators of the term 'succubus'. They did tend to prey on men. All sorts of men; human and vampire alike. Carmen and Eleazar joined them not long after Sasha was murdered. Eleazar used to be a guard in the Volturi but left after finding his mate who was a vegetarian. "Edward!" Edward steeled himself for the tender hug given by Tanya, the one who that been in love with him since the moment she laid eyes on him. She pressed a kiss to cheek, lingering for a moment before pulling away. Edward smiled affectionately at her. Tanya may have been extremely fond of him, but she was no Gabrielle. Tanya would accept Harry no matter what because he made Edward happy. She was the more mature of the two, in all aspects. "Tanya," he greeted. "So we're to meet our deaths on this visit, are we?" She asked, not looking bothered at all.

"There is… a probability…" Edward tried to explain, uncertainly. Tanya and Kate looked at each other with identical smiles. "Bring it on." Carmen and Eleazar were the next to join the group. They exchanged hugs and hands shakes between them. They were like the Denali sister's dark counterparts with their black hair and dark-angel appearances. "I must say, I was surprised to hear about your predicament, Edward," Eleazar prodded. "I remember there were many years in which the Volturi wouldn't do a thing to cross Albus and Harry. They made them, after all." "They don't know they're here. The person…" Edward couldn't even bring himself to say her name anymore, "that told them didn't mention it. She wanted them to come unawares of the entire matter." "She will be killed for that, once they find out," Eleazar stated seriously, as if Edward might be worried for her. "Something tells me she'd be better off." "What is taking Irina so long?" Kate bristled, looking at the stairway to the terminals. "Lovers. Can't keep their hands off each other," Tanya laughed. "Oh my God! Little Irina has found a mate?" Emmett crowed, earning a smack from both sisters. "He joined us not that long ago. Claimed he knew you. His name's Laurent," Carmen said, holding onto Eleazar's arm. "… well fuck me sideways…" Emmett murmured, getting another smack. "Come on! The guy's a sleaze!" He argued. "He's Irina's mate?" Edward asked, watching for the black vampire to appear. "Yes. They're quite attached already." Carmen smiled dreamily. "Young love is always so beautiful." Finally, the pair appeared on the stairs, looking like polar opposites.

Irina's silver blond hair and white complexion contrasted beautifully with Laurent's dark skin and red eyes. "And how is he assimilating to your lifestyle? Last I heard, he was still eating humans," Edward asked, warily. Carmen frowned. "He's having some problems, but for the most part as long as he's eaten enough, he can control himself." "Carmen, you know we can't afford to have a rogue vampire in Forks. It's a small town. People notice things." "He'll be fine. He assured us he would be," Carmen defended him. Edward and Emmett exchanged a look, but said nothing further. If Laurent was Irina's mate, there was really nothing they could do about his presence. "Edward, Emmett," Irina smiled angelically with her arm looped through Laurent's. The other man nodded uncertainly at them, as if waiting for defensive action. "This is my mate, Laurent, but I've heard you've already met." She seemed blissfully ignorant of the context of their first meeting. Edward nodded to him, in welcome. He didn't see any other option. "Good to see you happily settled." He held out a hand, which Laurent took graciously. The only thing Edward could think of was that Harry would not be happy about this turn of events. Emmett crossed his arms instead of extending a hand. "C'mon. They're expecting us at home," he announced gruffly, before taking the girls' suitcases and stalking off in a huff. Edward wished he could have expressed himself as childishly as Emmett had, but he knew that it was important to be hospitable. These were friends who had all but consented to die with them, after all. He took the time to fill Eleazar in on the turn of events that were the cause of the Volturi's somewhat unexpected visit. He, Eleazar, Carmen and Tanya took his car, while Emmett was forced to take Laurent, Kate and Irina in his Jeep. Emmett ranted loudly in his head and Edward wished he could reciprocate the gesture. Emmett's thundering thoughts were very distracting. The others talked amongst themselves about the injustice of it all until

they arrived at the house. Edward had been looking forward to it because Harry was supposed to have come back to let them know what they had been able to find. He could have just called of course, but he expressed that it would have been more beneficial to just tell them in person. Plus, he wanted to see Edward as well. He frowned when he didn't see the familiar Bugatti in the driveway. "I must confess, I'm rather eager to see Harry and Albus again. They always seemed very interesting, but they were always occupied with Aro, Caius, and Marcus." Edward would have to remember to ask Eleazar for more information on Jane and Alec with regards to Harry. He had always wanted to know more about their infatuation with him, but Harry wasn't very forthcoming on that particular subject. When they got inside, Alice's thoughts were the first that he caught. She was looking particularly frazzled and worried. "What's that?" Edward asked and Alice sighed in frustration. "We haven't heard a word from Harry or Albus and Harry was supposed to be here by now. I've been trying to see them but it's almost like Albus has blocked me again." "This seems like a bad time to be blocking our powers. How are we supposed to know what the Volturi are doing?" Emmett asked, stalking to the living room to take a seat next to Rosalie. "What's he doing here?" Jasper snapped, standing up defensively when Laurent appeared with Irina. "Calm down, they're mates," Edward told him. "So?" "I promise, he won't give any trouble. He really wants to help and he's getting better at controlling himself around humans," Irina defended Laurent. Laurent himself seemed to be sniffing the air, probably looking for any signs of Bella. "Can we focus, please?" Alice cried in frustration. "I can't see anything! Albus is blocking me, I'm sure of it."

"Why would he be blocking you?" Emmett asked irritably. "I can still see the Volturi if I try, but I can't see Harry. Or Craig and Albus. Nothing." "Maybe we should just wait. They'll turn up when they want to," Rosalie huffed, examining her nails and looking completely unconcerned. Edward, however, was grabbing his keys again, intending to go over to Harry's house in the hopes of finding him. Perhaps this was what had been eating at him before. Perhaps something had happened to Harry and Albus. Had the Volturi sent someone ahead? But Gabrielle hadn't even spoken to them yet. He was being paranoid, he knew, but he couldn't shake the gnawing hole beginning to form in his stomach. "I'll be back," he said in a rush, making his way past a bewildered Tanya and Kate, ignoring Laurent completely as he opened the door. He felt Alice at his side. "I'm coming with you. Maybe Fleur and William can tell us what's going on," she murmured distractedly, still searching the future for signs of them. Edward nodded, climbing into the car and starting the engine, his thoughts completely focused on Harry. The second that Edward stepped out of the Volvo, he knew something was wrong. He frowned as he regarded the house before him. It still looked the same, and the lights of the bottom floor were on, but there was something off. The house still stood proudly in the midst of Albus' garden, but it seemed as though magic of the place was gone. Albus' flowers used to remind him of a secret garden, full of mystique and wonder. Now it seems plain, as if anyone could have planted it. "Edward?" Alice asked in concern, coming closer to him. He shook his head, trying to listen. He couldn't hear Harry's thoughts… nor Albus'. It was odd. They were supposed to be there. Edward crossed from the driveway to the porch in seconds, opening

the door quickly, noticing that both Harry's and Albus' cars were still in the open garage. The living room was sparsely lit. It could have been a romantic scene, but it only reminded Edward of something from a horror movie. He rushed past the living room and into the kitchen to find Fleur and William sitting quietly at the kitchen table. The second Edward came into view, William stood, looking at him warily, his mouth already half-open. Instead of greeting Edward, he licked his lips, his hand falling to his pocket. Fleur stood as well, walking a bit forward, but even she, who always seemed to have something to declare, said nothing. Edward didn't like the way they were looking at him. Fleur stood in a silvery robe over her dark blue dress, her wavy tresses falling like a majestic waterfall down her back, but her golden eyes were dull with sadness. Her tall, fiery haired lover looked almost like her opposite, as if a handsome hunter had some how seduced the goddess of the moon. They looked like a fairy tale, really. And they were both looked at him as if he were something to be pitied. He hated it. "What's happened?" He asked, trying to scan through their thoughts, but to no avail. Fleur was reciting Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey and William was replaying every single knock-knock joke he could think of. Fleur licked her lips tentatively, her eyes flickering to William. His eyes narrowed sadly as he pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket. He moved closer to Edward, fingering it uncertainly. But Edward didn't want it. "What does it say?" He asked, but William shook his head. "Alice, what does it say?" Edward turned to Alice, but Alice stayed silent, her expression almost fearful. Edward looked at William, their eyes meeting. They had become something like brothers since William had arrived and he begged him to just tell him what it said. "I haven't read it…" William said truthfully, still holding the paper out

to Edward. Edward's hands took the paper shakily, turning it over a few times before finally unfolding it. He gulped, and felt his heart shatter into a million pieces as he read and reread Harry's neat but hastily penned scrawl, perhaps trying to will the words to say something different, something less hopeless. He fell to his knees, and covered his face with his hands, not wanting his family to see the bare anguish. He sucked in air helplessly, feeling a foreboding numbness spread across his body. The slip of paper fluttered to the floor before Alice caught it, looking horrified as Edward curled around himself. She could feel her own heart, as well as the hearts of Fleur and William, break as she read the horrible words. 'Edward, I don't have much time. I have to go. Please don't hate me. I'll love you forever, Harry'

Twenty: This is How the Heart Breaks Five days. Five days since Albus and Harry's flight leaving the Cullens in an uproar and the visitors confused and wary Jasper was furious and Emmett confused. Alice and Esme had sobbed tearlessly for days and Carlisle had been in shock. Tanya, Kate and the rest were at a loss for what to do, so they settled for doing anything they could. They picked up the arriving vampires from the airport, brought them back, filled them in and repeated. They were able to get it together. Carlisle and Esme, although considerably disheartened, had taken to making all the newcomers comfortable. The previously light-hearted atmosphere of the house had taken a somber turn.

Edward wasn't around at all, but they all knew where he was. Laying in his meadow, staring up the permanently grey sky. They had taken turns trying to get him to come back to the house. They had been too hard on him. Jasper and Rosalie especially. Edward and Alice returned to the Cullen household and told everyone what had happened after Alice had gotten Edward up off the floor. Rosalie hadn't even let him sit down before she attacked him. "I knew it! I told you they were up to no good, but do you listen? Do you ever listen?" She screeched at him, following him until he collapsed on the couch, leaning his head back with closed eyes. "Little snit. They bring this catastrophe on us and then leave!" "Rosalie, please," Carlisle spat, irritated at his older daughter for being so insensitive. "No. Absolutely not. I shut up when they fell in love, didn't I? I stayed quiet and let it happen. And where did it get us? Alone against the Volturi for something that shouldn't have happened in the first place! You're an idiot, Edward. I can't…" "Shut UP!" Edward roared, jumping to his feet. Rosalie took a step back at the ferocity in his eyes. "Seriously, everyone needs to calm down," Jasper reasoned, stressed by the amount of anger, sadness and fear in the room. "Don't you start, Jasper. I know you're thinking the exact same thing. You said that they were turncoats to begin with. Uncaring observers, you said," Rosalie snarled. Edward didn't need to look at Jasper to know the truth. He'd heard those same thoughts running through his head the second they'd conveyed the information. He knew he was being selfish, but he couldn't handle the righteous looks Rosalie was giving him, the resigned look on Jasper's face, or worse, the sympathetic undertone to everyone's thoughts. So he had taken off. And hadn't returned since. It had taken four days until Rosalie had finally come out to the field and tried to reason with him to come back to the house. She accused him of being selfish and

not having any regard for the fact that his family needed him. He succeeded in ignoring her rants and attempts at provoking him. She finally left in a huff. That was when he finally decided to pay a visit to Fleur and William. They had been left to deal with the Cullens' anger, hurt and disbelief. They bore it valiantly, especially Fleur who was under frequent attacks by many unknowing parties for being related to Gabrielle. They stayed at Harry's and Albus' abandoned house instead of the Cullens'. They had gathered, for the most part, that they were relatively unwelcome there. Rightly so, as their last visit to the house was less than a friendly one. "What the hell are you doing here!" Rosalie snarled as Carlisle opened the door for Fleur and William to enter. "You've got gall showing up here after what your sister did, you little snit! Get out at once!" Rosalie ended up very close to Fleur's face, much to Fleur's annoyance. Fleur didn't take lightly to being threatened. She blamed herself enough for Gabrielle's treason without Rosalie's declaration that the rest of the family mirrored her disdain for her beloved sister. Try as she might, Fleur could never hate Gabrielle and wouldn't allow anyone else to speak so harshly of her in her presence. "Mind your distance, darling. The fault is Gabrielle's and she will pay tolerably for her lies to the Volturi, if not with her life." Fleur's voice was almost poisonous and Rosalie was forced to back away from her seemingly lethal gaze. "Make no mistake, Rosalie,the only reason I put up with you is because of Edward. Save your comments for less than polite company, for I will not stand for another embarrassing visit as this. Perhaps you should remember that I am not Gabrielle and neither is William, nor are we condoning her mistakes. Have some sympathy. After this mess passes over, I may not have a sister much longer. We all know how well the Volturi takes being lied to." With that, she swept out of the house. Alice and Esme tried to comfort her but she was too angry and depressed to bear it. William left with her and they hadn't returned since. They were both very happy to see Edward. Fleur had been worried

sick and hadn't been able to figure out how to use Albus' iPhone that he'd left with them to contact him. William had been mourning the loss of his new family but didn't feel comfortable going to Cullens' house after the disaster of a visit last time. Rosalie had blamed them for everything that had happened with Gabrielle and almost forbid them to ever enter their home again. She would have if Carlisle hadn't protested her efforts to do so. William had looked to Emmett and Jasper for support but could see that though they didn't like the situation. It was best to let things cool down before attempting to contact them again. Both parties were left feeling betrayed. So Fleur and William were reduced to loitering about the house and trying to contact Gabrielle to no avail. Fleur's face brightening considerably upon seeing Edward appear on their back porch. "Edward!" She cried, throwing her arms around him. He hugged her, managing a small smile for her benefit. "Darling, you look 'orrible." "Well… outside match the inside, then," he chuckled brokenly. Fleur dragged him into the house, planting him on the couch and took his hand in her lap. "I know that face. Gabrielle bore the same one for years after Harry left. I knew the second I laid eyes on him, he would be a heart breaker," she pondered, stroking his hand delicately. "Is that Edward?" William appeared at the bottom of the stairs. He stood awkwardly for a moment, not moving forward or back, and seemed very unsure of himself. "I don't blame you. For anything," Edward assured him. He tried to smile again, but a frown had been fixed on his face for the past five days and so it felt strange. William smiled softly, walking toward them. He couldn't figure out what to do with his hands so he tucked them in his pockets. "I know it's got to be hard. I can't imagine what I'd do if Fleur up and left." "He has a very good reason, Edward." Fleur patted his hand. "I've seen you two together, and I know that he loves you. He wouldn't

