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The Full Moon's light.

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The summer seemed to pass slowly, and all at once. Days spent hiking in the woods, hunting with Edward and wrestling with Emmett and Jasper. Alice insisted on painting my nails, and then was horrified and dismayed when her hours of painstaking work was shed and left in a bloody pile in the dirt with my next shift. In my defense, I did try to warn her.

 

The ever present threat of Victoria seemed less imposing now, months had past with no sign of her but we didn’t let ourselves become complicit. We continued our daily patrols, each taking our turn when it came. But it didn’t feel as urgent now. I didn’t feel watched, hunted. I felt at peace.

 

There was barely two weeks until the start of the new term, and I happily bounced down the stairs ready to go out for a hike with Edward. The weather was gloomy at the moment, but there was a promise of it clearing up as the day went on.

 

I entered the kitchen to see my Dad carefully studying a letter, the paper plain and simple, with three sharp creases in it where it had been folded into it’s envelope. “Something interesting?” I remarked as I poured a cup of coffee.

 

“A letter from a friend.” Charlie hummed in reply, not taking his eyes off the paper.

 

“You have friends?” I mocked with a smile as I sipped my coffee.

 

“Cheeky.” Charlie admonished, finally looking up and meeting my eyes with a warm smile. There was an edge to it though, like he was silently telling me to brace myself for unpleasant news. “This friend, she’s a werewolf who lives with a Shifter pack down in Mexico. She wrote me to tell me that they had chased a vampire matching Victoria’s description out of their territory.”

 

I forced my hand to tighten around my mug, if I didn’t I would have dropped it and let it shatter on the ground. “What?” I stuttered. Of course I knew there were other werewolves, and I also knew that Charlie was in occasional contact with them. A clandestine community, an alliance born out of desperation and death. News passed between proxies, dead drops and hidden safe houses. Charlie had sent word out to the network to be on the look out for Victoria, and now it had borne fruit. “Why would she be in Mexico?

 

Your guess is as good as mine.” Charlie sighed, standing up and shrugging on his sheriff’s jacket. “I’m going to go show this to Carlisle, and then head in to work.” Charlie carefully folded the letter along it’s creases and tucked it into the inside pocket of his jacket. He then walked over to me, and put a strong hand on my shoulder. “Try to have a good day.” Charlie’s pleading tone made my heart ache, so I plastered a hopeful smile on my face.

 

I’ll do my best.” I promised.

 

X xXx

 

With a sigh I relaxed back into the long soft grass of the meadow. The same meadow I had woken up in after Edward witnessed my transformation. Apparently it was a favourite spot of his. “ We can’t just run off to Mexico.” I muttered.

 

Well… we could.Edward countered teasingly as he lounged along side me.

 

Senior year is about to start, and one of us still needs to graduate.” I gave him a side long look before I turned to stare up at the cloudy sky. The dark grey clouds were slowly fading, giving way to softer, fluffy white clouds that held no promise of rain.

 

True.” Edward relented, his long fingers reached out to play with the ends of my hair. “I just don’t like the thought of Victoria still out there. We could go to Mexico, track her down, make sure she can’t hurt us.”

 

I knew what he really meant. When Edward said ‘us’ what he really meant was ‘you’. Edward didn’t want anything to happen to me. “ For all your talk of responsibility, that sounds awfully reckless.” I teased and I turned my head to face him again. “ If Victoria wants to fight, she knows where to find us. It’s better to wait. We have the home advantage here, we know the terrain better than she could ever hope to.”

 

E dward smiled warmly, “When did you become the reasonable one?” He mused.

 

Probably the same time you became the one advocating for an international man hunt.” I quipped quickly.

 

E dward’s smile turned into a mischievous smirk, and he slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position. I watched him move, and I saw as his face slowly fell into a contemplative frown. I felt my face fall into a matching frown as I pulled myself up to sit cross legged across from him. “ What is it? What’s wrong?” My head cocked to the side in curiosity and concern.

