- The Volturi arrive in rigid, perfectly synchronous formation, "a dark, unbroken shape that seemed to hover a few inches above the white snow, so smooth was the advance" (36.2). They show no surprise at the collection of vampires and werewolves before them.
- Bella counts thirty-two Volturi against nineteen fighters on the Cullen side. Behind the Volturi, more vampires appear. It turns out, the Volturi brought their own witnesses. Bella now believes that all is lost:
Even if we could somehow neutralize the Volturi's advantages, they could still bury us in bodies. (36.15)
- On the other side, Irina is horrified to face her sisters. Edward's now convinced that the Volturi have come to destroy and acquire:
They have many layers of strategy already in place. If Irina's accusation had somehow proven to be false, they were committed to find another reason to take offense. (36.21)
- When the werewolves appear (sixteen total), the Volturi come to a stop. Bella realizes that Sam brought his entire pack, because he knows that the Volturi would hunt down the rest. It pains her to image that the young werewolves will die in a fight they're surely going to lose. The injustice of it all suddenly makes her murderously enraged:
All I wanted in that moment was the chance to sink my teeth into them, to rip their limbs from their bodies and pile them for burning. (36.29)
- She's now ready to fight, focusing on Alec and Jane.
- Carlisle meets Aro, the Volturi leader, halfway. His bodyguard, Renata, accompanies Aro. Carlisle explains to him that no law has been broken. "[Renesmee] is not an immortal. She is not a vampire" (36.62). He explains that their friends are just witnesses to the truth of Renesmee's nature, and are not here to fight.
- Aro calls Irina to the front. Seeing Renesmee, she admits that the child she remembers was smaller. Aro asks for Edward to step forward, so he can read his thoughts. Catching Jane's smug smile as Edward nears the Volturi, Bella's fury peaks and she throws out her shield:
…my shield exploded a good fifty yards out from me effortlessly, taking only a fraction of my concentration. I could feel it flex like just another muscle, obedient to my will. (36.96)
- After reading Edward's thoughts, Aro realizes that Carlisle has spoken the truth. He asks to meet Renesmee. They bring her forward, guarded on both sides. Aro compliments Bella on her new looks. "Immortality suits you" (36.149). He praises Renesmee's beauty and explains to his brother Caius that Renesmee is Bella and Edward's biological child. But Caius believes they've been tricked. Aro communicates with Renesmee.
- His eyes suddenly move to Jacob, and the werewolves. Edward gathers that Aro thinks that the werewolves would make great guard dogs for the Volturi. Edward tells him that they don't follow vampire commands and are committed to protecting human life.
- Aro informs Edward that he'll have to confer with his brothers on this change of events.
- Bella hears the Volturi brothers arguing. Caius still believes that they've been deceived while Aro assures him that the Cullens are telling the truth.
- Meanwhile, the Volturi witnesses watch with confusion. Bella manages to wrap her shield around their entire group. She realizes that, when it comes to the werewolves, she only has to protect Sam, because of the pack's mental connection. "If the Alpha was inside my shield, the rest of their minds were every bit as protected as his" (37.16).
- When Caius refers to the werewolves as "Children of the Moon," and claims that they've been the Volturi's enemies since the dawn of time, Edward clarifies that Sam's pack doesn't consist of real werewolves, but shape shifters. They have merely inherited the skill to transform their bodies from their fathers. Yet, they could have taken on any form, and can't infect others the way real werewolves do.
- Aro keeps taking the Cullens' side against Caius. Bella surmises that it's because he knows that false charges won't help them convince their witnesses to side with them.
- Caius calls forth Irina. He prompts her to make an accusation against the Cullens and their relationship with the werewolves, but she admits her mistake and says that there's no reason for the Volturi to fight the Cullens.
- Caius executes her on the spot. Bella realizes that it was a strategy to ignite the fight:
He had wanted Irina's defiance… his excuse to destroy her, to ignite the violence that filled the air like a thick, combustible mist.(37.66)
- As expected, Kate and Tanya charge to avenge their sister. Edward stops Tanya while Garret manages to restrain Kate, despite the volley of electric shocks she unleashes on him.
- Aro asks to speak with the Cullen witnesses – another strategy, it seems. He asks Amun what he has observed about the child. Amun confirms Renesmee's growth and that she is Bella and Edward's biological child. Aro asks Amun if he thinks that Renesmee should be allowed to live and that she poses no danger, and he says yes.
- Although all the witnesses affirm that Renesmee poses no threat, Aro maintains that because Renesmee is unique, there's no way of knowing how she might turn out and if she will endanger the vampire world. He adds that, with the advances in human technology, humans have the power now to destroy the vampire world if they discover its existence.
- Garret steps before the Volturi witnesses. He tells them that it has become clear that the Volturi haven't come for justice, but for power. They perceive the Cullens as competition. He praises the Cullens as a real family, bound by love not power, like traditional vampire covens.
- Aro asks the witnesses who they'll choose – the Volturi or the Cullens. They tell him they haven't come to fight, but to witness the truth, which is that the Cullens are innocent.
- Aro admits that the Volturi are outnumbered. The rest of the Volturi guard is ready to fight, though. The brothers counsel again.
- Bella is convinced that they'll decide to fight, so she tells Renesmee to leave with Jacob once the fight starts.
- Edward finally learns the secret she kept from him and realizes why. He says good-bye to his daughter and to Jacob, calling him his brother and son. Everyone murmurs "good-bye" and "I love you."
- All hope seems lost. Bella feels a fluttering pressure against the outside of her shield. "It's starting" (37.237).
So, Aro is "siding" with the Cullens quite a bit, huh? Such a weird turn of events...what are your thoughts on that? I thought it was strange the first time I read it and still kind of do. I can see the point of needing to keep things in certain perspective to keep with their witnesses, but it seemed strange to drag them all to Washington to then side with the Cullens so easily.
We'll have the "fight" next week - and we can discuss how they're going to play that out on screen. For now, how do you think they'll show Alec's power on film? Or Benjamin's?
For next week, we'll be finishing up: Breaking Dawn: Book 3 - Chapter 38-39...and that's the end *sniffle.*
Once again, thanks to shmoop for the summaries.