give that up for nothing. I have never seen him show that much affection to another person, save for Albus. I must admit," she sighed to herself, "I was beginning to think that he would never accept another person in his life." "Don't get your hopes up," Edward moaned. Fleur pursed her lips, looking at William. "How's everything with your family?" William asked, trying to change the subject. "I haven't been home at all this week." "What?" William looked shocked. "Edward… your family needs you. This could be war…" "I can't stand them looking at me as if I'm the most pitiable creature on the earth! Rosalie keeps telling me 'I told you so', and Jasper keeps thinking it. I can't stand it. I tried, and I can't." Fleur nodded. "Well, if you want, you can stay here all you want. You might not want to with all the… well… just know that you can if you choose to." Edward lifted his head, and stared around at the house that had once been his favorite place in the world. Albus' blood pops still lay in a candy dish in the middle of the coffee table. His beloved iPhone and laptop lay beside it. He looked into the kitchen where the old man used to hover religiously, always working on some kind of project. There was a cauldron still sitting on the burner with a cover on it. He must have left some of his serum for Isabella. Some clipped flowers were still living in a vase at the kitchen table. Harry's books were littered all over the place. He kept feeling like any second Albus would come running down the stairs, looking delighted to see him and greet him as if he hadn't seen him in years. Any second, he could hear the roar of Harry's Bugatti in the driveway and the boy would rush in and hug him, pressing urgent kisses to his lips and smirking with a minx-like sparkle in his eyes. Fleur bit her lip at the depressed look that adorned Edward's face the

more he gazed around the house. "William and I were about to go hunting… if you want…" Edward cut her off. "Go on ahead. I'll be fine," he squeezed her hand. "Will you—" "I'll be here when you get back. I don't really feel much like moving anymore," Edward assured her. Fleur nodded, and William took her hand. In seconds they were gone and Edward was alone. He got to his feet and took a blood pop, eager for something familiar. The house still had the essence of Albus and Harry all over it, but to Edward's eyes, everything had become unrecognizable. Harry's books were just books. Albus' cauldrons were just oddly shaped pots. Edward crossed the room and began to slowly make his way up the stairs. He figured that if any place would give him comfort, it would be Harry's library. The wooden door was closed. He opened it without a sound and entered. His Harry really loved books. The entire collection would have been worth millions to collectors. Ladders went high on the shelves, and Edward imagined that it would probably take decades to read everything that was stored in the room. He couldn't imagine what Harry's library looked like at Les Hauteurs. He had thought not that long ago that perhaps he, Harry and Albus could go there on a trip of sorts. Harry and Gabrielle hadn't been at each others throats as much as before and he knew that Harry would love seeing his old house since he talked about it so much. Edward wouldn't have minded seeing it as well. He had dreamed up an adventure for himself, alongside Harry and Albus who always had such interesting and amusing stories to tell of their encounters and the like. What he wanted more than anything was to spend the rest of his days with Harry at his side. He had even resigned himself to thinking that perhaps he would have to leave his

family behind. No doubt Rosalie would never be able to adapt to such a lifestyle, Emmett would stay with her and Jasper and Alice with them. Esme would want to be with her family and Carlisle would follow her. Edward knew it would be hard for him to leave Carlisle and Esme and Alice, but if that was what it took to be with Harry, then he would do it gladly. They had an eternity to know each other and besides, Edward would have loved to travel with them. But it was all for nothing. Harry and Albus seemed to have different plans, and they didn't include Edward. Edward pulled the note from his pocket. The page was creased and fragile from all the times he had unfolded and folded it again. He had read the words over and over, trying to understand something that Harry wasn't telling. There was something behind those words that somehow gave Edward the hope that perhaps it wasn't an ending. It couldn't be an ending. He couldn't have mistaken the looks that Harry had given him even when he thought he wasn't looking. Harry couldn't have fabricated such thoughts or sparks of pleasure at Edward's touches and embraces. They had been real. The more Edward thought about it, the more it didn't make sense. Harry had loved him. He still loved him. He told him so in the note. 'I will love you forever.' But why would he leave the person he loved when he knew that it would break them? The moment Edward knew he was in the love with Harry was the second he felt his love returned. He didn't doubt himself for a moment and wasn't insecure in his relationship with Harry at all. Every look and every word was spoken without hesitation. He must have missed something. "You know…" Edward looked up quickly to see William standing at the door. His wild red hair was windblown from running, and Edward suddenly

realized just how long he had been there. The sky had darkened considerably and the night was black as charcoal. "… Harry said something to me sometime before he left that I found interesting," William said as sat in what had been Albus' seat when he took it upon himself to annoy Harry relentlessly while the youth was trying to read. "'I'm not good with goodbyes,' he said. The reason why he never ended letter or phone calls with goodbye? I thought that was weird," William said. "But you know, I've always maintained that when we're this old, it really is never goodbye until we're all dead. It's a small world to roam and chances are, no matter what the chances are, you'll always run to that person again sooner or later. It's only a matter of time." William smiled tightly at Edward. "That's the only hope I have of ever seeing my brothers again. Unless of course, they're dead." William seemed to be too lost in his own thoughts about his brothers for Edward to decipher exactly what he was trying to say. "My brothers were the exact same way, you know. They never said goodbye. But they always said that it was because it wasn't goodbye. I guess what I'm trying to say is… they don't say goodbye because they know that it's not. They know they'll be back, but the rest of us are left wondering." Edward swallowed, trying to grasp what the heck William was getting at. "Why would they leave us to wonder if they knew they were coming back? Why make us crazy with the mystery?" "If there is one thing I have learned about Albus and Harry is that they never leave the job half done. They put it off for a while… but they always finish it." "William?" Fleur's voice floated up the three sets of stairs to the open library door. "Are you bothering him? I told you he needed time alone." William smiled, patting Edward's shoulder. "Hope I didn't make your pondering worse. I just thought… perhaps my bumbling rhetoric might be of some use to you." He paused at the door, reaching for the knob to pull it closed. "Mark my words though. They wouldn't leave without

a very good reason. If they aren't back by the next full moon… I should be very much surprised." With that he shut the door, leaving Edward to his thoughts. Edward folded the note back and put it in his pocket. He moved to sit in Harry's chair, the coffee table covered in newspapers. He gazed across the room to the painting on the wall. He heard Fleur harping at William to leave him alone and how heartbroken and alone he must feel. Edward had to admit he would feel a lot better with company than being stuck with his own thoughts as he had been for the better part of a week. He popped the blood pop out of his mouth thoughtfully. He looked down to the table and straightened the newspapers mindlessly until something caught his eye. He frowned when saw pencil markings all over the newspaper with arrows pointing to different letters and pages. He picked it up and pulled it closer to catch what Harry could possibly have been trying to do. But try as he might, he couldn't make sense of it at all. At least, not until he turned the page and saw a large circle drawn around the word 'Germany.' He turned the page again and saw 'Wiltshire' circled as well, only this was connected to two other words: 'cattle' and 'witchcraft.' 'What on earth could that mean?' Edward thought. He realized that the newspapers weren't American like the ones Harry had bought when he first arrived to get up to date on the times. They were European newspapers. He saw the London Observer and Times, the Edinburgh Scotsman, among others. What was Harry doing with European newspapers, unless he was planning on traveling there? He was planning on traveling there. Edward delved into the papers, watching how Harry connected words and places and events. He was looking for something, or someone. Germany was circled and connected to Nuremberg and the word 'prison.' Were they planning on going to a prison in Germany?

In another paper, London and the word 'black' were circled and connected by a line. They were connected to the words 'noise', 'disturbance', and 'howling'. In the same paper, another string of words contained 'spinner', 'run-down' and 'stench.' Edward struggled to make sense of it. It was obvious that Harry was looking for something and trying to find hints or leads in the papers. But the thought that Harry had been looking for something before he left gave Edward some hope. Perhaps Harry merely left with the intent of finding help? Perhaps the places that were circled were leads to people that he knew? The London paper caught his eyes once again. Howling? Did Harry not mention that he had a friend that could turn into a… dog? There were other parts as well, circles cities and happens such as disappearances, bitings, 'bloodless bodies found near…' He was certainly looking for other vampires. Edward bunched the papers together quickly and was out the door and down the stairs in seconds. Fleur looked up in surprise as Edward seemed to appear beside her. "Edward? Feeling better? I told William he shouldn't hurry you…" "I'm fine, thank you Fleur. Can I ask you something?" Edward said in a rush. Fleur sensed the urgency in his words and looked down at the old papers in his hands curiously. William stood from his place on the couch. "Of course, darling." "Does Harry know anyone in Germany? Does Nuremberg ring a bell?" Fleur frowned at him until he pointed to the words circled on the paper. "Nuremberg… is that the site of one of those horrid Nazi concentration camps?" "Yes," Edward said quickly. "Is there any reason to believe that someone Harry and Albus know is in that area? Have they told you?" Fleur shook her head. "I'm sorry, dear. I know nothing about

Germany." Edward spread the papers out on the table and motioned for Fleur and William to look. They examined the papers closely before Fleur pointed to London. "Black is the name of an old friend of Albus and Harry's. Sirius Black. He and his mate lived in the London area, last I heard, but that was over a thousand years ago." Fleur caught sight of the words connected to it. "'Howling.' Well, that certainly sounds like him. Never met him in person, but I've heard many stories." So that was it. Harry had gone in search of help. Help in the form of old friends. The circled words on the papers would probably be nonsense to anyone but Harry and Albus. "Thank you, Fleur." Edward hugged her and kissed her on the cheek before grabbing the papers and disappearing out the back door. "I'll call in an hour or two!" He shouted back as they stood bewildered on the back porch. Bella sat in her driveway, the keys already in the ignition of the car. She could barely function with a broken leg, but she had crutched herself to the truck and felt that she could probably get herself to the Cullens' house well enough if she took it slow. Charlie was dead asleep. She had only gotten back a day or two ago. She'd stayed in Phoenix with her mother a few days after the accident, but really couldn't bear to stay away from Charlie any longer without explaining everything to him and apologizing for hurting him so. She had been disappointed to not hear anything about Harry or the Cullens when she got back. From what Charlie had told her, they were having lots of company. He had passed Carlisle and the others many times as they traveled to and from the airport. Carlisle had called it a family emergency. Bella was worried. She really didn't want to impose if they had family, but she was eager to see Alice. And Harry, whom she was keen to apologize to after all the trouble with the nomads. She had been sitting in the car for almost fifteen minutes in the dark of the night, contemplating her plan of action. She decided at last that perhaps visiting Harry would be best since the Cullens' house was

likely to be teeming with relatives. She gingerly put her uninjured foot on the pedal and put the truck in reverse. She observed Charlie's window to make sure the light didn't come on to signal him waking and when she was sure he was still slumbering, she took off down the road towards Harry and Albus' house. It took her about twenty minutes to get there, pulling onto the gravel driveway with slithered through the woods. The first thing she noticed was that the house looked vacant. She bit her lip in worry but perhaps they were in the back relaxing or something. She put the car in park and grabbed her crutches. She rang the doorbell, backing up slightly and expecting Albus to throw open the door with a flourish and greet her. She was taken aback when she saw the beautiful blond woman instead, opening the door and peering out curiously. "Oh!" she exclaimed in surprise. "It's you." She narrowed her eyes at Bella, scrutinizing her form. William had told her what had happened in Phoenix. After all that mess, she was surprised that the human would have the gall to show her face again. Bella fidgeted nervously on the doorstep. "I umm… hi," she said, feeling foolish and awkward. Fleur gave her a quick and scathing smile. "Is there something you wanted?" She had nothing against humans in general, but this particular one had been the main reason that Gabrielle had abandoned her and Harry and gone to the Volturi. If the human had just stayed out of it, this whole catastrophe might have been avoided. "Well… I just wanted… Is Harry here?" Bella could tell the beautiful didn't care for her much. She hadn't even opened the door enough for her to come inside, even though sky looked as though it was about to open and the wind was picking up. "No, I'm afraid not. He's gone." Gone? What did she mean by gone? Bella frowned at her vague reply. "Could you tell me where I could find him?"

"Why would you want to do that?" Fleur snapped, loosing her patience. "I wanted to apologize… and talk to him, if I could… I'm sorry, am I interrupting something?" "Fleur, darling, you're scaring her. Let her in, it's about to flood outside." Bella let out a sigh of relief upon seeing William. He had helped her so much with the nomads and she felt she owed him her life as much as anyone else. Fleur pursed her lips as she opened the door wider for Bella to crutch herself inside. Bella exchanged smiles with William. "You're looking better than last I saw you, missy," William said, gesturing for her to take a seat on couch. "Feeling better as well. I just wanted to stop by and apologize for all the trouble I caused. And to thank you for… well… saving my life. I was hoping to talk to Harry and Albus as well?" William smiled tightly as Fleur passed behind him, making no attempt to shield the displeasure on her face. "You won't find them here. They're out of the country. Left almost a day after we got back." Bella nodded. "Well… do you know when they'll be back?" "We don't know if they will be back," Fleur lied, ignoring the pointed look that William threw her. "I'm afraid your little escapade has thrown them off this continent. Gabrielle as well." William glared at her, but she made no amends. The human wasn't there to apologize. She was there to snoop some more and Fleur wouldn't have it. She wanted nothing more than for the human to disappear into thin air and never darken their assumed doorstep again. Bella fumbled for words. "I… I never meant…." "I know you didn't. You poor girl. Harry really doesn't know the affect

that he has on unsuspecting women, does he? Perhaps you should do yourself a favor and forget everything that's happened since he arrived. I assume that you know that he's with Edward? Then you should know that he was perfectly happy before you decided to weasel your way into his life." "Edward? Oh my gosh, is Edward okay?" Bella really was concerned. Edward must be torn apart if Harry left all of a sudden. Unless he went with them. "Is he gone as well?" "Edward was just here. He's gone home," William said. "You should do the same. Don't want you to sustain anymore injuries, do we?" Bella nodded, knowing full well that she had worn out her welcome. She tried to stand, wincing as her weight fell on her injured leg. William went to her side and helped her, propping her up on her crutches. Bella hobbled to the door just as the doorbell rang. William frowned and walked quickly to the door, pulling it open again. He gasped when he opened the door. It couldn't be. But all his doubts flew from his mind when he was greeted with the twin grins he hadn't seen in centuries. "'ello Bill, ol' boy!" "Happy to see us?" "We'll take by your freaked out expression that you are." William's mouth opened and closed comically. "I say, Billy… "Is that a human in the house?" "He's been incredibly selfish. How dare you defend those two ingrates?" Rosalie ranted for what must have been the hundredth time since Edward ran off. "I don't understand him at all. He's always running off when things this hard. Where does he get off abandoning his family when we have so many other things to worry about than the idiots' treachery?" The Cullens' living room was assembled with the members of the