 

E dward’s frown turned into a hesitant smile, “Nothings wrong… I just-” Edward shifted until he was sitting down facing me directly, “I have something I have been meaning to ask you.”

 

Alright?” I agreed warily, and I eyed his hand as it ducked into his pant’s pocket. No. He wasn’t, was he?

 

I watched with eagle eyes as his hand reappeared, long pale fingers curled around a ring box. “ I wanted to give this to you.” He said softly, and he opened his mouth to say more but I cut him off.

 

Edward, are you about to ask me to marry you?” I blurted out with all the social grace of a slug.

 

What?” Edward gaped, “No, I mean. Not yet.” He shook his head and opened the ring box, “This would be a lot easier if you just let me finish.” He chided. Inside the ring box sat a small, dainty white gold ring. The band was thin with a delicate filigree pattern carved into it, making it look as if the small red ruby was being supported by the most delicate of vines and leaves. “When I was human, young couples would use promise rings to announce their intentions. We are too young to get married.” I gave Edward a knowing look at that, and he tried to hide his smirk, we both knew only one of us was too young, but I didn’t say anything and let him continue. “But I do intend to ask you to marry me.” Edward’s eyes flickered from the ring to my face, his face was soft with love, his eyes glistening with his deep affection for me. “One day.” He promised.

 

So this is…” I paused for a second while I found the words, “This is you saying that you promise to propose to me, one day.” I waited for a second and Edward nodded in affirmation, “And by accepting it, I am promising to say yes?” I guessed.

 

E dward’s gentle smile turned into a grin, “That’s right.”

 

I matched his grin with my own, “Then of course I accept.”

 

Edward leaned over and pressed a chaste kiss against my lips, and I fought against the urge to tug on his shirt and pull him into a deeper kiss. I let Edward pull away and he plucked the ring from the velvet lined box, and took my right hand in his. He gently slipped it onto my ring finger, and it sat there. A perfect fit.

 

 

Fin .

 

 

A/N: And now, by popular demand, some of Charlie’s backstory. Enjoy. Trigger Warning for extreme violence and sexual assault.

 

 

 

The sounds of screaming is what first woke me. I say first woke me, because the sounds were so distant and so foreign that my sleep muddled brain wasn’t convinced they were entirely real. And so I dozed, half conscious until my older brother came and jolted me awake. Forcing me to face my new reality.

 

Charles! Wake up!” Large hands shook my shoulders forcefully, my brother’s voice was a loud whisper. “We are under attack!” Frederick’s face was pinched, I could see the fevered terror in his eyes, and the effort he was making to squash it down. Those sort of emotions could be dealt with later, when we weren’t fighting for our lives.

 

I forced myself out of bed, throwing on trousers and a shirt and vest. I was buckling my scabbard hastily when I asked. “Attacked? By who?” I hissed through the darkness. The Swan pack had enemies, but none that we were in direct conflict with at the moment. Or at least that is what I had thought.

 

Vampires.” Frederick hissed back, “The Volturi.”

 

The shock of it was like a slap in the face, “The Volturi? That doesn’t make any sense brother!” I argued as I pulled on my boots, “They are our allies , our friends!”

 

Yes, well I’ll be sure to tell them that while they are busy besieging our estate!” Frederick growled as he curled a fist around the lapels of shirt to haul me to my feet. I stumbled slightly, but quickly regained my balance. I could smell it now, the smoke of fires burning, and the rotten smell of death that clung to all vampires. “I sent Marie to the nursery, to get the children.” Frederick whispered to me as he cracked open my door to glimpse into the hall outside. “Nora is already leading the older ones through the passage in the kitchens.”

 

M y tongue felt like sand in my mouth, and it took a moment to find my voice. “Where are Mother and Father?” I croaked, instantly cursing my traitorous voice for betraying just how frightened I was. I was barely 19, an adult by all accounts, but looking back on it, I was just a child.

 

We all were.

 

F rederick, the oldest had just turned 2 4 winter just passed. Marie was a year older than myself, and Nora, my youngest sibling was approaching 17.

