As I’m running through the forest, hundreds of thoughts are racing through my mind. I know Marcus is running behind me. He’s too afraid to run next to me. I didn’t think I was that intimidating. I don’t even have a gift like my sister, Kate. It’s not like I can zap him or anything. But I think even subconsciously I know why he’s weary of me or of my reaction to him, rather. I may not be the smartest vampire on earth, but I wasn’t born yesterday, either. I think that Irina’s message that I couldn’t decipher before had to do with Marcus. I mean, before he told his unbelievable story today regarding being related to Alexander, all I could do was to equate him with the Volturi.
And how could I not? My first memory of Marcus was when he and the Volturi came and killed my mother and the immortal child she created without our knowledge. I know she did it so that the Volturi would spare our lives since we knew nothing about him. Why had she created him? Didn’t she know that immortal children were one of the biggest no no’s of our existence? She was risking her life and she knew it. Just thinking about that time made me shudder. I know that movement startled Marcus because he looked at me confused as we continued to run.
But now with this new revelation, even that event is questionable. Sure Marcus was there, but did he ever say anything? No, he hadn’t had he. He was there only in bodily form, but now thinking about it through none frightened or panicky eyes, he was barely noticeable. He just stood there. I remember Bella mentioning during that battle where Nessie’s life was in danger that his expression seemed bored. It wasn’t bored, though, it was vacant. As in no one was home upstairs, if you get my drift. It was this same way he looked as Aro, Caius, and Jane cruelly destroyed my mother and that child. At least they spared the three of us. Irina never got over it. Even her relationship with Laurent—if you could call it that—wasn’t a fulfilling thing. She cared for him much more than he ever cared for her. I think he used her in order to get closer to the Cullen’s; his only real alliance was with that bitch, Victoria. Which makes the fact that the wolves got rid of him all the more understandable.
It makes me ache so much that Irina never found happiness and met such an early and untimely death. My only consolation is that she’s with our mother now. Maybe she’s finally at peace and that’s why she had come to me with that message of hers: “Don’t be afraid to love. Even someone who seems unlovable”.
And that brings me back to Marcus. If he hadn’t told us everything he had, he would not only seem unlovable but actually be unlovable; he still would be a total and complete monster to me no matter what anyone else said. That would then beg the question: If he was a monster and we didn’t know all of this stuff, would Rogue have executed him like she did the other Volturi members? I’m sure she would have. She, after all, knows him and knew them for 3,000 some odd years.
Now, though everything had changed. I noticed his attraction toward me almost from the beginning of his arrival here. And I must admit I have felt something for him, too. But until he told us what he did, I still considered him the unlovable monster. Now I can’t think of him that way. But can I change such a horrendous past now that it has changed? Can my heart forgive a soul just as innocent as myself now realized? I don’t know if I can answer those questions, but perhaps he can help me. That’s why I asked him to join me. We really needed to talk.
After running for about 20 miles north, I finally stopped. Marcus stopped a few feet behind me and waited for me to figure out the next step. I closed my eyes and took a nice deep breath. Then a breeze came in from the east and with it a nice juicy smell of bear. Oh yeah baby! Let’s get it on! I took off running east after it and Marcus followed suit. When we were about 120 yards from the bear when we stopped. I looked at the bear and pointed him out to Marcus who smiled, nodded, then ran up the tree to stay out of my way.
Showtime! I crept up on the bear as it was walking around. It felt that something was near him and whirled around. He lunged at me but I dodged him without a problem. He tried again with the same result. Marcus laughed, getting the bear’s attention. Just as the animal looked up at Marcus, I flew at it and went straight for the jugular. Fifteen seconds later: game over. I was full; that was a pretty large bear. Now it was Marcus’ turn. He came down from the tree, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. With the wind blowing nicely it didn’t take long before he smelled a cougar. He took off like a bat out of hell after it. I followed him with a smile.
The cougar was sitting on a tree branch. I scampered up on a tree not far from it so it couldn’t see me. Meanwhile, Marcus moved ever so slowly and then he did a movement so new to me, that it took me a moment to digest it. Instead of just leaping onto the branch or swinging from higher branch onto the one the cat was perched on, he hopped onto a rock, cartwheeled over another rock and then leapt into the air while performing a full somersault and then landed on the branch where the cat was up to this moment laying lazily. Talk about some serious Cirque du Soliel! I wasn’t sure whether he was just being creative or trying to impress me—or both.
Needless to say the cougar was startled by all the theatrics. It screeched at him. Marcus smiled and sauntered over to it. Then with one fell swoop he had the animal by the throat and had sunk his teeth into its neck. Yum! He was done with the big cat sooner than I had finished with the bear. At least he was full. He then hopped off the branch lightly; no more cartwheels. He started walking south and I followed him, wondering where he was going. Before we knew it we had reached a river and a bluff overlooking it. He sat on a log and I joined him. We sat like that in silence for a while.
He took a deep breath before he spoke. “I know you must hate me,” he said softly.
I was stunned. “Wha—I don’t hate you . . . Where did that come from?” I asked him.
