I know it's been awhile, and I can't thank you all enough for sticking this out with me. Thanks to my team, and all of you, for pushing me!

This is the absolute last thing he wants to do on his wedding day.

Behind a plume of smoke brought forth from his lips, he stands outside his pub and watches as the city slowly comes to life. As dawn approaches, the brick buildings are tinged in a mixture of soft gray and yellow, with the rising sun hidden behind a layer of clouds.

As the businesses around him prepare for the workday ahead, his eyes scan the streets for any signs of disturbance, looking for anything unusual.

Above anything, Edward needs today to seem like any other day.

No matter how many times he tries to convince himself of that, he knows it could not be further from the truth. How could today be an ordinary day when he and Isabella will be married by noon, and Marcus Volturi will be dead at approximately the same time?

If everything goes according to plan, that is.

This is the reason he stands here outside of The Lost Key, waiting for Emmett and several of his other men to join him. They're needed to ensure things will run smoothly in Edward's absence. He is more than apprehensive about this happening in the light of day, but the wedding has proven to be the ultimate alibi for Edward, Isabella, and everyone involved.

Originally, his mind had soured at the idea of his wedding being used as anything other than what it should be: a celebration of his promise to Isabella to love and protect her for the rest of her life. But the more he and his men had discussed their plan behind closed doors, the more it made sense to kill Marcus at the same time as his wedding. The nuptials would not only be a necessary alibi for them all but also a great distraction to the people of the city. The more distracted everyone was, the better. Word had spread about the time and location, and though they all wanted to keep the affair as small as they could, Edward realized how all this could work in their favor.

They have been watching Marcus for weeks – years, if Edward is being honest with himself – so they are aware of his every move. They know his routine for every day and night of the week; like Marcus, Edward has eyes and ears all over the city.

Knowing Marcus' routine had made it easy for them to decide when and how it would be done. Habitually, Marcus heads to the docks every Saturday morning to wait for his weekly shipment – and so will Jared, a man who has made a name for himself in the city for finding ways to slip in and out of crowds undetected. He didn't hesitate when propositioned for the job. Of course, Edward was nowhere around when Jared was asked to take out Marcus Volturi. There are men, even on the outer ridge of his influence, that Edward can trust to keep secrets and get the jobs done – whatever those jobs may be.

This is the first time I have asked for murder, Edward thinks to himself as he leans against the door of his pub, his cigarette pinched between his lips. His face is hidden behind a cloud of smoke once more, disguising the worry that lies beneath his composed surface.

Some days, he hates the man he has been forced to become.

"Paul has been tracking the logs at the dock," Emmett advises once his men have arrived. "All is set to arrive on schedule."

"Good," Edward breathes, snuffing out the last of his cigarette beneath his shoe. "I do not want to hear a word of this until it's done."

One thing is certain about today: not a single moment of their wedding will be diverted because of their plans involving Marcus. Besides a solitary, minute signal to Edward from Emmett, not a breath of their plan will be acknowledged.

It is imperative that besides those necessary to the plan, no one else will find out what is happening while Edward and Isabella are married by the Justice of the Peace. All eyes will be on them as they promise their lives to one another. All ears will be focused on their vows and not the silenced gun aimed at Marcus' heart as Jared, among the crowd, walks by on the docks around town.

"This will work," Emmett tells him one last time before they disperse to their prospective positions for the remainder of the day.

"Marcus Volturi's rule over this city ends today," Edward replies, looking into the eyes of the men he trusts most.

Then he turns and leaves them all.


"I never thought I'd see my brother get married," Victoria sighs as she stands behind Isabella at the vanity in her room at Rosalie's place. The early rays of the sun lighten her space as they slowly begin to prepare themselves for Isabella's wedding day.

Staring at Victoria in the mirror's reflection, Isabella's eyes meet hers softly. "Is it strange?"

"No, I'm happy for him. And for you," Victoria answers with a shake of her head. She thinks for a moment before adding quietly, "Edward has waited a long time for this kind of happiness."

She thinks of their lives growing up and how Edward had always been the one to sacrifice his happiness for the sake of others. He had spent his whole life making sure Victoria was safe and sound and had pushed his own needs to the side. She is happy his time has finally come.

