Chapter Eight - Happy Endings

Aro's POV

Hearing the wild cheers coming from the library, I knew that the army had been defeated and none of my beloved guard members had been slaughtered with them. I smiled and stood, Renata frantically "attaching" herself to my cloak as she realized where I planned on going, in case any newborns had managed to survive.

I quickly stroked Renata's head and cooed, "There is nothing to fear, dear Renata."

She gazed up at me with love-filled eyes, nodding slowly and saying, "But I must stay close by you nevertheless, master."

"Of course," I replied, strolling down the hall toward the library doors. As I observed the doors, I noted that they were torn slightly off their hinges and briefly wondered how much damage had been done on the inside. Convincing myself that the damage - no matter how extensive - would be insignificant, I delicately opened the doors and saw a magnificent scene before me.

Everywhere, members of the guard were cheering and smiling. This was not typical among my guard. They tended to be very professional after winning a battle. But I assume that because this attack was completely unexpected, they were caught off guard and celebrating seemed like the appropriate thing to do.

I was already smiling at this scene, but something else that I saw made my smile widen and my eyes brighten. In the far right corner of the room, there was Eleazar, holding Carmen so tightly in his arms that it seemed as though she might burst, kissing her with the sort of passion that only comes around in situations as dire as this one. I realized then that my previous plans would be futile. Murdering Carmen in order to keep Eleazar would render Eleazar completely useless as a member of the guard, no matter how much I tried to make him useful.

I clapped twice and everyone snapped out of their celebration to stare at me. Even Eleazar slowly drew his lips back from Carmen's, but kept her in his tight embrace, to look at me.

"It seems quite appropriate to celebrate this, dear ones. Defeating an army which attacked without warning with no casualties on our side is a feat for merriment," my gaze passed over each member of the guard. "Perhaps now those who attempt to overthrow us in the future will look back on this moment and reconsider their thoughts.

"Now, I would like you all to please return to your usual posts with celebration in mind. I shall send someone to tidy the library." I directed my gaze toward Eleazar and Carmen. "Eleazar, Carmen, please come with me."

Eleazar reluctantly released Carmen, instead grabbing hold of her hand. Both followed Renata and I back to the throne room. I could practically feel the warmth radiating from Carmen's bright, joyus smile. As we entered the large, marble room, Marcus did something that I had not seen him do in thousands of years as his gaze fell on Carmen and Eleazar. He smiled.

The smile was slight; not much of a smile at all by the standards of a person not suffering from his type of extreme depression. But it was a smile. I acted as though I did not notice this as I turned to address Carmen and Eleazar, but the couple did nothing to hide their surprise.

Eleazar was gaping and his eyes were wide. Carmen had an expression full of bewilderment and wonder etched across her beautiful face. But only seconds later, Marcus' countenance returned to its norm (all that remained of his moment of happiness was his gleaming eyes) and Eleazar and Carmen were shaken from their reverie.

"Eleazar," I said. He blinked and gazed at me. "Myself and my brothers owe you a great debt for the aid that you gave us, and for the valiance you harbored during this battle. Grazie."

Eleazar nodded and smiled, wrapping his right arm around Carmen's small waist. "Prego."

I switched my eyes to Carmen's. "Carmen, my dear, this was quite unexpected of you." I chuckled. "Who knew that someone as small and delicate-looking as you could have so much might?"

She laughed softly. "I am not proud of how many innocent lives I took today."

I nodded solemnly and replied, "I understand."

Suddenly, Marcus spoke behind me. Eleazar's and Carmen's unnaturally golden eyes switched to his. Quietly, he croaked, "Carmen, would you come here please?"

Eleazar stared at him, confused, and released Carmen's hand. Slowly, Carmen approached Marcus' throne-like chair and smiled warmly. "Yes, Marcus?" she replied, acting as though his addressing her was completely normal.

Marcus smiled again as he gazed at her. This time I could not hide my surprise. My brother smiling twice in one day was completely unusual - it was as if he was under some sort of spell.

"I must say…," he said slowly, "you remind me so much of someone from my past…" Marcus sighed with a longing in his eyes.

Carmen caught on to whom he meant quickly and smiled, surprised by his ardor. "Oh…" she replied.

Eleazar was continuously blinking; he could not believe what he was hearing.

"Thank you for assisting us, Carmen," Marcus said softly, and his gaze turned to Eleazar. "You as well, Eleazar."

The couple nodded and Carmen stepped down, returning to Eleazar's side.

I finally spoke. "Yes, thank you again. I suppose you two must be on your way home."

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