covens, or at least, the ones that weren't about hunting or otherwise. All in all, about two dozen had answered the Cullens' call for help. It wasn't near enough, but it was something at least. Amun, a dark man of the Egyptian coven, spoke in a thick accent. "I am very surprised that you don't like Albus and Harry. I've never heard of anyone speaking ill of them. They are quiet and keep mostly to themselves, but to those who know them intimately, they are charming and accommodating. Especially Albus." "Did they mention that they abandon their friends when the going gets tough?" Jasper mumbled, earning a slap from Alice. "You can't pretend it isn't true." "We don't know what they're thinking. They helped us find and get everyone together, didn't they?" Alice snipped at him. "To make themselves feel better about leaving. At least they weren't leaving us alone, they probably thought." Alice sighed. She hated fighting with Jasper, but the recent flight of their friends was causing quite a rift in the family. Half of them was determined that Albus and Harry hadn't really left and the other was sure that they were freeloaders that used them and disappeared. The Romanian Coven, which consisted of two ancient vampires called Vladimir and Stegan, merely smirked from their position at the kitchen table. "I am quite eager to see if they do turn up again. I should like to have a shot at this Dumbledore character. He's the one that created the Volturi and allowed them to drive us out of our rule," Vladimir snarled. "You can take the old one and I'll get the boy. We'll see how their reputations precede them," Stefan agreed. It was no secret that they didn't like the Volturi. Perhaps it was the only reason they had agreed to help. The Romanians had bee the ruling family of the vampire world before Aro, Caius and Marcus took power. Even thousands of years later, they were still bitter, biding their time for a chance to get back at them. Esme and Carlisle frowned at Stefan and Vladimir. They didn't appreciate them talking about Albus and Harry like that. Alice was

frowning as well. Everyone on the whole felt very uncomfortable around them and were almost nervous about what they would do once the Volturi finally arrived. They had called for witnesses, but the Romanians seemed eager for a fight to the death. Eleazar and the Romanians had been locked in a glaring contest since they arrived. Being a former member of the Volturi, Eleazar found them to be very insulting of his former profession and generally tried to avoid them. "Albus and Harry are very honorable. I'm sure whatever they meant by leaving wasn't meant as abandonment." "I've seen them before. They don't care for conflict and are almost always just distant observers. I don't doubt that they are likeable for the most part, but I've seen it in action. The immortal children?" The Denali sisters flinched at the mention of it. "They did nothing to stop it. They let the Volturi slaughter thousands of vampires just for being present!" "What?" Kate asked, outraged. "You didn't say anything about them being involved with the immortal children, Carlisle. Our mother and our little brother were killed in that war! Have they no sympathy for the lives lost?" Carlisle rubbed his forehead. It had been like this for days. Everyone looked up when they heard a car pull into the drive. They hadn't been expecting anyone that night. Carlisle stood slowly as they heard the doors open, and the graceful footfalls on the ground, approaching the house. There were two of them. Carlisle knew that it was probably foolish to hope that Albus and Harry had returned. But there were two of them, and they weren't human. There was no scent of blood in the air. He could hear a quite murmur in the air as they mounted the steps. Their movements were in complete unison. He wandered closer to the door, hoping against hope that it was his two friends come back. Perhaps they had merely left to make sure that what Alice said was right. Maybe they had gone to get more help. The voices became clearer, and Carlisle frowned in disappointment.

The voices weren't familiar. "… a bit too modern for my tastes. The older and more stable ones are more pleasing. I prefer antique. Americans have no respect for fine architecture." "A bit smaller than the manor to boot." There were three firm knocks to the door. The knocks echoed like a death toll. Carlisle opened the door, unsure what to expect. Everyone that they had called had already arrived, as disheartening as that was. Who could it possibly be? He starred in confusion at the two tall vampires that occupied the porch. "Can I help you?" The older of the two, though they appeared to be related, frowned at him for moment before asking is a decidedly aristocratic voice, "Yes, we are here to speak with a Mr. Carlisle Cullen." He was English by his accent. Both were very imposing and regarding him as if he were an infidel. "I am Carlisle Cullen." "Good, then. We hear you have a certain problem with authority figures. We're here to offer assistance, as per request." Carlisle shook his head in confusion. "I'm not understanding. Who are you? Who sent you?" The two vampires exchanged impatient glances. It was the younger that spoke this time. "I'm Draco Malfoy and this is my father, Lucius. Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter sent us."

Twenty-One: I Want You to Burn Five Days Earlier "I want the window seat!" "You're not in the depths of despair!" "I get woozy in the middle."

"That makes no sense." "Both of you, shut up! Harry's got the window seat, and you can have the other window seat, Albus." "But then we'll be separated by a row!" "Albus!" Albus crossed his arms worriedly, watching his friend glaring at him from his seat. He had only been trying to raise his spirits, but Harry seemed in no mood for it. In fact, the boy looked almost sick. But there was nothing Albus or Craig could do about it. Harry had made his decision. They had fought for hours, Harry insisting that Albus needed him and Albus insisting that Harry needed Edward. But Harry refused to let Albus gather their friends alone, especially when he knew Albus would have an extremely hard time with one particular friend. Harry knew Albus wouldn't be strong enough to face Gellert alone and he would be damned if he abandoned his lifelong friend in his time of need, even if it meant leaving Edward alone without an explanation. Edward would want to go with him and Harry was in no frame of mind to let Edward leave his family at such a time. Harry and Albus knew probably better than anyone how important family was. It was about four hours into the flight and Harry and Albus hadn't said anything to each other. Harry had commenced feeling sorry for himself while staring out the window, and Albus was reduced to twiddling his thumbs while Craig eyed him in exasperation. Craig was worried about Harry. Albus' goads had always seemed to get his mind off of anything and everything no matter how depressed he was. There was a time when Albus was all Harry needed and Harry was all Albus needed. Now Craig could actually see gray hair working its way into Harry's jet black mane, crow's feet forming by his eyes and the skin on his hands beginning to tighten. The weathering in his soul was beginning to show on the outside as well. "Oh, how the tables have turned," Craig whispered to himself. He moved to Harry's side, placing his own wrinkled hand atop Harry's

aging one. "Harry?" No answer. He tried again. No answer. He exhaled miserably. Harry and Albus' misery was beginning to reverberate off the walls. "What I wouldn't give to be human. At least humans can sleep away their desolation," Harry whispered, his eyes turning dark amber. SMACK! Harry jumped back so hard that the seat behind him broke, causing Craig to wince. He stared wide-eyed at the suddenly furious old man standing before him, massaging his hand idly and staring at Harry as if expecting an apology. Harry nodded slowly, leaning forward in his seat. "Alright, I'm sorry." "You should be." "What the hell just happened?" Craig moaned, rolling his eyes. "May I remind you that you are the one that had to come with us, Harry. I feel bad enough without your selfish brooding," Albus glared. Harry knew Albus was right. He always had a bad habit of 'suffering in silence', acting like a misunderstood youth at times whenever he entered hard times. The truth was, if anyone could understand how he felt, it would be Albus. And even worse, Albus had suffered worse than him because, unlike Harry, Albus had left the love of his life and never returned. Harry would return. He knew he would. But leaving Edward without a word had been harder than he had anticipated, even with the knowledge that he would return in a matter of weeks. He had a job to do. He had to protect the person he loved. All along he had been almost afraid that Edward would be the one to hurt him by leaving. Albus had sensed that self-sacrificing nature in him, but in the end Harry had been the one to leave for the greater good. He remembered his argument with Albus as soon as he and Edward parted ways, leaving while Edward and the Cullens were blissfully unaware of their intentions.

Albus had yelled at him for the first time in ages about leaving the love of his life at his most vulnerable. Harry had argued on the behalf of Albus whom he refused to let face his raw and hurting past alone. The other fact was that they had made a promise never to do something without the other. Any other way of doing it always ended with disaster. Besides, without Albus, there would be no one to convince Harry out of destroying the house when there was company arriving. But he felt the knowing in his chest when he thought of what Edward must have thought when he read his note, that Harry had abandoned him in his time of need. That he really was as spoiled, loathing and aloof as he seemed. Harry hoped that Edward knew him better than that, knew that he loved him enough to never do such a thing to him. Harry was never one for feeling as though he owed anyone anything, but Edward would need an explanation when he came back and Harry didn't know if his excuses would be enough. But he felt selfish. He had been away from Edward for not even a day and he was an emotional wreck. Albus was about to confront the only man he'd ever actually fallen in love with and left, and he was worrying about him. Albus seemed to read his mind. "We'll save that particular visit for last, shall we?" Harry almost snorted. "I suspect immediately following a visit to Spinner's End? That should raise your spirits enough for such a confrontation." "I think so, yes. He's always oh so happy to see us." Present Carlisle scrutinized the vampires in front of him. Both were very regal in appearance and their posture was impeccable. He couldn't help but think that the older of the two was more pompous in his address than the younger one. Both had striking platinum blond hair, well-chiseled features and pointed faces. Both were noticeably handsome, even by vampire standards. Their eyes were a glowing red.

Carlisle opened the door wide for the pair and they moved elegantly across the threshold. The occupants of the room stood to greet the newcomers, but the Malfoys didn't make any move to acknowledge them. They strode past them into the foyer, casting disinterested glances about the house, not looking impressed in the least. Lucius Malfoy carried with him a cane that clicked against the floor as he moved across it, sparing glances at the company. Draco Malfoy merely stood, as if waiting for a better greeting. Esme came to Carlisle's side, a nervous look on her face. Rosalie's lips were slightly parted in surprise at the sudden appearance of the pair and Emmett had moved protectively to her side. Jasper scrutinized them, not liking the way they seemed to be eager to disapprove of their surroundings and clasped Alice's hand in his. The Romanians, the Eygptians and the Denali coven merely stared in wonder at the newcomers. Their forms nearly reeked of danger. "I take it by your expressions that they neglected to tell you we were coming?" Lucius asked, finally ceasing movement in front of Carlisle. The smirk that spread across his face unnerved Carlisle to no end. The pair seemed far from the type of people Carlisle would expect Albus and Harry to be friendly with. Carlisle shook his head. "We haven't heard from them in nearly a week. They disappeared almost six days ago and no one knew why." Lucius and Draco exchanged glances again. "Well, Albus is nothing if not vague, but I wouldn't doubt the old man knows what he's doing," Lucius spoke Albus' name in an almost annoyed fashion. "In fact, not telling you might have made the whole situation that much more fun for him," Draco continued. "Did they contact you? What did they say?" Esme asked, eager for information on Albus and her would-be son-in-law. "Forgive me, madam. We have not yet been introduced," Lucius said, inclining his head expectantly at Carlisle. Carlisle saw the younger subtly roll his eyes at his father's attention to

tradition at such an urgent time. "Forgive me, Mr. Malfoy. This is my wife, Esme. My sons and daughters but one stand over there. The tall one is Emmett, and his wife Rosalie. Jasper and his wife Alice..." He continued, introducing the Denali coven and the rest of the occupants of the living room. He noticed that the Romanians were eying the Malfoys darkly and whispering lowly to each other. "My oldest, Edward, is away at the moment," Carlisle frowned at the interested smirk that spread across Draco's lips. Lucius smacked Draco upside the head, earning a scowl from his son. "Your childishness is far from amusing." "Excuse me… but how exactly did you meet Harry and Albus?" Esme asked curiously, still a little miffed at being so dismissed by the older Malfoy. Draco rolled his eyes. "Long story short…" Edward ran as fast as he could feeling more hope in his chest than he had in days. He gritted his teeth, ready to face Carlisle for the first time in days. Before, he hadn't had the courage to face Rosalie without exploding, but the new bought of information left him feeling more than ready to crush her hopes and dreams. Harry was coming back. It was almost uncanny that Edward hadn't thought of it before. It was the exact thing he would have done in a situation like that. Either way, Edward was going to give Harry one firm talking to once he got back. That was after he dragged him into the forest and do innumerable bad things to him for leaving him in agony without an explanation. He saw the lights from the house breaking through the darkness and swept faster through the trees, the makings of a smile beginning to break across his face. Harry's face was still in his head as he burst through the back door. "…Harry and I have had an ongoing fling for centuries. Started as a rather profound hatred, but I think it translated very well, considering."

Edward felt as if all his veins had closed up and his eyes narrowed as a pair of bright red eyes focused on him. The stranger with platinum blond hair who spoke of Harry was starring straight at him at that moment, his eyes widening with glee. Edward's own eyes narrowed, his knees beginning to bend and readied himself to attack the rather attractive blond. "Who. Are. You?" he hissed. Carlisle moved closer to him, supposedly to calm him but the only thing registering in Edward's mind was the smug and smirking boy in front of him, talking about Harry as if he belonged to him. "Edward, please…" Carlisle's voice was barely legible, as if listening through thick glass. "So this is Edward…" the blond boy smiled impishly, moving forward. Edward saw whom he presumed to be the father tilt his head and eye him with interest. "You are the one Potter all but threw us onto a plane to protect? How interesting," Lucius drawled pleasantly, nodding to Carlisle. Draco looked a little putout that his father had spoiled the secret already. He was hoping to get a rise out of the fiercely good-looking Edward that Harry was so crazy about. Crazy enough to refuse a rendezvous with himself, anyway. He'd had his doubts about Harry's pick for a mate and he couldn't figure out if he was happy or disappointed at how handsome Edward actually was. At least he knew he was losing his fuck buddy to a worthy opponent. But that didn't mean he was gonna let Edward get away without at least a few mind games. Draco got off on getting a rise out of people after all. Unfortunately, Edward was a little too distracted to detect such a thing, and in the end the only one who actually what was happening was Jasper. "Harry sent you?" Edward asked, his eyes suddenly on the elder blond man. He and his son were nearly identical. "He told me he was in a committed relationship… whatever have you done to him? Potter doesn't do relationships." Draco decided he didn't like the smug look on Edward's face.

