Aro, Marcus and Caius stood, no, floated in a circle in the middle of the white clearing. Snow had just begun to sprinkle from the sky, however we stayed dry, Benjiman's doing, no doubt. My shield hovered around our side in an oval shape. I flexed it. Strong as ever. Suddenly, I felt jabs at every angle of the shield. I fought to keep it in place. Jane was attacking again, even after Aro commanded her not to use her evil gift. More sharp jabs, and I fought the strong urge to double over in pain. It was like the attacks were not weakening the shield, but were weakening me. The shield and I were one, and as I became weaker, so did the shield. The clearing was silent, but I couldn't keep up the facade anymore.
"Edward," I moaned. It came out as a whisper, for I could barely breathe. He was at my side in a second, his eyes concerned.
"What, what is it Bella?" he pleaded, putting his hands on my shoulders. Suddenly he looked up and growled, his shining teeth bared. I gritted my teeth as more jabs connected with the shield. As I weakened, I could feel the shots squirming their way in through the fabric, almost like a splinter. And as they hit, protruded further and further. I cried softly and Edwards hands tightened around me.
"Aro!" he roared, dropping his serene appearance. The dignified vampire did not look up from the circle of his brothers. Carlisle was on my other side.
"Bella," he started, his voice calm but urgent, "if you cannot hold any longer, drop the shield. If we must start the fight before the deliberation is over, then we will. Please, don't push yourself too much. I managed to catch my breath as I weakened the shield ever so slightly. I looked at his pale face,
"Carlisle, why is Jane attacking before they deliberate?" I was desperate for an answer. Edward answered me.
"It is what they do. They weaken their opponents so that when they give a verdict, the victims are to weak to fight them." His voice was dark. I groaned again as more jabs tried to push through my shield. My mind hurt, it was like a migraine but thousands of times worse. My head felt as if it was about to explode. My muscles ached with attempt, attempt to protect my family and friends. I had to give up. I was about to give up, let the darkness win like when I was in the Cullen's house, my home, fighting for my life. When I remembered my daughter. My gift, my Renesmee.
I flexed my shield, standing up. Edward looked shocked, as did Carlisle. But their hands didn't leave me.
"Bella, you don't have to do this," Carlisle repeated, but I could tell he needed me to do this. I needed to do this, to protect what I had been fighting for all along.
"Bella, love," was all Edward said. I looked at him and saw the plain worry on his face. My strong composure broke and I flung my arms around him. "If you go, I'm going with you," he sighed. If we could cry, I knew we would be crying right now.
I sighed, matching his level of worry. "We are not going anywhere." I sobbed once. "But Renesmee is," my voice broke. I walked over the the giant russet werewolf that now held my daughter on his back. I kissed his wet black nose, then hopped effortlessly onto his back to cradle my daughter. Edwards arms were around us in a second.
"Nessie," I cried. How could I lose her, only knowing her for a short time? It didn't seem fair, but I knew I had to let her go. I only wished I could hold her like this forever, just me, Nessie, and Edward together for all of eternity, with my shield surrounding us, protecting us. But I had other people to worry for. She had to be safe, and I knew she would be if I let Jake take her far, far away from here. I composed my face then whispered with Edward, "I love you." I kissed her forehead, then Edward leaned down and kissed the top of both of our heads. I took Nessie's locket from inside her shirt and opened it. I pointed to Edwards picture, then mine.
"More than my own life," I whispered and looked into her eyes. Tiny tears rolled down her cheeks and I swept them away gently. I hugged her, and she put her arms around my waist. Into her hair I murmered again, "I love you," then pried her delicate little hands from around me and jumped down with Edward. I blew her a kiss from the ground, then turned around to face Jacob. I took his huge head in my hands, and looked directly into his dark eyes.
"Take care of her," I said in a broken whisper. Then I leaned forward and hugged his head. He rested on my shoulder. I kissed his cheek then leaned back to look into his watery eyes again. "I love you." And I walked back to my position, back straight, chin high.
I glanced to Zafrina behind me and nodded solemly. Edward tensed next to me, and Carlisle mimicked him. I could tell everyone was ready for the fight to begin.
I hesitantly pulled the shield back to expose Zafrina, who was on the end of the second row. I watched as she closed her eyes and became perfectly still. Suddenly, everyone on the opposite side of the clearing became rowdy as they experienced Zafrina's talent. Everyone saw what Zafrina wanted them to see. They became blind. There were cries and shocked murmmers from the crowd. Jane thrashed violently and shrieked next to her brother, Alec, who stood still as a statue though I could tell he was unsettled by this blindness. Even though she couldn't see, Renata flew forward to touch Aro's back, though it did nothing. Her gift could only stop physical attacks. Aro looked amused, as if he was enjoying what he saw. Caius crouched into a defensive position, teeth bared, and Marcus stood still with no expression.
I felt the wind as Jacob rushed past the pack of vampires behind the front row. I stretched my shield to the edge of the forest and watched them sprint away. Nessie clung to his furry back and turned to look at her family once more, her face full of sadness and concern. I waved to her with a smile on my face, showing false happiness. When she and Jake were out of sight, I broke down in dry sobs, my shield evaporating.