“Because of your mother and your sister. We killed them . . . destroyed them. You can never have them back.”
“Yes . . . they’re gone. But Marcus, you didn’t kill them. They did. The Volturi did,” I said slowly.
“I was with the Volturi. I did nothing to stop it. I allowed all of it to happen.”
“I understand that. But you said it yourself today: you are related to Alexander and you always voted against the killings. So even though physically you were there, you didn’t actually do anything.” I told him.
“Do you truly believe that?” His voice sounded hopeful yet incredibly unsure.
“I do. I must admit when you first arrived I still kind of wanted to kick your ass into next week. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It just didn’t seem right—especially after what Rogue had already revealed about you before she destroyed the Volturi. And then after you told us the rest today, I knew I had to look at you through different eyes, so to speak,” I explained.
He was staring at me by this time. “Does that mean . . . you forgive me?” he asked, astonished.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. I forgive you, Marcus.” I looked him straight in the eye.
He hung his head than and his shoulders started going up and down like he was crying. He was dry sobbing and I just wasn’t sure what to do. But I just trusted my instinct, and it’s as if suddenly I heard Irina’s voice in my head again urging me to do it. That’s when I put my arm around his shoulders and started to sooth him. Poor man; not many have suffered as much as he has. I mean to lose his wife at the hands of her own brother and not even know it until Rogue revealed all. 3,000 years not knowing—it’s horrendous. At least with my mother and Irina, I knew who was responsible and I had some sort of closure. Especially after Irina came to me and told me she was safe and happy as was our mother. But Marcus never got that chance at peace.
He finally was able to speak again. “Tanya, I wanted to tell you this but was and am petrified of your reaction. I don’t want to scare you away,” he said looking at me. Our faces were inches apart.
“Tell me what? I’m a tough broad, you can tell me anything,” I asked softly, though in the deepest part of my heart I already knew.
“I didn’t think it would be even remotely possible after losing Didyme. I didn’t think my heart would work again or feel the same way again. Well same way but at the same time different. What I’m trying to say is that as soon as I saw you that first day of my arrival, my dead heart turned over like it hadn’t in 2,500 years. You’re so strong, have a wonderful personality, sense of humor, and are breathtakingly stunning. Somewhere between that day and today I-I fell in love with you, Tanya.” He was looking at me so earnestly. I wanted to cry too.
“Oh Marcus. I don’t know what to say.” I spoke in a whisper.
“You don’t have to say anything—I understand,” he told me with a sigh and started to look away. I put my hand on his cheek to bring him back to looking at me.
“No, that’s not what I meant. Please let me finish. I have felt something for you too. I was just too afraid to think about what it could be. And then after you told us all of this new stuff it made me think that my feelings for you could actually be possible and they wouldn’t hurt me to have. That they would in fact help to heal both me and you.” As I was speaking, his eyes got rounder and rounder until they were nearly popping out of his head.
“So does that mean that you actually could like me?” he questioned, his voice shaking so that it was barely audible.
“No. It means that I could actually love you.” When those words left my mouth, they felt so right.
I think it took Marcus a good five minutes to process what I just said, to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. I kind of had to giggle internally at his reaction. Men were so silly sometimes. But in this case I can understand his fear. He’s not thought about love in thousands of years and had been a totally empty dead shell and now here was his opportunity to actually find and actually receive love after all.
To affirm my last statement and make him understand I was very serious in fact, I then said, “You’re not unlovable anymore. You’ve never been. You just needed and need to figure that out. I already have…..for both of us.” That got his attention back to the present. Finally he looked at me with a face so full of love and passion it took my breath away.
“May I . . . uh, kiss you?” he asked gently.
I didn’t even hesitate. “Yes.”
And with that he put both hands on either side of my face and tenderly kissed me on the lips. The kiss deepened as both of our passions took over. It felt so natural to kiss him. When we finally parted we sat there holding each other, knowing full well neither of our lives would ever be the same, in a good way. Neither of us was alone anymore. And how freaking amazing was that? We smiled at each other.
Without warning a pair of arms grabbed me from behind before I could even react. By the sound of Marcus’ gasp I figured the same thing happened to him. Before I could even attempt to fight off my unseen attacker I was lifted into the air and was high above the trees.
Then I heard, “Greetings folks! Figured you’d both need a lift home?”
It was a female’s voice who I instantly recognized: Rogue. I looked over to see Alexander holding Marcus who by now was smiling from ear to ear. I looked behind us and saw the full armada of Watchers flying behind us in a tight formation all smiling. They were home! And didn’t that just make everyone instantly happy. Now everyone was going to be happy to have everyone in one place.
As we soared across the sky, I happened to look down and saw a translucent silhouette floating above the ground. She looked at me and I knew it was Irina bidding me her final goodbye. I had fulfilled her message to me and now she was free to go enjoy the afterlife with our mother. She smiled and blew me a kiss and I returned the gesture.
I whispered, “I love you Irina. Be at peace always.” And with that she disappeared. As we continued to fly toward the house, I sighed gently. Everything was falling into place in my own life finally and so I relaxed and enjoyed the view.
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