"I guess he does this one," Edward smirked. Draco approached him. "You know, I never liked redheads. They're annoying… whiny, really. But for some reason, Harry always liked them. Thought they were loyal, or some such nonsense. What exactly is your draw, ginger? There must be something." Edward gritted his teeth at Draco, angry that he was questioning his appeal or Harry's affection for him. Draco knew he was riling Edward, which was exactly what he wanted. Harry had described Edward to a T, but Harry wasn't one to be drawn in only by looks. He could find lookers anywhere for a quick shag or otherwise. Draco wanted to know what Edward had that everyone else didn't. And to do that, he had to get Edward to react. "It can't be that you're good in bed, because he's had many talented lovers. Myself, included," Draco continued, watching in secret delight as Edward's eyes darkened considerably. "He's had brilliant ones and ones he just wanted to talk with. I'm sure your intellect is nothing he couldn't find elsewhere." He was getting close, he could tell. Edward's hands were closing into fists, and his perfect red lips were parting to reveal sharp white teeth practically salivating for a bite. "Does he sit still and just let you touch him? Lie next to you and talk your thoughts and feelings away?" "What bothers you more, short stuff? That I am better-looking, or that he wants me instead of you?" Draco bit his lip. There it was. Edward was powerful, handsome and, from what Harry had said, he had a brain on him. But there was something lurking just under his anger that instantly made Draco want him. Which was unfortunate, because he knew that if he even touched him in a suggestive manner, Harry would make it so that he could never seek pleasure in the same way again. "Easy, ginger. Just trying to make sure you're prepared for having Harry at your side for the rest of this eternity. Can't be losing my friend to anyone less than worthy." He quirked his brows in Edward's direction and Edward instantly knew he'd been played. Draco held out his hand to the boy. "You'd better be worth what I'm about to put myself through. If Harry wasn't so gone on you, I believe

I would kill you just to relieve him of the distraction." "What makes you think it'd be so easy?" Edward asked, taking the boy's hand even if he wasn't sure why. "Wouldn't be fun if it were easy," Draco smirked. Lucius rolled his eyes again, checking a timepiece on his wrist. "Better be prepared, then. I suspect our other company shall be arriving with the morning." He turned to Carlisle. "I don't suppose you have any extra dog cages lying about?" Three Days Earlier The Malfoys were a respectable family back in the day. Lucius Malfoy was something of a successful businessman. He was handsome, wealthy and had a gorgeous wife and son. Unfortunately, some would see being handsome and married as a crime, especially down on their luck single women. One of which happened to be a vampire woman that Lucius had slighted at a dinner party. The woman was the vampire Morgana, a vampire as old as sand that had never been turned down before. Narcissa Malfoy was a rare beauty and despite Lucius' cold and aloof exterior, he had only ever had eyes for her. Morgana wouldn't have it and the night following the dinner party, she murdered Narcissa cruelly before turning on Lucius and forcing him through the change. She hoped that once Lucius was a vampire, he would see her as a life companion. And it went her way for a little while. But Lucius was cunning and manipulative. He let her have him for a while, biding his time to learn just about all he would ever need to know about living this life after death. She fell in love with him and when she least expected it, he killed her. Tore her apart and burned the pieces. Afterward, he returned to the manor that he had once lived in. After his disappearance, leaving his young boy with his caretaker, Draco had grown into a young man, barely sixteen years old. Lucius was rather a selfish man and seeing his son who reminded him so much of Narcissa caused him a bit of a breakdown, resulting in Draco's

transition from human to vampire. Ironically enough, Draco and Harry had met at a dress shop where Draco went regularly for tailored suits and the like. Harry and Albus had just moved back into the English countryside after their most recent dormancy and had found that certain articles of clothing were no longer in style. Albus was more excited about the new color dyes available for his own wardrobe. It could be said that their eyes met through the window and it was lust at first sight. But before there was lust, there was ardent dislike, which turned out to be sexual frustration on ice. It didn't take long before the two had everything in that area figured out. Draco was looking for a lay that wouldn't break at the slightest touch and Harry was just what the doctor ordered. Dark, brooding, and aloof. But it had been quite a while since Harry had last seen Draco. A few hundred years at least. His symbiotic relationship with Draco came in handy after his unfortunate relations with Gabrielle and Draco always seemed to spice things up and make them seem not as bad as they actually were. Harry didn't know if he was looking forward to seeing his friend again or not. He knew Draco would be expecting something that Harry was in no position to give any longer, and that would not help his case. But he hoped that his friendship with him would mean enough to Draco to help him. If not, then Harry had other means of persuasion that would come in good use. He eyed the manor with a critical eye. The Malfoys were always a tad bit gaudy for Harry's taste, but the antique nature of the mansion brought him comfort. Despite the vastly changing world around him, some things would always remain the same. Sometimes Harry thought that vampires existed purely to keep some of the old traditions alive. The Malfoys were one such family that would never change. They were bound by traditions and Harry and Albus loved them for it. Harry often wondered why he had never fallen in love with Draco. There were plenty of aspects that would have made him a very desirable match. Perhaps it was all in the timing. They had met when

Harry really had no desire to settle down, and a mindless fling was all he would need to carry through another hundred years. Besides, Harry and Draco could only stand to be around each other for so long before they remembered exactly what they didn't like about the other. Harry smirked as he thought about Draco's reaction once he realized that Harry would never be available for another convenient fuck ever again. Draco sipped from his glass once again, sitting comfortably in the tearoom of the manor. His latest shag and snack lay limp and bloodless on the floor. Whatever blood the boy had contained had been drained and the remnants were currently residing in Draco's antique fluted champagne glass. The door opened quietly, barely disturbing him from his concentration. He expected that it might just be his father, but a familiar smell drifted into the room. There was only one person on the planet that smelled so acutely of lilies and Draco knew instantly who had just arrived. He looked up from his book to find a face he hadn't seen in centuries standing at the door. "Fuck." Harry smiled sardonically in return. "Been there, done that." "Never got the T-shirt, though, I'm afraid." Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm not here for propositions." "That's very presumptuous of you," Draco chuckled, closing the book with a snap before laying it on the table. Harry spared a look around the room. "You rebuilt the manor." "Had to. Lucius would stay nowhere else." "And you're entertaining guests," Harry scrunched his nose in disgust at the body of a teenage boy lying bloodless and pale on the floor, the echo of a scream on his face. Draco regarded the body disinterestedly, pulling a cover off one of the chairs to shield it. "He won't mind, I promise." Draco approached Harry, a seductive smile on his face.

Harry frowned. "I mean it. I'm in a committed relationship." Draco slowed for a second, scrutinizing the boy before him. His eyes narrowed at the bare honesty on Harry's face. "You're pulling my dick." "Seriously." "Merlin's balls. Is that mutt here too?" Draco looked over Harry's shoulder, looking for something before turning frustrated to his book again, moving it to a nearby shelf. "This isn't a haven for you scavengers, numb nuts." "He's not here. He's next on the list, though." Draco smirked. "I'm the first? How thoughtful of you." "Like I said, I didn't come here for that kind of a favor. I need your help. Yours and your father's." Draco folded his arms, leaning against the bookshelf, his lean figure standing out blatantly against the dark room. "Who is it?" "Who?" "Don't fuck with me. Who's your new lover?" Draco drawled, taking a sip from the glass on the coffee table filled with blood. Harry shook his head. Draco always liked to stick with the traditions. "His name is Edward." Draco's eyes narrowed as he heard the tender way Harry spoke his name. "My God, Potter… you're in love," Draco stated in awe. "I never thought I'd see the day after that Gabrielle catastrophe." Harry exhaled in annoyance at the mention of her name. "Actually, she's kind of the reason I need your help." "Shut up. She didn't fuck him did she?" Draco looked almost eager. "No. She's set the Volturi on him and his family," Harry growled. Draco was silent for a moment and promptly started laughing. "I did tell you. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. On what grounds? I doubt Aro is going to call the armada out on them because Gabrielle

feels jilted. Wasn't that… yes… over two thousand years ago?" "Yes, it was," Harry replied evenly. "Talk about a bint that can't get over a breakup. What's he like?" "What?" "Eddie! What's he like? Keep up, man!" "He'll kill you if you call him that." "Let's hope we never meet then." "Actually, I'm hoping you'll meet quite soon. I've booked you and Lucius a flight on the next plane to Seattle. It leaves tomorrow." Draco blinked. Then he blinked again. "I don't suppose the punch line is coming any time soon?" "There is no punch line, darling," Harry smiled serenely. "And I don't even get a fuck out of this?" Harry shook his head, the unnerving smile still planted on his face. "I demand an explanation," Draco snapped, getting very close to Harry's face. "Fine. He's got bronze hair, very tall, chiseled jaw, impeccable form and very talented," Harry emphasized the last part with a slight drop in his voice that Draco found almost sensuous. Draco raised a brow, before nodding thoughtfully. "Acceptable…" He was centimeters away from the shorter boy's face, gently brushing their noses together. "Is he as good as me?" "Better." Draco frowned. "Experienced, is he?" "Not at all." Draco raised his glass of blood. "Cheers." He drained it in one gulp

and swallowed as if it were tar. Harry patted his head, letting his fingers twine through his hair. "You're right. I'm not one for relationships because I never seem to be able to find someone I can put up with for that much time." Draco smirked. "But I have, and I would take this time to ask that you please help me out and save the love of my life from certain death and destruction." Draco swallowed. "If that's the case, I'm afraid I have no choice but to travel halfway across the world to see what kind of an Adonis you seem to have procured for yourself. You can convince me but you'll have a hell of a time getting my father to agree." "Albus is taking care of it." Draco's eyes widened. He licked his lips again, purring slightly as Harry's hands caressed his scalp. "You're paying for his therapy. Albus can get him to agree to something and he won't know he did until the bill arrives." "That Albus is a talented man. Glad he's on my side," Harry smiled widely. "There's also the issue of Marcus, but I'm afraid that will have to wait. The Cullens will fill you in." Draco nodded. "Ah, Marcus. How nice it will be to have the family back together again." "If by 'family', you mean Albus, myself, the Cullens and Marcus, then yes. The family will be together." Present William watched as his twin brothers' eyes strayed to Bella, who looked dumbstruck at the large red eyes that stared her down as if she were suddenly nothing more than a delectable piece of meat. His protective instincts suddenly overhauled his shock and he moved to block Bella from their view. What on earth were they doing there? How did they find him? But they looked at him as if they were genuinely happy to see him. He took the time to mull over the appearances of his brothers. Time had done nothing to change the identical faces of the two red-headed

twins. Same mop-ish red hair, same smoldering red eyes, still tall, lanky, and skin the color of marble. One of them, William knew was Fred, smirked and spoke. "Well, aren't you going to say anything?" "Welcome us in, perhaps?" George finished. William's eyes narrowed, and the twin grins were wiped off his brothers' faces. Where did they get off just showing up out of nowhere and acting like nothing had happened? He almost smiled at still being able to evoke such nervousness in the twins. "Where the hell have you been?" William growled, watching in satisfaction as both faces suddenly acquired suitably guilty expressions. "We wanted to stay Bill, you know that." "But you always had more self control than us..." "…and we were tired of disappointing you all the time." "There, we said it," they finished together. Same old Fred and George, William thought fondly. "William? It's inappropriate to keep guests on the front porch. Let them in, will you?" William flinched at the calm tone that Fleur addressed him with. He opened the door slightly, noticing that Fleur had moved to Bella's side. Even if she didn't like the girl, it would be cruel of her to let her die in such a way. Fred and George sidled into the foyer, their eyes on Bella like a cat's on a mouse. Bella moved behind Fleur nervously. "Keeping humans in your house, Billy?" "Didn't know you cared that much." William glared pointedly at the two. "She's a friend of the family. And may I remind you that I still don't know what you're doing here?" The twins exchanged glances. "We heard from some friends of yours

that you had gotten into some kind of trouble with the authority." "As it turns out, we are masters in that department." "But you already knew that," they finished together and William once again had to fight a smile. "These friends, do you remember their names?" Fleur cut in. Fred and George whistled together, eying Fleur up with lecherous grins on their faces. "Damn, Billy." "Introduce us to your friend." "That would be my mate, brothers." The twins eyed up the woman in front of them who seemed to be staring down her nose at them. "Is it cold in here?" George asked suddenly, feeling a bit of a breeze. "Well then, how about your other friend?" Their eyes were back on Bella who seemed for once frightened by the devilish grins and sharp teeth gleaming in her direction. In seconds, they were on either side of her and Bella stiffened uncontrollably. William moved toward her. "Easy Billy, we're just being friendly." "We're all about making friends. All kinds of friends really." Bella's eyes narrowed at them as they reached for her, backing away with gritted teeth that were clattering with fear. "Fred, George! Stop this immediately or I swear I will kick you out of this house and make sure you never come anywhere near me again!" William growled, hardly believing he was going to banish his beloved brothers so quickly. But if indeed they had resurfaced and not changed at all, then it would only be a matter of time before they disappeared again, anyway. Fred and George spared a look at their brother and William saw the blatant mischief in their eyes. The eyes were still red, but duller, the color they would have been for a vampire that hadn't had human

blood in a long while. "Perhaps we need to explain ourselves." "That would be ideal," Fleur drawled, still not caring for the pair who had hurt and abandoned her mate so long ago. William was very good at hiding his feelings from others and it had taken Fleur a long time to break the shield he'd placed over his heart as a result of the twins' betrayal. "We're clean, Bill." "Going on eight months. It's not much, but it's something." "Had a bit of an epiphany, if you will." "Well, not so much of an epiphany as much as a good hit in the head." "It was just like the old days when mom would smack us around to get a point across." "Never worked though…" They pondered together. "I don't… how did you even find us?" William finally asked the question that had been bugging him since they arrived. "We met your friends. Quite unexpectedly though. I don't think they intended to find us." "Yeah. Said they were friends of yours, though we're wondering how you even met them. They're older than water!" William smiled to himself as he thought of Albus and Harry miraculously running across his wayward brothers on their way to wherever they were going. But how could they know that they were related? The twins anticipated him, and answered quickly. "That old man just looked at us and called us out right away. It was weird. It's like he lives with one foot in this world and the other in some other one that magically contains all the answers…" William laughed, and Fleur had a growing smile on her face. Bella was a bit more relaxed since the twins had backed away from her

and announced they had no intention of killing her, or eating her for that matter. "Funny guy. I liked him. And the younger one was intense. Where the heck did you find them?" There was a knock on the door. "We're having a FAMILY MOMENT HERE!" The twins cried out, looking at the door in almost comical outrage. "Blast it all, who is it now?" William muttered, thinking he'd had his fill of surprises for one day. He wrenched the door open. "Can I help you?" "Are you aware of a large nest of Blibbering Humdingers in your backyard?" William blinked. "I beg your pardon?" Fred squeezed in beside him. "Bumbling Hooby What-sis?" "Please excuse my friend, she's a bit socially awkward." William eyed the slight platinum blond girl and the tall dark boy that stood beside her. "…and you are?" "Friends of Harry's. He said he needed our assistance with Volticons and grape rotfrangs." "That's the Volturi and ex-girlfriends. Pardon me, I'm Blaise and this rather unfortunate travel partner is Luna. Harry sent us. There will be more here around noon tomorrow but unfortunately they missed the flight." "And Blaise didn't want to ride with the rest of them anyway. He's not very fond of werewolves and shirtlifters." "Shapeshifters, Luna. Werewolves and Shapeshifters." William sighed, a smile breaking across his face. Perhaps the world wasn't coming to an end after all. He had to call Carlisle immediately. Present

Albus stared across the large lake, the dark waters glittering ominously. He could just make out a rock-like structure that pierced the grey sky across the water, looking miles away. He knew he had found it. He could feel it. "I suppose we're going for a swim, then?" His best friend's voice comforted him, bringing out of his stupor that had invaded his mind as soon as he had caught sight of the prison. His prison. The one he had chosen to seclude himself in for all time, wallowing in loneliness and betrayal. Albus almost feared seeing his face again, but Harry had talked him into it. It was time. "I'll go first, if you wish," Harry whispered, his voice almost drowned by swells of the ocean. "Last time you spoke to him, you said he would never see you again." Harry shrugged. "I'm not against being proven wrong, as you well know. It was my idea anyway. If you wish me to do the talking, then I will. Don't act like you weren't forced." Albus didn't know if he was ready. He scoffed at himself. Almost six thousand years and he still wasn't ready. He prided himself on having better composure than this, but he couldn't help himself. Only two people in the world had ever been able to steal his confidence and live. One was at his side. The other was just across the water.