 

I do not know.” Frederick answered, and once he deemed the hallway safe he threw open the door and led the way out. “I have been trying to find them, but it’s chaos. I decided to come find you, and head through the passage way. If Mother and Father are still alive, they will know where to find us.”

 

T ightness gripped my throat as his words. Why would the Volturi attack us? We had been their allies ever since they seized control from the Romanian Coven, none of this made sense.

 

W e moved as quickly and quietly as we could, sticking our backs to the walls and doing our best to not rush towards the sounds of screaming. It pained me, but Frederick was right. We had to leave. Protect our family, our pack. All the others here in the estate, werewolves who were sworn to our family as servants and the like, would have to fend for themselves. The urge to protect them regardless was strong, their agonising screams echoed in my mind.

 

W e descended the stairs, and hurried our way outside. The sight that greeted us in the courtyard froze me in place, and Frederick once again saved my life by pulling me down and into the cover of the garden bushes. In the middle of the stone courtyard was our father, he was in his wolf form, dark grey fur matted with blood. He was growling and thrashing, but it was no use, four cloaked figures held him tightly, pinning his body to the ground. I watched with wide, terrified eyes as a tall man with stunningly white blonde hair approached my father. I knew this vampire, I had met with him on numerous occasions. Caius, one of the Three Kings. With a cruel smirk on his blood-splattered face he walked towards my father.

 

Oh how the mighty have fallen.” He sneered. Caius raised his hand, in it he gripped the hilt of a sword, an imposing claymore that glistened in the firelight. He touched it gently, almost lovingly, against my father’s shoulder and I watched as my father yelped and writhed as his skin erupted in blistering burns. Silver. Then, Caius raised the sword over his head and swung it down, severing my father’s head in one clean motion.

 

I started to leap forward, to charge against my father’s murderer, but I felt my brother’s hand holding my shoulder. Holding me back. I stared at him, what was he doing? Our father had just been butchered like an animal and he was stopping me from exacting my vengeance? Frederick slowly shook his head at me. Not now. His eyes told me. We can not get vengeance if we are killed. We have to survive.

 

I nodded stiffly. I could feel pain prickling in my hands, and I did nothing to stop my fingernails from sliding free to be replaced by sharp canine claws. I felt my teeth loosen, and as Frederick led me along the edges of the courtyard, keeping to the shadows and moving silently in the bushes, I slowly spat them out onto the ground to be replaced by pointed fangs. This is where I halted my transformation, needing to remain in a more human form for a little while longer, but feeling a sense of comfort and strength from these canine elements.

 

Finally, we reached the edge of the courtyard and ducked down between the space between two buildings. I pushed Caius’ sing-songy voice taunting us from the courtyard, declaring our leader dead, into the back of my mind. I ignored the screams of women being brutalised before they were granted the mercy of death. These things would do nothing but distract me from my current goal. Get out. Survive. Get revenge. I would have to deal with the emotional damage these sounds dealt to my soul later. I let it all fade away to a horrible static, let my mind zero in on its task. I distanced myself from my body, from my mind, so it was no longer me who was witnessing these atrocities. It wasn’t me who snuck past a vampire as he savagely raped Caroline, a kind woman who was my nursemaid when I had been a child. It was someone else who met her eye. Someone else who ignored her silent plea for help. Someone else. Someone else.

 

 

 

A more familiar scream cut through the static, and I turned to see the nursery building on fire. It was my sister’s screams that pulled me back into my body, her screams for help being met with hideous laughter. The doors to the nursery had been barred shut, as had the windows, and as the flames grew I could see little hands reaching through the gaps between the planks of wood , grasping helplessly at empty air. My feet were stuck on the stones, unable to move as I listened to Marie’s wailing cries for help. For mercy. If not for her, then for the children, the babies.