"Just like he has waited for yours?" Isabella asks, and Victoria's lips turn up into a small smile.

"I know it's hard to believe, but I think I can see myself getting there. Being happy."

Isabella looks at the woman behind her, a woman who, in a few short hours, will become her sister-in-law. She never thought she would say this, but she and Victoria have become friends over the last several months, and Isabella is so incredibly grateful to have someone like her become family. She turns in her seat, grasping Victoria's hand in her own, and is relieved that Victoria doesn't push her away like she would have in the past.

"Look, I know you probably knew my brother better than I ever did," Isabella says. "But I do know he would want you to be happy – in whatever way you can." Wherever that may be, doing whatever allows her to keep pushing forward without him. Isabella would prefer if those plans could include her niece in some way, but she knows now is not the time to broach that subject.

"I know," Victoria sighs. "Sometimes I can think of him now without feeling like my heart is breaking into a thousand pieces."

"I know the feeling," Isabella replies, and she feels the regret sitting upon her shoulders once more. "I can't help but want him to be here today with me."

Victoria nods, saying nothing else. She could say that he is there with them today, but it would only be words and not the reality they both want more than anything. On the other hand, they both know they would not be here today if James were alive. Their lives would be so irrevocably different from the path they are both currently on.

They would not be embracing each other as sisters right now if things had gone differently.

"You're not coming with us?" Rosalie asks later after they have dressed Isabella in her wedding gown. Delicate lace cascades over her body, from her wrists all the way to the train, which is carefully fanned behind her. The neckline is bold, plunging slightly to balance with the demure and delicate fabric.

Victoria shakes her head and holds back the tears in her eyes as she pulls her eyes away from her brother's bride. "I'll meet you there. I have to take care of some things first."


While Rosalie and Isabella make their way to the courthouse, Victoria makes her way through the mid-morning light to Dark Shadows. Like most mornings these last few weeks, she knows she'll be granted permission to enter Marcus' pub despite the early hour. She has been in and out of his tavern at all hours of the day and night for as long as she has known him; her presence will not be questionable. Ever since she swiped his watch all those weeks ago, she has made sure to see him daily, paying him visits as often as she could to share a drink, and a fuck, to ensure the success of her plan.

Each time she sees him, she can tell it's working.

She can see how he tries to cover his weaknesses, but the lesions that mar his hands, the pallor of his skin, the sunken cheeks, and chapped lips are giveaways.

Slipping a little powdered arsenic in his drink over time will make him suffer longer, and his symptoms can be attributed to a variety of other ailments that will not be traced back to her.

Or to Edward.

Not that Edward has any idea about what she's doing.

This time, Victoria will be the key that locks this door for good.

As predicted, his men let her in once Marcus is ready for her. She knows the way to his office like the back of her hand. She has entered his realm each time with a sense of defeat; another victory handed to him each time he thought his power over her had won. But today, Victoria holds her head high, and an almost visceral feeling of triumph has her knocking on Marcus' door with confidence.

Confidence in the fact that this will soon be over for all of them.

Confidence in the fact that she will be the one who will know the exact time Marcus' life began to end.

Confidence in the fact that James will finally receive the justice he deserves.

Even if that means Victoria must take it into her own hands to get it.

At this point, she has absolutely nothing left to lose.

"Morning," Victoria says once he has opened the door. Marcus steps aside for her, and she stares at him as he shuts the door slowly behind them; it's strange to watch a man's final actions, especially when the man in front of her has no idea that every move he makes will be his last.

It fills her with immense power to know she holds the key to his undoing.

"I assume you're here to tell me you won't be working because of the wedding of the year," Marcus says with a slight sneer on his ugly face, clearing his throat as he moves to sit behind his desk.

His words do not affect her. What she is about to do is the only thing she focuses on. "I worked all night to make up for it."

It isn't a lie. After he had left the night before, and almost until the moment Isabella had woken to prepare for the wedding, Victoria had worked and pocketed and prepared for this moment.

His last.