Twenty-Two: When You See My Face… Jacob shook himself for the seventh time that day, feeling a weird tingling under his skin. He'd been feeling it off and on for the past week, the feeling getting more and more powerful by the day. Something was happening and it was right under his nose, but for the life of him he couldn't figure out what it was, or even what business of his it was. He ended up on his motorcycle, heading down the highway toward Forks and bound for Harry and Albus' house. He immediately knew that it was the place he was supposed to be, because not only was Bella's truck in the driveway, but there seemed

to be something of a gathering going on that he wasn't invited to. He knew by the stench that most of the visitors would be vampires, but he smelt something else as well. It couldn't be… "What do we have here?" Jacob turned quickly, and was faced with a tall, pale woman with long wild black hair and a twisted smile upon her face. One sniff and he knew she was a vampire, but it didn't matter because a second later all he could see was darkness. Bella felt thoroughly out of place amongst the plethora of vampires that seemed to be growing by the second. She had been confined to a corner chair by William and seemed unable to get away from the terrible twins who refused to leave her alone. They asked her too many questions but didn't seem to require an answer. In fact, they answered most of their own questions for themselves, and in the end almost seemed to be ignoring her. She definitely wasn't used to being so attentively ignored. "How'd you meet Billy?" "Surely he wasn't on the hunt for human friends?" "So did you seek him out then?" "Couldn't resist the charm of a tall redhead?" "Is that why Frenchie doesn't like you? You're trying to steal her man away?" "If we were you, we'd give up now because Billy is nothing if not the most loyal bastard you'll ever meet." "And he doesn't date outside his own species." "Poor you," they finished together. Bella groaned to herself. They had stopped looking at her as if she were a piece of meat, but their red glowing eyes still made her nervous. It was a little disconcerting that they sat on either side of her with devilish grins on both of their faces. Either way she looked, the

same face was before her. Bella was about to make a smart comment to get them to leave her alone, but before she could open her mouth, someone caught her arm and pulled her away from the pair. For that she was very grateful until she saw exactly who had pulled her away. Bella had thought that Albus might have been the most unusual person she had ever met, but she stood corrected as she stared into the swirling gold eyes of the dreamy blonde vampire. She looked at Bella as if she wasn't really seeing her, but looking straight through her. Plus, her very demeanor gave Bella chills and suddenly she was covered in goose flesh. "Am I making you nervous? I promise not to eat you, though you do smell delicious. I just thought you could use a friend, especially because no one here seems to care for you." Bella gaped at the girl's blunt attitude and was suddenly wishing to be back in the twins' company. "I didn't mean to insult you. Harry mentioned something about you, but I think mostly he was concerned about Edward. Are you a friend of his? I only ask because Harry usually doesn't entertain human company." "I… yes, we're friends from school…" Bella felt it best to answer her questions and then leave as quickly as possible. The blonde's eyes seemed to be digging into her very soul and Bella was struggling to figure out why it was almost painful. "School, you say?" Luna's lips turned in a way that Bella thought resembled a frown, but she couldn't be sure. "I can't imagine Harry would need to learn anything from humans, unless of course it was a magical school, you know. Which would explain all the nargles crawling in your hair." Bella officially declared the girl insane. "Bella!" She turned and saw Alice running up to her. She breathed a sigh of relief. Though she appreciated very much that Albus and Harry cared enough to send their friends to help, she couldn't imagine how Luna

could be any way helpful. The look on Alice's face wasn't good. "Anything about Harry and Albus?" Bella asked hopefully. Alice shook her head. "Albus is blocking me, which isn't a surprise. He wouldn't want us to know what their plans are especially if the Volturi get here before they do." Bella gulped. "And what are the chances of that?" Alice shrugged. "Hopefully slim." "Hopefully?" Alice frowned. Bella felt a twist in her stomach and she wondered for a while if she shouldn't call Charlie and make sure he was in a safe place. In fact, she wondered if she hadn't put just about everyone in Forks in a great deal of danger. The back of her neck was prickling and she shifted her eyes slowly to as not to alert the person staring at her that she had noticed. But he knew. The regal blond vampire who had been with the Cullens before Bill and Fleur had brought her there was starring hardly at her. Her dark red eyes were boring holes into the back of her head. She didn't want to look at him especially because he looked like he might be ready to jump her at any second. Definitely not in a good way either. He was glaring at her. Like he wanted to kill her. Alice stepped in front of her to growl at the blond boy but he didn't seem even moderately fazed. And to Bella's great horror, he began to advance. "So, you're the reason we're all risking our lives to protect. How sickening. Did you never learn in horror movies that vampires are enemies, not friends?" Bella was too gripped by fear to reply but luckily Alice still had perfect use of her voice box. "We can definitely take care of ourselves, bleach head. Best if you run along or risk ruining your wax job," she snarled. Draco rolled his

eyes. "Don't be fresh, little girl. Harry asked to me to be here and so I am. Besides, it'll take more than your knowledge of the future to keep the Volturi from tearing you apart, don't you think?" "We wouldn't be having any of these problems if Gabrielle had never showed up," Jasper whispered from a couch on the far end of the room. Everyone knew how he felt about anyone or anything endangering the people he loved. Fleur bristled as she overheard the conversation. "If your brother hadn't angered her in the first place, she wouldn't have felt the need to involve the Volturi." "And if Harry and Albus never come here, then she wouldn't have come here and then we wouldn't be in this mess!" Jasper stood up, and the rest of the room turned to find out what was happening. Carlisle pursed his lips in discomfort. At Jasper's declaration, Edward started to get angry. "This isn't Harry's nor Albus' fault!" "Quite right. If this little human had never thought it prudent to make a nuisance of herself, then that takes the blame from Harry, Albus, Gabrielle, and perhaps even the Volturi. The only one that wasn't following the rules was you, darling." Draco's voice was low and disturbingly sweet as continued his gaze at Bella, who was starting to squirm. "So if we all die from this war, it will be a comfort to know that it was all to keep a human alive, who might I add may very likely die afterwards anyway." The sarcasm was almost tangible as he spoke. "Sign me up," Fred and George echoed Draco's enthusiasm. "Hate to say it but pony-boy is right. She's a human with the mortality rate of a fish fetus." "I wish Albus was here," Alice whispered. Edward wished the same thing. Then there was a…scratch…at the door. "Holy hell, who is it now?"

"Three guesses and the first two don't count," Draco muttered and went to stand by his father who had been quietly observant the entire time. No doubt Lucius could have put his two cents in, but it wouldn't have done much good. Harry had once saved Draco's life and therefore he was bound to help in any way he could. He never imagined it would be aiding a human against the Volturi. Edward walking warily to the door, but stopped as soon as he heard another scratch. He was willing to bet it was Jacob, but then it occurred to him that Jacob wouldn't walk into a house of vampires as a werewolf. He knew better. Plus, he would have smelt something. He opened the door and a second later he was on the ground with a rather large black dog atop his chest, peering down at him with sparkling brown eyes. However, they quickly dimmed as though expecting someone else. He made to get up, but the dog was especially strong. On the other side of the dog, he heard the soft footsteps of a man. "Black's house of pain, how can we hurt you?" Edward looked up to see a tall thin sandy-haired smiling widely at him, amused at Edward's situation. The man looked up and his wide smile disappeared. "Malfoy, how are you?" "I've been better," Draco grumbled. "Honestly, Lupin. How long are you going to let him maul unsuspecting hosts without punishment? You were a man of propriety once," Lucius scolded. The dog growled. "Down boy," Lucius smiled. The next Edward knew, the dog was no longer a dog, and a fullygrown man was seated atop him looking very comfortable indeed with no intentions of releasing him. "No need to fuss, Lucy. We've got you a present!" The next person that entered made Lucius' eyes widen. "Oh my… you shouldn't have." Harry made it to the mainland before Albus. He shook the water off

himself and ran his hands through his hair distractedly as he peered up the mountainous rocks. There was not a speck of life on the jagged terrain, but he supposed that if it were a pleasant place then it would defeat Gellert's wish for ultimate solitude. It had been Harry's idea to fetch him in the first place, despite Albus' protests. He knew that in order to stop the Volturi once and for all, it would take something completely unexpected. Gellert was nothing if not unexpected. There was a time when life was still simple that Harry resented Gellert for taking so much of Albus' time while Harry himself had no one. It wasn't that he didn't feel included, because Albus would have strung himself up if Harry had ever voiced such a thing. For just over ten centuries, it had always been Harry and Albus and no one else was good enough to infiltrate their little twosome. Gellert was an exception because Albus felt the pull. Edward was the exception because Harry felt the pull. No matter how many other friends they had, it was always just Harry and Albus. It was comfortable and safe, because they knew that they would never betray the other. Harry knew that once he entered the doors to Nurmengard, their twosome would be breached. Edward had been a break, but only one Harry's side. Gellert would break them wide open and Harry wasn't sure he was ready for it. There was a splash and in seconds Albus was at Harry's side. Harry spared a look at his friend and promptly snorted. Albus turned to him in an almost nervous manner. "Too much? I… I thought that perhaps it would be better to look as I did the last he saw me." Albus was back to shaggy red-brown hair and sparkling blue eyes and slight stubble on his much younger face, looking no older than perhaps his late thirties. "I think you should look the way you feel most comfortable. You don't have to prove anything to anyone, Albus." Harry winced. "You know, I'd rather you go back to being your know-it-all self because I feel odd advising you what to do about your love life." Albus frowned and a second later, he was back to his old self. He

licked his lips, and tucked his beard into his belt. "Are you ready?" "I'm ready to get this over with." "I really appreciate you being here for this. I know how little you care for him. Please go easy on him though. We won't have any hope if you try to win him over with your charming personality." "I never do anything with the hopes of winning people over. I could skip that if I really wanted to and get right to the torture." "That's what I'm afraid of." Marcus didn't care for the girl standing before him. She was beautiful to be sure, but there was something in her manners that irked him terribly. He hadn't bothered to even acknowledge her before when Heidi showed her in to the main ballroom. Aro and Caius were most welcoming, but like so many others, she had failed to call his interest. He hadn't received a reply from Albus or Harry in response to his own letter, and he was beginning to worry. Perhaps Craig had had trouble finding them, or they were holding out on their answer. Albus might have been one to play games, but Marcus couldn't fathom him wanting to mess around and play hard to get with a letter that Marcus had penned so seriously. He had made it a point to be at least two arms' lengths away from Aro at all times because of this reason. It had been over a month. As far as he could tell, the blonde was speaking rather heatedly about the Cullens and how they had been flaunting their identity to a human girl, even killing other vampires and publicly exposing themselves to others for her protection. He wasn't sure how such a feat would make her angry since she was obviously an animal-eater, but either way, she was feeding Aro everything he needed to form an assault on the Cullen clan. It wouldn't have been hard to do so since Aro had been looking for a reason to threaten them for some time, especially since they had so much talent in their little group. Caius was furious, but at least he wasn't eating out of her hand as Aro was. He stood aside with Marcus and sneering at her. "Well, they must have done something truly terrible for her to come to us about it.

She must know that if we leave Volterra, we intend to leave bodies in our wake." Marcus nodded noncommittally, his eyes wavering from the conversation. He already knew the outcome. A trip to America might do him good, as well as be a wonderful opportunity to say goodbye to his friends and start his life elsewhere in solitude. His plans weren't as bright as before, but he felt confident that Craig would find him when a reply came, if one came at all. He had wondered if Harry and Albus would have forgiven him once they received his letter. It was looking even grimmer by the day. He hated to think that they might have gotten it, but perhaps not cared for him anymore. "Please, my name is Gabrielle Delacour. I saw it myself. They are telling people about us without any kind of delicacy. It's forbidden, is it not?" The blonde continued on, and Aro was nodding sympathetically, as if the girl were sacrificing a great deal in giving the Cullens up. Marcus saw the malicious glint in Aro's eyes and rolled his own. "It's about time we got some evidence about what those Cullens are doing over there. I always said not drinking real blood makes you crazy," Caius murmured into Marcus' ear, watching in grim satisfaction as a malicious smile spread across Aro's face. Marcus licked his lips. It was getting close to time to feed. And he had a mysterious urge to swallow the tattletale blonde whole. After the girl had finished her accusations, Aro had Heidi escort her to a room to stay until they were ready to leave. Aro approached Marcus and Caius. "Well. It seems that the Cullens have been up to no good. Just as I always suspected. I'm certain they intend to destroy the race with their fraternizing with humans. We all know the rules." He eyed Marcus as if expecting him to make a remark to dissuade him. Marcus merely shrugged. After all, what had the Cullens ever done to earn favor with them? Other than that one time so long ago that Carlisle had mentioned a run in with Albus and Harry. Marcus had

always been curious whatever had come of that. Albus and Harry rarely showed up in places in which other vampires ran wild. What a coincidence… "We should march immediately. I want an end to this resilience in the west. Put a stop to vampires only feeding from animals. It's ridiculous and fosters unnecessary tenderness towards humans. It's sickening, really," Caius snarled. "The wives…" His eyes flickered to Marcus who remained stoic as always. "Athenodora and Sulpicia, the guard, everyone. This must end." "They do have the girl, the one that tells the future. Perhaps they will see us coming. That is wise then, since this is not a friendly visit. They will want reinforcements." Marcus toned down the conspirators, and turned his eyes to the starfilled sky just outside of the window. Didyme would have hated this. But she was gone. Besides, Marcus wouldn't be involved much longer. Somewhere in the dark, holed up in a stuffy corridor and surveying the pulsing tides, sat a man with blood red lips and eyes that stood out shockingly from the shadows. The salt was sour in his nostrils and he cracked his long fingers restlessly as he stared at the violent swells. Normally he wouldn't bother with the window. It always beheld the same scene, the water reflecting the restlessness of his heart. Sometimes it was calm, but then the calmness was taken over when the clouds started to darken and the tide picked up, and before long the waves were crashing violently against the rock that held him captive. By choice, of course. This day was different though. There was a scent on the wind that he hadn't experienced in centuries. It was probably a trick of the mind, but it hardly mattered anymore. He wouldn't pull himself away from the window. It was the closest he'd been to real happiness since the day of his imprisonment. And then there was another. Lilies. He blinked. It was too close to be a coincidence. He had an exceptionally cruel imagination, but this was too close to the scents of

two certain former friends to be merely a trick of the mind. Then the scent was overpowering. Harry had to admit that the anticipation was killing him. He wondered for a while what it would be like to ever see Gellert Grindelwald again. What would he look like? Was he still the handsome young man that caught Albus' attention and affection? Was he still in love with Albus? Or had the betrayal eaten away any kind of regard he had for the old man and resigned him to living in a life of solitude after witnessing all the ways in which love might not be worth the pain and worse… the humiliation. Harry knew for sure as soon as he stepped into the rock that Gellert knew he was there. It was probably better in any case. Harry was powerful, but he knew it was probably a bad idea to try and surprise the concealed and dormant vampire. He knew when he was getting close. The air became thicker and even with Harry's better-than-most strength he found it hard to keep moving at the same speed with gravity began to multiply. He imagined if he had been human, not only would he be crawling, but he would also probably be suffocating. The air was dry, stuffy, heavy, and Harry's anticipation was quickly becoming anxiousness. Fresh air was by no means a necessity for a vampire, but it was definitely preferable. He couldn't imagine being shut up in a place like this, especially with Gellert's apparent moodiness that was altering the rate of gravity. He saw the end of the corridor with a room off to the right. No doors. He pushed himself to move faster, hoping to get this over with sooner rather than later. If he couldn't get Gellert to help them, then Albus definitely could. Unless of course Harry deemed Gellert to be worthless in his current state. "What are you doing here?" Harry stopped, looking around. He hadn't even made it to the threshold he was sure that Gellert resided past. The voice was different than he remembered, but he had anticipated that as well. He rolled his eyes.