 

I felt Frederick’s hand tug on my shirt sleeve, “Move! Charles we have to move! ” He hissed at me, but he couldn’t stop himself from glancing towards the burning building. “ There is nothing we can do for her.” He hissed in my ear, hot breath fanning over my neck. Nothing we can do. I knew I should keep moving, the vampires were busy enjoying the spectacle of a burning building filled with children. Children being suffocated by smoke, children howling for their mother’s as they burnt to death. More vampire’s arrived to watch the show, and so we used my sister’s harrowing death as a distraction as we darted across the lane and into the kitchens.

 

W e were greeted with more blood, more death, and I tried not to count the bodies as I stepped over them. I counted them anyway, the number seared itself in my mind like a brand. I tried not to take notice of their faces, but I couldn’t help myself from recognising them. Cooks and maids, I knew the names of each one. I knew which ones would turn a blind eye to me nicking a bottle of whisky from the cellar, and which ones would report me to my father. No one would be reporting back to my father now. They were all dead. So was he. There were others in here too. Near the corner I spied my aunt, her half-transformed head cut clean from her shoulders and laying in a pool of blood on the stone floor. Her children, my cousins, were near her. Their mutilated corpses tucked into the corner as if they had tried to hide from their attackers. My aunt had died defending her cubs, so close to the hidden passage-way. They didn’t make it. I wondered who else had managed to get this far, only to be cut down.

 

T he sting of bile rose in my throat, and I pushed it away. The screams were lessening now. The fight almost over. Fight . It wasn’t a fight. It was a massacre. Our time was running out, once the Volturi were finished with their fun they would start to hunt down the survivors. Track down any who had hidden away in cupboards or under beds.

 

T here’s nothing I can do for them . I had to remind myself.

 

Fredrick led the way down into the cellar, and I was shocked by the lack of chaos in here. No blood. No bodies. No evidence of a struggle at all. Had no one else made it this far? What of Nora and the others? Frederick counted the wooden panels in the wall under his breath, and once he found the right one his fingertips grazed across the top of it, searching blindly for the hidden switch. With a muted click, the hidden doorway swung open and revealed the passageway beyond.

 

Come on, Charles.” Frederick urged.

 

I squared my shoulders and nodded, stepping blindly into the tunnel. Frederick closed the door behind us, casting us in complete darkness. I heard Frederick pressing against the door, ensuring it was closed securely behind us. I turned just in time to see him lower a thick metal beam across, preventing anyone else from following us.

 

What are you doing?!” I demanded in a lowered growl, “If you do that no one else will be able to use the passageway!”

 

Exactly!” Frederick growled back,

 

What of survivors?” I challenged.

 

You saw what I did, Charles. There is no one else coming!” He spat back at me. I didn’t have a response, and my brother shouldered past me and started to make his way down the tunnel.

 

T he catacombs under the estate were a maze, deadly to those who did not know the way. Miles of tunnels lead in no discernible pattern, built so that in the event of attack we could escape, and if we were pursued, our attackers would be more likely to become lost than they were to find us.

 

W e hurried along, knowing the way out by heart. The silence of the tunnels felt stifling after the terrible noise of the massacre above. Finally, we could see light up ahead, the exit was within reach.

 

T he tunnels opened up into a hillside, some miles away from the estate. Surrounded by dense woodlands, it provided some cover for our escape.

 

Frederick! Charles!” An urgent whisper called to us from the shadows, and I saw Nora’s head appear from behind a fallen log. Behind her were three of our younger cousins, eyes red and faces tear-stained.

 

I felt my fangs recede back into human teeth, but I kept my claws, just in case. “Nora.” I breathed in relief. Frederick and I hurried over to our sister, and we pulled her into a tight hug. She clung to us and I felt her body shudder as she took a deep breath. She was trying her best to remain calm, but she was struggling to keep it together. Every ounce of her wanted to break down and cry, but she couldn’t. Not yet. Neither could I, even though I wanted to.

 

Where is everyone else? Marie?” Nora whispered,

 

There is no one else.” I replied calmly, “It’s just us.” Nora’s eyes filled with tears, and she lost control as a sob broke free of her chest. I pulled her against me, holding her tightly, and I let her tears soak into my shirt. I carded a gentle hand through her long brown hair, “It’s just us.” I repeated solemnly.