Victoria knows the wedding and the celebrations afterward will take up most of the day, night, and possibly the early hours into the following morning. She wants to be present, physically and most importantly, mentally, for her brother and Isabella. She has run and hidden and misplaced blame for far too long. It's a burden she no longer wishes to carry.

And the only thing keeping her from the rest of her life is the man in front of her.

Victoria reaches into her dress and hands him what he is owed from her hours worked in advance.

Marcus Volturi never wears his heart on his sleeve; it wouldn't be possible because he doesn't have one. His face, always void of any trace of human emotion, remains untelling – except for the slight rise of his eyebrow that most people wouldn't see.

But Victoria sees.

The wad of cash in his hand is impressive, and even though it should be enough to pacify him for just one night, she knows he will never agree to it.

It's not just about the revenue his girls bring in.

It's the power.

He knows Edward's wedding is where she wants to be and keeping her from going probably has him swelling in his pants.

She can take his cock one last time. She's prepared for it. She prefers it this way. She wants to see the control slip away from his grasp at a time when he thinks he has it most.

She'll fuck him her way this time.

"Everyone in the city is planning on going," Marcus says, lifting a cigar to his mouth and lighting it. She watches as his lungs pull in the thick smoke with ease, and she almost laughs at the thought of how his lungs will be in a few minutes' time.

But unlike Marcus, she doesn't give away her secrets with a rise of a single eyebrow.

She keeps her voice calm and steady; she won't be betrayed by it any longer. "It's all everyone's talking about."

Marcus stares at her for a moment, leaning back in his chair as his eyes linger behind a decision. He steeples his fingers in front of his face, the smoke from the cigar mixing into the jet black of his hair.

"You can go," Marcus says eventually, after weighing it over in his mind. "But you'll be working there."

"You know Edward won't allow it."

"Since when do I care about what the fuck Edward Cullen allows?"

Victoria wants to smile. She wants to tell him about Edward's plan to kill him – right before she steals his last breath. She wants to tell him that something in her has changed. She isn't the same girl she was when she first crossed his path, and one day, she plans on sorting through all the changes in her life and all the people she found along the way who helped shape her into the woman standing before Marcus Volturi today.

But right now, all she can focus on is what she has to do, sooner rather than later, so she can be a part of her brother's day. The same brother who never stopped searching for her, no matter how determined she was to stay hidden.

"What is it about him that you dislike so much?" Victoria asks, and her eyes never leave his as he contemplates what to say next. She wonders if anyone has ever dared to question him once in his entire life, and it's liberating to think she may be the first one to do it.

The last one, as well.

Instead of answering her, he stands and walks to the bar in his office, reaching for the crystal decanter that will ultimately be his demise.

She just has to distract him enough to slip it into his drink unknowingly.

Today will be different. Today, she will empty the remnants of the powdered arsenic into his drink, making the final dose lethal – no matter what it takes.

"He'll be busy enough today for you to do your job without any distractions," Marcus says, filling two glasses with whisky before handing one to her. Over the weeks, she has perfected the art of the pretend sip, cautiously aware of how close her lips must be to the swirling liquid to convince Marcus she has joined him in a shared drink.

As smart as Marcus is, Victoria thrills at how his arrogance makes him vulnerable to all of it.

Pride does come before a fall.

"As you wish," Victoria relents, placing her glass on the desk before moving to sit on top of it. She lets her legs slide open, her dress revealing a swatch of pale skin above her thigh that Marcus follows with his eyes. She leans back, knowing he'll take the bait simply for the ego boost of him thinking she wants him more than all the others she takes. "But you know there's only one I want the most."

She can smile coyly. She can strip her clothes off the way the others sometimes like.

But she knows what he likes.

And she lets him think he'll have his way with her once again, knowing full well the minute the opportunity presents itself, she will end his life the way he thought he had ended hers the night he killed James.

Like she thought he would, he wants her bent over his desk. He wants to see her with her skirts up, her confidence lowered, and her face down like the whore who doesn't deserve to be called by a name.

And she'll start that way, sure.

But it won't be for long.