"I have no time for your games, Grindelwald." Harry imagined many things in regards to how Gellert would receive him. He had entertained thoughts of insanity, but that was mostly just for his own amusement. It wasn't until that moment that he thought it was actually a possibility. A dark chuckle, but no answer, filled the corridor. Harry licked his lips, only to find that his tongue was dry. He was uncomfortable enough without being in such a place that seemed to foster the least amount of comfort. And suddenly, he felt lighter than air. So much so, he was actually floating. "Gellert! Stop this at once!" He received no response and a second later he came crashing to the ground so quickly his body created an indentation in the stone. But that wasn't it. He was pinned to the ground with more strength than he could handle. He gritted his teeth. Albus wasn't ready for any kind of insanity or anger that Gellert might be feeling, so it was definitely down to him to make sure that this talk went as smoothly as possible. He hadn't meant to start the reunion by hurting Gellert in anyway, but he was beginning to realize it might be the only way to bring the prisoner back to earth. "Grindelwald…" He ground out. "Stop now or I promise you'll regret it. You know what I can do to you…" It came out as a grave whisper, but he was certain the man could hear him, wherever he was. Suddenly the weight lifted, and Harry lifted his head quickly as a familiar scent swept over him. He was close. At the end of the hall, a figure in a cloak stood. The hood covered his face completely, and if Harry wasn't sure of the scent, he would have thought the figure was a mere mirage. In all honesty, Harry hadn't expected Gellert to let up so quickly. Perhaps he wasn't quite as mad as Harry presumed. Perhaps he was just making sure. "Grindelwald…" Harry murmured. The last he'd seen him, he was lying defeated on the ground, a hollow look in his eyes that only came

from being betrayed by his true love. Harry couldn't imagine what it must have felt like. Perhaps that was why he was so wary of relationships. He couldn't relate at the moment, but he feared a day that he might. The figure said nothing. Instead, he moved with an enviable fluidity through the doorway on the right. Harry followed, not feeling any trepidation at that moment. Gellert stopped at a window carved out of the stone at the other side of the room, peering out but not making any movements at all. Suddenly a horrible smell filled Harry's nose. The moon looming in from the hole in the wall illuminated the corner of the room, and Harry noted in horror that it was full of bad meat with the bones still attached. "By God, this is disgusting…" Once again, he was answered with silence. He sighed, and approached the turned man, his feet hitting various broken objects as he advanced. He refused to look down should he find he was walking across something worse than bones. When he reached the man's side, he looked out to find the window giving full view of the front of the structure, and of the entrance that he went through. Harry found why Gellert was ignoring him. Albus stood on the wooden pier that was quickly rotting beneath his feet. Harry knew he must have felt Gellert's gaze, but even so, he didn't turn. He was fixed on the swells of the tide. Harry figured the man would not choose to speak until he was good and ready, so he merely stood there beside him and allowed him to take in the turned back of the love he lost so many centuries ago. Given the time to actually think, Harry's mind wandered back to everything he had left behind and all the things he was fighting for. Standing next to a man who had literally lost everything he had ever loved, Harry began to realize just how easy it might be to lose everything that he held dear as well. It was indeed the reason that Harry never wished to make friends, especially with others who were far less capable of protecting

themselves than Harry and Albus were. But he couldn't imagine letting everything he had gained go anymore. He wondered if the Malfoys had made it to Forks yet. Sirius, Remus and Teddy. James and Lily. The twins. Blaise and Luna. Ronald and Hermione. Thinking back, it was probably a bad idea to send Bellatrix their way. Her hatred for werewolves rivaled that of Caius, but he hoped that Jacob would be able to defend himself. There was hardly a way to keep Bellatrix excluded from anything that involved going against the Volturi. That left the man beside him to negotiate. Harry had thought he wouldn't be all that hard of a task, but judging from the fact that he couldn't feel a single emotion coming from Gellert, it might be harder than that. Harry entertained thoughts of what Edward would make of Draco when he first met him. He hoped that Draco didn't do anything stupid in an effort to seem superior, but he was almost certain that he would. Draco had a more mature side to him when he got a feel for the severity of a situation, but right off the bat Draco would first try to get a feel for the competition. It didn't help that he also had an irrational dislike for redheads. Harry missed Edward, more than he thought he could miss a person. When he actually had time to think about it, his heart ached with withdrawal, which was why he decided that keeping himself busy with the job at hand was the best course of action. If he didn't allow himself to think about it, he was okay. Otherwise, he and Gellert might have been in the same state of mind. But he would never know unless Gellert actually decided to start talking. "You're being awfully patient, Ryynan. That is unlike you." Gellert's voice was nothing but a whisper. Harry hadn't heard his real name in forever it seemed. It didn't seem to be his anymore, but it was also very comforting to hear. "People change." There was no answer. Harry peered down at his friend that still had not acknowledged that he was being watched. "Obviously you change. The Gellert Grindelwald I knew wouldn't allow himself to be holed up in this stuffy rock for any length of time."

Silence. "But then I've always observed that even the most stubborn of people change once they lose something they never expected to." Silence. Harry stopped talking. Gellert didn't seem to get the feeling that Harry was in a hurry and had no time to waste. Gabrielle had probably long since arrived at the Volterra and that meant there were only a few previous weeks to get everything together and get back to Forks. Aro wasn't one to waste time, especially when his thirst for blood was pushed to certain heights. The fact that Edward and Alice had much desired powers wouldn't help matters. Harry wondered if Gabrielle would mention that he and Albus were there. That would certainly deter the Volturi's decision to make the trip. "Why are you here?" The voice was no louder than the wind. "I don't suppose you could make a guess?" "No. The last I saw you, you made it clear we would never meet again." "I'm not against being proven wrong. It's been happening increasingly over the past few months," Harry smiled bitterly. But it was true. Harry's last words to Gellert were by no means kind or subtle. Harry had to be harsh to make sure that no hope was left in Gellert's mind. He was ashamed of what he had said, but he knew there was no other way. 'Gellert lay in a field of blood, refusing to look around him even hours after Albus had left. He heard footsteps, and he knew who it would be. But even that face would cause him pain when he considered how much he had lost that day. Doing what he thought his true love wanted. What he thought he wanted. "What mess, Grindelwald. You've substituted disarray with complete destruction." Ryynan stepped over the body of a young boy, his face half torn off. Ryynan sighed, and turned the boy's scarred face so the ground would cover the sight. "Better procure a spade. It will be hard to explain this away." Gellert said nothing. In so many ways, his will and ability to speak had been stripped from him.

Ryynan licked his lips. "Listen here, Gellert. I don't like having to say this especially to a friend, but you'd be wise to hear me out, even if you don't acknowledge it. We're leaving here, Albus and I, and we're never coming back. You do what you wish once this has blown over, but I warn you that if you follow us I will kill you." "After this day, Albus is going to forget he ever laid eyes on you and never think of you again. You are a black spot on his mind, and I will not have it. Albus deserves better than someone who craves power more than true love. You know that's what happened here, do you? Greed. Your lust for power outweighs your love for Albus and he deserves much much better. If you want what's best for him, you'll leave him alone." Gellert felt as though his soul was being drawn out through his mouth with every word Ryynan spoke. But even so, every ounce of pain he felt gave way to numbness. And in some ways, that was so much worse. "But I hope you remember everything as vivid as it happened, Grindelwald. And I hope you realize that this is for the best. But all things considered, Albus should have known such a young person as yourself could never love him the way he needed to be." Gellert growled, his anger filtering through. "And who could ever love someone as manipulative as he?" As soon as he said it, he knew it wasn't true. "Who could ever love someone as bloodthirsty as you?" And Gellert said nothing. "Don't expect to see either of us again, Gellert. I think any friendship beyond this point would be too foolish to perpetuate." Gellert continued his silence until long after Ryynan disappeared into the fires. Along with everything he wanted. And then he knew all he ever really wanted was Albus. All the power in the world couldn't make up for the lack of him.' Harry knew that his sudden plea might fall on deaf ears, but Gellert at least needed to know that he wanted to retract his aforementioned statement. It seemed selfish, but then again, so many attempts to

make past wrongs right did. "He misses you, I think," Harry murmured. There was no visible response, but he knew that Gellert's inside must have started to twist because he started to speak. "Why would you think that…? He was going to kill me." "And it would have been the right thing to do, but unfortunately I cared too much about him to let him. Do you really think he could have lived with himself if he had actually killed you? Albus doesn't love with only half his heart like most do. He's much too romantic for that." "I care not for his romanticism. You can tell him that." "I won't. I don't lie unless I can rationalize why it might be appropriate. As it is, I see no occasion to, especially because you're the one that owes me the favor." That was beside the fact that Harry knew that Gellert really didn't want him to, and he knew that Harry wouldn't. "And what is that?" "It requires some traveling on your part." "No." "I understand. Leaving this place would indeed be a tragedy. You must have formed some lasting relationships of your own since we last saw each other. Happen upon many whores to satisfy all those desires you must be feeling?" Grindelwald was silent, but Harry could feel the building pressure in the room. He had resorted to one of the many things he was good at. Getting reactions out of people. "Not to mention that it will be especially hard for Albus to see you again. Very uncomfortable, I'd imagine. Especially considering how you've turned out, he'd probably start blaming himself. Of course, I don't quite see how you going stark-raving mad is his fault anyway. Some people are just chemically imbalanced. And for you to be with someone like Albus, well… The relationship couldn't have ended in any other way than it did, if you ask me. Obviously you're priorities

weren't the same, so you lost everything." Nothing. A smile started to etch itself onto Harry's face. "But you seem to be more than happy with your situation in life. I won't bother you anymore. I merely thought that since I saved your life, you would feel inclined to help with a little problem I seem to be having with some former friends of mine. It seems the people we're residing with happened upon an especially masochistic and petty human who just won't leave them alone. Superior relations are probably on their way to dispose of her and the others. Although Albus and I have gotten particularly close to them, and it would be very upsetting if they should die." Harry heard clicking teeth. "But of course, why should you care. I understand completely. I'll just rejoin Albus and get out of your way. Sorry to have bothered you. You have my word, you will never hear from me again." Harry turned without another glance at the cloaked man and walking briskly out. It may have been better to have mentioned Albus a few more times, perhaps sadder or more hopeless than he actually was. But otherwise, he thought he'd handled the encounter perfectly. Unless of course, Gellert chose not to follow him, and then the entire last hour or two had been a waste. He could have tortured him, especially paying him back for the uncomfortable pressure in the room for the entirety of his visit, but that would have inevitable upset Albus and he was in no mood for that kind of lecture. Perhaps he had brought up Edward in a more than platonic light, then Gellert might have sympathized with him, but he didn't want sympathy. He wanted anger. And he believed he'd gotten it. Gellert seemed suitably angry when he left, so all Harry had to do was make his exit, join Albus and wait for Grindelwald to follow. When he came to hole that constituted the entrance to the rock, he saw Albus standing at the threshold, looking straight up. Harry followed his gaze, and saw the man of the hour peering down at him from the window he'd just left. Only then, the man's hood was down.

Long blond hair fell just as smooth as the last they'd seen him. Sparkling dull gold eyes were visible even from so many stories up. The man's mouth was open, staring hungrily at Albus as though it was all he would ever need to ensure survival. Blood could not compare to the sight of the man. "Albus…" His voice was full of longing, so different from the voice Harry had heard earlier. "Gellert." Albus replied, cool and collected. The wind from the ocean blew Gellert's hair back from his face, and Harry marveled again at how time would never be able to affect them. How they could have not seen the man for so long and he still looked exactly the same. Young, handsome, anxious, and in love. "What do you need Albus?" Gellert asked. Harry might have known. No matter what the connection was, the plea would be so much more powerful if Albus would make it. Gellert could never deliberately hurt Albus, but for the time, Albus wouldn't have been strong enough to make it without at least some preparation. "Come with us, Gellert. We need your help," Albus said. And then Gellert was gone. Lucius sighed. "What on earth did you bring her for?" A tall woman appeared to be dragging something across the lawn. Her long waist coat brushed the ground softly, giving the illusion of elegance, but the madness in her eyes belied that apparition. Bellatrix giggled softly. "Relax, I come in peace. By the way, is this yours?" She tossed a body at him. One look at the boy and he knew he was still alive, which was a relief, but an unpleasant smell filled his nostrils. "Eugh! What did you do? Rub him in dung?" Draco scowled. "That's why I figured he was with you," Bellatrix chuckled at her own joke. "Jacob!"

Bella ran out from the back of the house and flew toward the unconscious werewolf, directly towards the woman. "DON'T! You fool of a girl!" Lucius yelled, and grabbed her harshly by the arm. "Have some sense!" "My God, where did you find her?" Lupin asked, looking almost horrified. Bellatrix's eyes were trained on the girl like a cat on a mouse. She stepped over the wolf's body on the ground and seemed to float toward the girl. Lucius shoved Bella away straight into Alice's arms. Alice's eyes widened as she saw Bellatrix's potential for destruction. She held Bella close. "Jasper, Emmett…" She whispered softly, and in an instant they were in front of the girls. "Oh bloody hell, it's no use now," Sirius said, looking uncomfortable. "I don't like things dangled in front of me that I cannot have…" Bellatrix growled. "Move aside now, I haven't eaten in days." Lucius turned to Lupin. "You brought Bellatrix to help protect a human and you didn't make her eat first!" Lupin gulped. "We didn't know it was a human. We only got a summons and an address." "She followed us," Sirius boasted. "She's not actually that bad anymore. She said she's trying to turn her life around." "Think about it for a second Bellatrix. We're going up against the Volturi for this pathetic excuse for an organism, don't think we won't take you apart piece by piece if you give us a reason," Lucius growled. "He's telling the truth. He doesn't like you," Draco smiled. "Any practice you can provide would be greatly appreciated." "Arrogant words for such a little boy, Drakee," Bellatrix laughed. She licked her lips in Bella's direction. "Don't turn your back little girl. It would be very unwise to let your guard down around me." Bella held tight to Alice while Carlisle and Edward exchanged a

glance. They debated just letting Bellatrix turn her and put an end to their situation. Unfortunately, Edward couldn't fathom having the girl following him and Harry around for the rest of eternity.