"Here," Victoria says before he turns her around, his hands already drifting beneath the slip Rosalie let her borrow. She makes sure to hand him his drink, full of the invisible poison that has been a long time coming. She makes sure he tips his all the way back as far as he can, makes sure he drains every last drop before she does his work for him, and bends over his desk in front of his chair.

It's always transactional. He palms himself ready, assuming her desire has made her ready, as well. But Victoria knows he never really gives a thought to whether or not his girls are ready to take him. He lines them up, and then…nothing.

He doesn't grip her hips the way he usually does. His fingers don't poke and prod without any warning.


She feels him falter rather than seeing, but when she does turn her head over her shoulder, she sees him stagger backward into a minor stumble. But it's enough to land him in his chair, and she sees the moment she has been waiting for.

She pushes him back further into the seat so she can climb on top of him, her legs straddling his thighs as her eyes lock on the panic in his.

She wastes no time covering his mouth with her hand, pushing down the part of her that revels in the power coursing through her blood. She leans down close to him, almost laughing at how his body is failing as the seconds tick by on his pocket watch.

"It needs to sound real," Victoria whispers into his ear as he grasps at his throat with weak hands. She watches as his chest rises and falls rapidly, searching for any ounce of air he is lucky to get as the poison infiltrates his system.

"It won't be long now," Victoria practically coos as she watches the pallor of his skin change beneath her. "It'll be much faster to kill you than it was for you to kill James."

She watches as his eyes widen, realization dawning through the haze of his slow suffocation.

"I will be going to my brother's wedding today," Victoria whispers, sliding her hand slightly so it covers both his mouth and his nostrils. "And after that, I'll be leaving this city for good. As will you, of course, but I won't be going to hell like you." She pauses, a laugh coming from deep within her. "Maybe I will after now, but maybe I'm okay with that."

She has to give him credit. Even as his body betrays him, he fights it. He writhes and shoves, but she's stronger than he is now, and she wants to be sure it's one of the last thoughts he has.

"I'll be leaving to be with my daughter," Victoria says. "You may have taken James from me, but I'll be damned if I let you take her, too."

Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, he hears what she says. Understands the implications behind it.

Understands that this is the end.

Understands that she will walk out of this building a few minutes later unscathed, undetected, and absolutely fucking unstoppable.


Emmett McCarty never sweats.

Not when he's lifting boxes full of ale or serving a house full of thirsty patrons by himself.

But now, as he opens the door to the courthouse, he pauses to wipe a bead of moisture as it trickles from his temple.

Marcus Volturi never showed up to retrieve his weekly shipment at the docks.

And he has to be the one to tell him on his wedding day.

He finds Rosalie in the room; the crowd is modest, and he easily makes his way to her. Victoria is next to Rosalie, and they don't notice when he slips into the row, their eyes glued to Edward and Isabella in front of them.

It's just a small gesture, a slight nod, that Emmett has been instructed to give Edward as soon as they are pronounced husband and wife. A confirmation of a task completed.

But the task was not completed. Jared was unable to get rid of Marcus because Marcus never showed up.

He never misses a shipment.

Emmett watches as Edward and Isabella separate from their first kiss as a married couple, a smile on Edward's face that Emmett has never seen before. But it's there, right after that, the look Edward sends his way.

Except Emmett can't nod with confidence. He can only shake his head and watch as Edward's face momentarily darkens.

Marcus Volturi is –


A voice shouts seconds after the door is flung open. A stranger, a random person from the streets, shouts into the courtroom. "Marcus Volturi is dead!"

It's a gleeful uproar they are all swept into.

All except for two.

Edward turns and meets the stare of his sister; words shared unspoken through a look from across the room.

It's the same look they used to give each other when they were kids—when they were thrown into another one of their mother's battles.

Except this time, there is a resolution in their gaze that sets them both at peace.

Finally, Edward thinks through muddled thoughts; he can rest.

Finally, his sister has found her way, he thinks.

The key is no longer lost.

How many of you suspected Victoria was the lost key?

Not too many chapters left, my friends. According to my outline, I have one chapter and an epilogue left, but we'll see how it pans out once I sit down to tie up some loose ends.

But let's celebrate! Marcus is gone!