Twenty-Three: We own the Night Edward stepped out onto the porch. As much as he wasn't looking forward to any confrontation with the Volturi, he was starting to wish it were happening sooner. After all, the sooner it happened, the sooner Harry and Albus would be back. As it was, Alice still saw it was still another week before the Volturi would arrive. The thing about having two full houses was that even when you wished to be alone, you weren't. He realized that as he looked up and saw one of the annoying blonds in the yard, staring up at the sky. Draco. Harry's former lover. Edward felt in many ways that he had been foolish to think that Harry hadn't had a large number of lovers in his uncommonly long life, but having to hear about all his other affairs was still hard. And he heard an earful whenever he was around Draco. The blond didn't seem to have a pure thought in his head. He was always thinking about his next conquest or his former conquests. And when he thought about the past, no one was more prevalent than Harry. At first Edward thought the boy way trying to mock or irritate him. Edward knew Harry left to help them, and he was angry that he wasn't stronger and able to block out all the other influences around him. By all means, he should have been. But it was torture not having Harry around to affirm it to him every time Draco recounted one their many trysts together. This was one of those instances. "Think you could control your libido for a few minutes? I came out here for solitude."

"So did I, and look, you've ruined it," Draco smirked, passing a sideways glance at Edward. Harry fell onto the bed, and was immediately covered by the pale blond, hands entwined above their heads and their tongues battling for dominance. "Cut it out," Edward growled. "I swear it's not on purpose. I can't help it if I'm hornier than a ram in the middle of April," Draco smiled, eyeing Edward's form. "Fancy a rough and tumble?" "I'm with Harry." "So am I. Believe me, no one knows the importance of sexual satisfaction better than Harry." Edward recalled all the times that Harry had been nervous when they were about to be intimate, and wondered how Harry could have been nervous when Draco was so adamant about his prowess. He decided not to ask, especially because it would directly conflict with his wanting to be alone and all. But the blond was persistent. "I realize that you two have this thing going on but honestly I don't think Harry would mind. He's has a wide variety of sexual partners and doesn't mind when they seek gratification elsewhere. He's not the monotonous… I mean the monogamous type, you see." Edward was very close to hearing enough. "Would you mind terribly leaving me alone? I came here for quiet and now I think I need it more than ever." "Please. I'll be quiet. But keeping my mind quiet might be a harder task. Perhaps you should seek your solace elsewhere since I was here first. Be a gentleman for once, Cullen. Though I suppose the fact that you are both a redhead and a peasant, one can't expect much better manners." Edward grinded his teeth loud enough he was sure Malfoy could hear. He broke into a run, past the boy and into the woods. Draco shook his head, smiling to himself.

"Why do you taunt him like that?" Draco turned and saw one of the Alaska vampires, Tanya was it? She was surely beautiful, but Draco had seen great beauty before and wasn't as affected as others might have been. "Just testing the waters. It's my duty as Harry's friend and confident to make sure he makes the right choices." "I hear that Harry makes many of the right choices, and either way, what business is it of yours? He's been around longer than you have and he has Albus, who I think is much more suited to be giving him advice as to picking the right mate." Draco scoffed. "Harry will never choose a mate. This boy is just a fling and Harry will lose interest just as he has in the past. No doubt about it." Tanya shook her head, but doubt was creeping into her eyes. "Listen. Harry has been infatuated many a time. Unfortunately for him, he has an especially long life to live and there is hardly anyone that can manage to stay interesting for eternity. Believe me. This is a passing obsession, just like everyone else." "Would one of his passing infatuations be you?" Draco licked his lips. "Ours wasn't an infatuation, it was lust," he snapped. Tanya's eyes glowed. "But you didn't think so at the time… did you?" "Buzz off, girl. Don't talk of things you don't know." Bella felt as though she had spent the last few weeks in the same place. Sitting in a chair at Harry's, watching as their party grew by the day. Sometimes it was friends of the Cullens. Sometimes it was more friends of Harry and Albus. The only thing that changed was the house. Jacob was fine, only knocked out. Bellatrix wouldn't kill him, but she did think it was great fun to knock out a local before realizing that he was a werewolf. She brought him to Sirius as a joke, one that neither Sirius nor Remus thought was funny. But because they had heard

there was a werewolf in the midst of the Cullens, they thought it best to bring him along. After all the other odd things that they knew they would be dealing with, they figured it was probably best not to Carlisle was tending to him, but he was a bit shaken up. Sirius and Remus were put in charge of guarding Bellatrix and keeping her away from Bella. The crazy vampire said that she was trying, but in Bella's opinion it was not the moment to be experimenting with vegetarianism. It would have been better if she had significant time to adjust to the lifestyle. Not immediately thrown into a house with a human in the vicinity. But she figured that a vampire hoping to be a vegetarian was better than a vampire that wasn't. She had come across Laurent a few times as well. Though he had promised not to hurt her, she was still uneasy around him. In fact, she was uneasy around everyone except Alice. Edward wouldn't even talk to her. She knew he thought it was all her fault, and she knew that it sort of was. As soon as Harry and Albus came back it would be better, but then she remembered that when they did, the Volturi would probably be at their heels. "Hello, pet." Bella looked up in alarm. Bellatrix. The woman's eyes were swirling in delight as she rested her hand on the doorframe of Harry's room. Carlisle had made the decision that she should stay at Harry and Albus' house for the time being, especially because the house was bigger and there was a better view from all sides. Plus all of the visitors seemed to be making their appearances at the Cullen residence, so it was safer elsewhere so the new vampires could get filled in and not have to deal with the sudden appearance of a human. It was a plus that it was Harry's room too, and she felt safer there than anywhere else. Bellatrix was slowly advancing on Bella, but she didn't look like she was there to kill her. Unless of course she was in the habit of playing with her food before eating it. Bella scrunched back in her seat, unsure of what to do. She could scream, but Bellatrix was fast and could muffle her before it had any

effect. She could run, but that seemed pointless as well. So the best thing she could was keep calm and try to talk the insane woman out of having her for a mid-afternoon snack. "You're a friend of Harry and Albus?" she asked. Bellatrix cocked her head. "I wouldn't say we're friends. Indifferent acquaintances would be the better word. At least with Albus. I've always had a soft spot for ickle Harry. He's a real darling isn't he?" Bella didn't know how to answer. "It is a pity he's gotten himself into such trouble, fraternizing with riff raff. The Cullens are so below them. Powers are barely up to par with the Volturi, and beyond that they seem to be useless anyway. I wonder why they even bother." "Harry and Albus are friendly with them. Harry and Edward have a special bond." "OH!" Bellatrix screeched so high Bella thought she felt her eardrums shatter. "My little Harry is in love? Oh how wonderful. Which was it again?" Bella thought she was making particularly good headway. "Edward. With red hair." "I'm not familiar. Is he a twin?" Bella was about to answer but was cut off. "Oh well it doesn't matter! I always thought he would find himself a good boy. A bit mediocre but good, I suppose. Just hope his boy can put up with his horrible temper…" Bella felt her pulse beginning to slow, but then Bellatrix was right in her face. "And what is your purpose here, bird?" Bella backed up as Bellatrix closed in. The woman was terribly frightening from far away, but she was demonic up close. Her dark curls covered her swirling red eyes and Bella was certain this kind of woman only existed in nightmares. "I'm a friend of Harry and Edward's…" she managed to speak. "I see…" Bellatrix hummed. "But what kind of friend are you that you

would knowingly put ickle Harry in danger? Well, I suppose he's not in danger since he's more than capable of taking care of himself. But what of his lover?" Bella blushed at the insinuation. "Oh my. Do you have a crush on Harry?" Bellatrix looked too excited to contain herself. "Oh marvelous! I love a good intrigue! You're hoping the Volturi will kill Edward so you can have Harry to yourself!" "NO!" Bella cried before remembering herself. It was probably best not to argue with a clinically unstable vampire with no witnesses about. "I mean, that's incorrect. I would never…" "Oh dearie, your secret is safe with me…" Bellatrix laughed hysterically. Bella thought briefly that the only way Bellatrix could keep a secret would be if she were the last rational being on the planet. "Aren't you supposed to be with Sirius and Remus…" Bella asked, hoping to rid herself of Bellatrix. "They're downstairs, darling…" Her words dripped with sadistic pleasure. "I feel a connection with you, bird… so much so that I am going to share a secret with you." Bella shook her head internally, but on the outside she merely remained stagnant. Bellatrix drew closer. "Did you know that Albus and Harry used to kill humans as well?" Bella bit her lip. "Oh yes, my dear. Would you believe that that is how we met? Harry used to kill everything in sight; humans were only appetizers and entrees to him. Albus was just as bad. Don't let the old man fool you with his charms. He was a brute, wanting nothing more than power. He wanted you all as slaves. That is all you really are, anyway. Blood banks, and the only price is a piece of our soul. Easy, isn't it?" Bellatrix was cruel and therefore Bella was not fast to believe her. Albus was a smart, funny and gentle person. Harry was cynical and had a bit of a temper, but she couldn't believe ill of either of them.

Harry? Killing hundreds of humans to eat them? Bella had to admit that it was a possibility, but then she remembered Harry's smiles. How could a person that could love so deeply do something so heartless? And even if he did, he was a vampire. Vampires drank blood. He was just doing what he was supposed to do to survive. Anyone would have done the same. But hundreds… Bellatrix's smile only grew. "Ah. I know what you are. I don't suppose you've ever met Gianna, have you? No, you wouldn't. She works for the Volturi. Or rather… she did for a long time. She wanted to be a vampire. She thought that if she accepted their way of life and tried to help them, they would make her one of them. So she helped them get their meals, convincing friends and others to come and see the Volturi domain." Bellatrix seemed to take great pleasure in the story. "Of course, they never made her one of them. She was a human and the Volturi doesn't fraternize with humans. They eat them." Bellatrix ended her sentence with a long slurp for dramatic effect and succeeded in giving Bella goose flesh. "Which of course is what they did to Gianna. They have plenty of people who are willing to help them to survive, to become vampires, all of that. And they haven't changed one. Not one. Unless of course they have some kind of special power like Jane and Alec." She leaned in even closer so that the tip of her nose brushed Bella's. "I don't suppose you have any redeeming qualities to ensure your survival?" Bella couldn't say a word. She hadn't been thinking about them making her a vampire before, but as Bellatrix spoke she awakened a hope that one day they would. The more she thought about it, the more appealing the idea sounded. But also the more hopeless in light of what Bellatrix had told her. Would Harry and Albus let her die? Would Alice? Edward? Did they have a reason for keeping her alive at all? "Oh my. I've frightened you. So sorry, dearie," Bellatrix didn't look sorry. In fact, she looked rather pleased with herself. "I'm sure you'll be the exception. And if not…" She licked her blood red lips. "I'll make sure your death is quick." "There you are!"

Bellatrix groaned and looked up as her cousin came bounding toward her. "God dammit, woman! You are clinically incapable of obeying orders! Do you want Remus to kill me?" "Nothing would please me more…" Bellatrix grumbled as she allowed herself to be led away by the arm. She looked back at her frightened prey. "Remember what I said, dear human. Though I really hope that I'm wrong…" Then she laughed. And the laugh shook Bella's bones. Remus paced back and forth in the foyer of Albus' house. He had spent a while blasting Sirius for losing Bellatrix so quickly, but he was even more angry that she had followed them in the first place. Bellatrix had been known for being off kilter when she was alive, but immortality seemed to have made a bad situation worse. The door flew open and the boy that Bellatrix had knocked out ran into the room. Remus, calm and collect as ever, wasted no time in making the frantic-looking boy comfortable. "Ah. Jacob, is it?" "Where's Bella?" The boy looked as though he had run there from his internment at the Cullens'. "Quite indisposed at the moment. Don't worry. We're here to protect her from anything that should harm her. Albus and Harry's orders, really," Remus grinned. Jacob nodded. "Can I see her?" Remus' lips tightened. "You're a werewolf, are you not?" Jacob sighed. "I can control it." "You're a teenager…" Remus looked concerned. He'd had his fair share of run ins with werewolves, especially since his partner had a bit of a talent for changing into many animals. "I'm a shape shifter, and I can control it!"

"Regardless, I think it is best that you keep calm and wait until she feels up to entertaining company. Humans are very fragile creatures, you know." "I'm very aware of that fact…" Jacob threw himself on the couch. "So, you are friends of Harry and Albus?" "As good of friends as we can be considering their lifestyle of traveling so often. It's like trying to have a close relationship with a grain of sand. One day it's in your hand, the next it could be on a shore a thousand miles away," Remus smiled. Jacob looked skeptical. "You remind me of him. Albus." "Oh, any comparison that one makes to Albus can never be completely correct. He has too many different qualities. I've known him for many a millennia and I still think I know hardly anything about him." "But you know Harry?" "Harry and Albus are not the same person, though they have enough in common to be inexorably linked. Harry has more qualities that are befitting of a human, while Albus' personality hierarchy shifts more than any human's could." Jacob nodded. "Doesn't seem like a stable person to me." "Oh, Albus never claims to be stable. In fact, there are quite a few circumstances involving Albus that makes the possibility of completely trusting him impossible." "But Harry trusts him?" "Harry is just as untrustworthy as Albus in many ways." "So how can you be sure that they are doing what they say they are doing? How can we be sure that they mean to help us and save Bella?" "We don't. But they've sent a wide variety of people here under the direction of protecting Bella and the Cullens. That means something, no matter how you look at it." "So are they capable of love?"

Remus laughed. "My, you are full of questions. I always thought that werewolves despised vampires above all other creature on earth." "You're protecting Bella. I figured it would be counterproductive to kill you." "Indeed it would be, assuming of course that you are capable of killing me, which I highly doubt." "You underestimate me." "Of course I don't. I hardly know you. I would be unreasonable to make any assumptions about your strength since I have not experienced it. I am merely making a rational statement taking into consideration my age, history of dealing with werewolves, and the fact that the first time I saw you, you were unconscious in the arms of a woman who is by all accounts insane." Jacob blinked. "Thank God, he doesn't talk like that all the time. I think I would go dizzy with cranial overhaul," a tall man with black hair laughed as he descended from the second floor. "See? I can use big words. Cranial?" "I'm impressed, Sirius," Remus laughed. "Talking about me?" Sirius asked. "Jacob, this is Sirius Black, my partner," Remus introduced. "Yep. Carlisle informs me that we have the same last name! We're practically related!" Sirius's laugh sounded suspiciously like a bark and Jacob was left to wonder if that were actually a possibility. "Doubtful." Sirius raised a bow at the uncooperative boy. "Well, isn't he Mr. Marvelous?" he whispered to Remus, who chuckled to himself. "You don't look at all happy to be here, my boy, so what is the point of standing there looking angry when you could be outside licking yourself?" Remus hit Sirius over the head, but Jacob rolled his eyes. "I'm here because Bella is here."

"The self-destructive one?" "She has some issues accepting reality, no doubt…" Jacob answered, sounding unhappy about that particular truth. "I'll tell you right now, son. If they haven't killed her by now, she's safe," Sirius laughed. "What about that crazy woman?" Sirius glared at Jacob for a second during which Remus gave him a thoughtful look. "You have been keeping an eye on her, haven't you?" Remus asked, searching Sirius' face. Sirius adopted a guilty look while Jacob tensed. "Relax… the girl is fine and Bellatrix is sedated for now." "Did Bellatrix get to talk to her?" "Maybe." "Sirius, do you know all the things that Bellatrix could have said to that girl? Did she still have color when you found her?" "Oh please. What could Bellatrix tell her that she didn't already know?" Remus threw an exasperated look at his partner. "I'm going to talk to her, and you make sure that Bellatrix is still where you left her or so help me I will scalp you down the middle." Sirius watched as Remus left to find the human. "And they wonder why vampires and humans can't be friends. Humans ruin every relationship they find themselves in." He looked at Jacob again who looked horrified. "Do everyone a favor and club her. Hit her over the head, drag her away and marry her and live happily ever after. Do us all a favor." Jacob threw his hands in the air. "Nothing would please me more." Edward sat in a chair in Harry's library He spent much of his time there, reading Harry's books and imagined Harry would be standing on the other side of the room, nose buried in a history book or paging

through a philosophy text or teaching himself new card games in the corner of the room that overlooked the backyard. He eyed the books that lay discarded on the table behind the chair and picked up the top one. It wasn't a history book, as he had come to expect. It was a medical journal. In fact, all the books on the back table were medical journals. He opened the first book on the pile, leafing through it slowly and finding many pages in which symptoms were circled, highlighted, and pages that were ripped out. He wondered how long they had worked on this project. The map was in plain sight, but they had hid this behind the chair, perhaps not wanting anyone else to see it. Below was a notebook and Edward opened that as well. At the top it read Liam and rest of the page read like a list. "Allergies to most metals, toxins, detergent, gluten, lactose…" Suddenly, the door swung wide open, and a man Edward had never seen before entered the room. Long black hair hung in his eyes, and when he looked up, he looked most displeased that another person was there. "Who are you?" The man asked. Edward was surprised at his deep voice and dismal attitude so soon. The man obviously had some social awkwardness he needed to work on. Edward cleared his throat. "Edward Cullen. Who are you?" "Not important. Why are you in Dumbledore's library?" "It's Harry's library and it's none of your business until you tell me who you are," Edward sneered, unnerved by the man's gall. The hooked-nose man snarled. "I'm a friend of the family, if you don't mind. And since the brat asked me to have a look at the contents of the library I don't see any reason for you to be pestering me, so run off. Make yourself scarce." The man swept into the room like a shadow and started rummaging as if he owned the place. It only irritated Edward more. "I see no reason to leave you here alone, even if you claim that Harry and Albus sent you."

"If you would like proof, you may ask the young lady downstairs, but your feelings are not something I am concerned with," he murmured as he finally found the stack of books that Edward had been perusing before. He looked up just long enough to glare at Edward before catching sight of the texts in Edward's hands. "Were those in this pile, you insolent fool?" Edward was impressed at how angry the man could get without losing the silky texture in his voice. "Those were placed here for my explicit use. Put them back this instant!" "Are you looking for information on Liam's symptoms?" Edward was finally putting information together. It wasn't helping that the man's mind was unusually blank. Perhaps Albus had told him that he could read minds. "If what you have in your hand pertains to the boy, then you'd best be giving it to me." Edward felt his hands reaching to hand the journal to the dark and irritating man. "What are you doing?" He asked uncertainly, watching as his hand defied the wishes of his mind. "Make no mistake, miscreant. Whether you like it or not, I always get what I want in the end. Give me the book and make yourself scarce. I will be needing solitude if I am expected to work." Edward unwillingly handed the book to the dark man and felt his legs beginning to work against him, dragging the rest of his body to the door. Before he reached it, it opened again. The shaggy haired man he had met before walked through, eyed him oddly, and then glared at the man who then had his abnormally large nose buried so deeply in one of the journals that Edward was sure it was touching the page. "Severus, how dare you treat our host in such a manner!" "Is he the owner of this house?" "No, but—." "Then he is not the host. In fact, I am quite sure that our hosts are far off in another country if the time line still applies to when they said they would be arriving."

Edward's head snapped back. "You know when they will be back? Severus sneered. "Foolish boy, use your head and perhaps you'll realize that they will definitely be back before the Volturi get here. Seems plausible, don't you?" He said all this, without looking up from his book. He narrowed his eyes as he read. "Seems to me this boy would better be dead than alive. Allergic to the world… MCS, most probably." "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity? In such a young boy? That must be agonizing…" Remus said, thoughtfully. "No wonder Harry wanted us to have a look at him." Edward narrowed his eyes. "Harry did say he felt something of a connection to the boy. Why would he feel a connection to a boy with MCS?" Remus licked his lips and Edward was struck by the sudden darkness in his eyes. "Harry was once human, as you are aware. According to Albus, he had a number of conditions when he was mortal. He was always small for his age and if he had been allowed to age past puberty…" "It is certain that he would have procured more serious symptoms as he grew, and he was especially unlucky to have been born during that time. It would cause him to be shunned and most probably killed by his people. They would have had no use for him. That was partly why Albus took him in in the first place. Not only was he a child that no one else in his group would have cared for, but he was sickly as well. Ill-cared for and tormented before Albus stepped in," Severus continued. "Wait. He was beaten as a baby?" "They shook him at times, but luckily Albus got to him before they disconnected his spinal cord. Albus was an exceptionally good healer and Harry grew up as healthy as he could given the circumstances, but he was allergic to most things. His skin was very sensitive to just about everything. We believe it was a side effect of his rough handling as an infant," Remus said. "I always wondered what made Albus change Harry before he was older," Edward murmured.

"What are you to him, exactly?" Severus asked. "You seem particularly worthless to me. I thought someone who could read minds would be a bit more intelligent." Right. So Harry had said something to the cold excuse for a man. "I can't really tell what you're thinking when you aren't thinking anything, can I?" Severus huffed. "Aro's powers are more useful. Why he would want you for his tribe is beyond me." Edward sighed. "Can we get back to Harry please?" "I feel that if Harry didn't confide the rest of the information to you, then it is not my place to enlighten you. Now if you don't mind, I would like to work." Remus smiled at Edward and made a gesture for him to follow out the door. "I apologize for Severus. He suffers from a personality disorder that has something or other to do with his upbringing." Severus turned away in response, his nose buried deeply in the notebook. "Come, Edward. I think there are a few things I would talk to you about," Remus smiled, leading Edward out of the library. Severus turned, watching the younger boy's back as he exited the room. "Who will be the one to change the boy when everyone in this house covets life so much. Wasteful." He sneered and stuck his nose back in the book. Craig waited. His white suit was crisp and he watched the terrain from the plane window. They were due any minute and he was getting restless. He licked his lips, waiting for their forms to break through the trees. They hadn't much time. It was getting too close. The last plane he had sent contained four more people, the last of those he had managed to round up. Now he needed the keys to victory, whenever they chose to appear. He poured himself a glass of red wine just as Albus appeared at the door to the plane. Craig made a show of checking his watch, raising a

brow at the older looking gentleman. "Do forgive me, Craig. It appears Harry and Gellert got into a bit of a scuffle on the way here. Just like old times, they will never be able to settle their differences for good." "What are they fighting about now?" "Providence only knows." The last of Albus' words passed as a very disgruntled Harry stomped up the stairs to the plane and immediately took the seat at the end, closing the privacy doors without a word. Albus turned to look at Gellert who looked a bit disenchanted with his current situation. "What is this contraption?" "I'll tell you what, I'll tell you everything there is to know about the wonders of modern technology if you explain to me what you said to Harry that got him in such a state," Albus said and Gellert registered the look in his former lover's eyes. "Just a heart-to-heart conversation about life, love, and other mysteries," he said. "Don't patronize me. I could your oldest ancestor and you would never know." Gellert seemed ashamed for a moment before answering. "Just a question about where my loyalty lies. He wanted to make sure I was coming for the help and not just to get in your pants." Albus laughed, "I very much pity you if you decide to get in my pants. Rest assured there are plenty of spider-webs in that general area, so if we could please move on from my lack of sexual escapades…" "He knows why I am here." "For my health, I am going to assume that you are here to make amends and become good friends and leave it at that. Let's make one thing very clear. I am with Harry, Gellert. Not romantically by an means, but you know that we made that promise to each other eons ago. I will never put another person before him and he will never put another person before me."

"What about Edward?" Gellert seemed displeased with Albus' answer. Albus hummed to himself. Harry opened the privacy door. "I'm with Albus. And luckily, he is never the one to make me choose. But if I had to choose, we know who it would be. Is it that clear for you?" Harry tilted his head. Gellert pursed his lips. "Your love for each other is as strong as ever." "Oh if it weren't for the differences in our tastes in men, we could have been quite the couple, right Harry?" "I'm going to ignore that, Albus," Harry smirked. "There. Albus chooses me. Make your choice and stick with it." The doors closed again with a snap. Gellert sighed. "He acts as though he's doing me the favor in bringing me along." "And we wouldn't want him any other way, would we?" Albus asked. "Can you please sit? We're going to be late," Craig said, not amused by the verbal discourse. Carlisle rushed outside when he heard a car racing up the driveway. In fact, he had heard it almost a mile or two away because the music was blaring so loud. He wondered for a moment if some humans had decided that today of all days they would try to explore the infamous Cullen property unannounced. He relaxed when he saw the pale complexions of those in the car. It looked to contain two redheads, one black-haired male and a frizzyhaired female. He raised his brow when he noticed that the redheaded male and the black-haired one appeared to be singing along with the music and rocking their heads around in rhythm while the two females looked as though they were about to throttle the both of them. The door opened and the older woman in the back seat strutted out, running her fingers through her thick red hair, looking a bit shaken "I swear, I am never getting in a car with you idiots again!" She was followed by the younger girl, who looked equally ruffled.

"Honestly. It would be one thing if we were late, but it appears we arrived right on time," she said in a bit of a self-important drawl. The two in the car rolled their eyes and turned the music off, following their respective mates. Carlisle stepped down the stairs, making to welcome them, but someone else beat him to the punch. "Good God, they didn't invite you, did they? I thought this was something of an A-list friends party." Carlisle recognized Draco Malfoy's voice and turned to see him eying the newcomers in distaste. "Of course it is, but that doesn't explain why you're here, does it?" The older man sneered upon seeing the blond. "I'll tell you what. Why don't you let the grown-ups handle the fighting and you can go stare at yourself in the lake. That way everyone is doing what they do best." The man's grin was entirely self-satisfied. Draco snarled, "If everyone was to do what they do then the whole lot of you would be in front of the telly playing their hand-helds, am I right?" The younger red-haired boy growled. "Jamie! I was wondering when you get here! You almost missed the party!" Sirius Black called out as he took off towards his friend. By this time Remus, Severus, Fleur, William, Fred and George, and most of the other guests had appeared at the door to see what the commotion was about. Lucius and Severus merely rolled their eyes and walked back into the house. Remus, however, followed Sirius' example and paid proper welcome to his friends. Edward was startled at how much the black-haired man, James, bore a resemblance to Harry. They could have been related, even twins. The man didn't have Harry's eyes though, and his nose was slightly longer. But otherwise, it was almost a perfect likeness. "Ah. This must be the famous Edward." The red-headed lady approached to give Edward a hug. "Such a handsome young man. Much better than those other men Harry normally spends his time with."

Edward noticed Draco scowl at the woman's comment. "I was the best thing that's ever happened to him, Lily. This one doesn't even know where to put it." "Not saying you weren't my dear. It's just nice to see that people can still make commitments that mean something these days." Lily smiled sweetly at the angry Malfoy, before turning to Edward again. "We must talk, soon, my dear. I must know more about Harry's intended. It's so romantic. Fate still works in strange ways, doesn't she?" Lily took Draco's arm and allowed him to lead her into the house. SLAP! He turned quickly to see the red-headed man rubbing his cheek with the brown-haired female looking at him. "Bloody hell, Hermione!" "Keep it in your pants, you animal. At least pretend like you already have a mate," Hermione growled and then turned her glare to someone directly behind Edward. He turned to see Fleur looking smug. "Merlin. What the hell kind of man would I be if I didn't even notice a beautiful woman…." The man grumbled, slouching up the stairs. Carlisle shook his hand. "Carlisle Cullen. Thank you so much for coming, Mr…" "Ron Weasley. Pleased also. I figure if you're going to ruin our lives, might as well get good use out of the telly. Got a chessboard by any chance?" He asked as he went into the house to be greeted by the rest of the company. "Hermione Granger. I apologize for my husband." "And I apologize for bringing a harpy!" called Ron from inside. "Can't help it, she follows me around wherever I go. Obsessed with me, really." Hermione stalked into the house, presumably to slap her amusing husband again. Carlisle shared a look with Edward. "They certainly have met some

interesting people in their lifetimes." Carlisle smiled. At the very least, they would be having a very good interesting time until the Volturi and Harry and Albus made it back. A few hours later, the Cullens got the news they were dreading. "What is it, Alice? Jasper asked, as Alice's back suddenly went stiff. "They're here," Alice whispered, staring straight into the forest. Everyone in the room was on their feet in seconds. Carlisle took his feet slowly, and looked over when he felt an arm around him. He looked over to see Sirius Black, giving him a reassuring smile. "Don't you worry, my friend. If worse comes to worse, we'll just find you a new human and it'll all be better." Carlisle smiled slightly, but knew it was no use. He knew better than anyone that this was no longer about Bella. It was about him. It was about Edward and Alice. But he resisted telling his guests that it was them that needed protecting. After all, what was their incentive to help them when they hardly knew each other? He shared a look with Edward, knowing that his son would do next to anything to save his family. He just hoped the cost wasn't too high. Edward walked out the back door, feeling Alice and Jasper behind him, along with the Denali clan, Sirius and Remus, a bored-looking Bellatrix, and Bella being gripped by Jacob. Harry, where are you? "Looks like we were just in time," James said, stretching. "We all know we are headed to our deaths, but we had fun along the way. It's going to be a long and arduous fight, but I have no doubt…. OUCH!" "No one wants to hear your cheesy monologue, Black." "Easy, Snivellus. We all know you can't give speeches worth a damn." Edward wished he could be as light-hearted as they were. They had probably seen more fights than him, anyway. But there was dread poking at his heart. They started into the woods, ready to meet what was coming.

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