Twilight Fan Fiction / Twilight Fan Fiction ❯ I Know My Duty ❯ Unraveling ( Chapter 34 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Twilight and its three and two half sequels are the creation of Stephenie Meyer. This story is fanfiction based on characters, settings and concepts from Twilight, its first three sequels and the first half of Midnight Sun, all of which are the creation of Stephenie Meyer. No party other than the submitting author may alter this work in any way other than font size and other reasonable accommodations to formatting.
To everyone who said that they found the previous chapter amusing, thank you so much for your kind words. Remember, kids, don't do drugs. You'll end up with vampire lung lint.

"We owe the Volturi for our present way of life." -Jasper, Eclipse

"You're sure?" she asked.
I tried not to wince against the compulsion in her voice. Heidi was not shy about using her gift when she wanted something, and now she wanted the truth.
"She wasn't lying. It doesn't show," I said gently. The new receptionist hadn't noticed the marks that Jane had left on Heidi's left cheek, not until she'd been told exactly where to look. Even then, she had needed bright light.
"Adrienne did a wonderful job," I said honestly. The little harpy was good with her claws at least. She'd put her patient back together perfectly.
Heidi nodded, a gauze-thin veil of indifference covering a whirlwind of humbled pride. Her scars wouldn't show to humans, but they did to other vampires. She was still a fine-looking woman, tall and well-formed, and her position within the coven meant she'd never lack admirers, but she was no longer flawless. Her appearance was now beautiful only to those who knew her story. Adrienne had been exulting to herself all day, and she wasn't the only one.
I opened my mouth to say, "Good luck," and then I realized where she was going, eyes violet beneath blue contacts. "I hope you return safely, Heidi," I said. I could make myself mean that, at least.
"Thank you," she said quietly. She would be quiet now. She would never speak again without checking twice to see if Jane would be offended. Heidi took two steps toward the door and then turned back toward me. Thank you, I could see again in her thoughts, this time interspersed with the sound of my voice in the hallway, drawing Jane away from her. "The master says you're to find out—" she couldn't say the rest. It didn't even occur to her to make the sounds.
I nodded.
"Do it," she said, voice as unmistakable as a pointed finger.
"Yes, ma'am," I answered.
She left. She would meet Richard outside, and he would escort her on her fishing trip. She hadn't wanted to go alone. Her courage was no longer flawless either.
I turned and headed up the stairs.
Aro was not enjoying my reports on Jane's activity. His favorite follower was becoming more erratic. The crowd, the chorus of voices that was Volterra, was becoming more restless, like a white cloud turning dark. There would be a storm soon if no solution was found, and Aro was not pleased that I had not found it. Worse, Caius was irritated with the lack of movement on his calm newborns. I had two masters looking at me from two directions, both capable of effecting dire consequences if I did not perform the impossible.
... that should have bothered me far more than it did.
I opened the door. She looked up from her book. "Hello Edward," she said. Her eyes were darkened amber today, brown on their way toward black. I found the changing color gave her an intensity, perfectly balanced by the tiny touch of mischief in her smile. I have a secret, she seemed to say.
"Bella." I smiled back as I sat down beside her. I knew what her secret was. "What are we doing today?"
"Irregular verbs," she said, her eyes not leaving mine.
"Ah." God but she could have been reciting the tax code for all I cared, so long as she kept looking at me like I was the last drink of water in a desert full of heat.
Bella had mastered the basics of Italian and we'd moved on to German. She turned down to her book and I watched her through the wheeling dust motes. The barest edge of a shaft of sunlight had caught a few strands of her hair, turning some of them gold. Had this never happened before or had I only forbidden myself to notice?
I felt the same, quiet lightness buzzing inside me. She was letting me back in.
There were only so many things that I could do differently. Since the beginning, I'd been careful to make sure that we showed all the outward appearances of a mated pair, so, to all outward appearances, nothing had changed. We still walked hand in hand. When we were both off shift, we still studied together or practiced fighting down below.
When we didn't have an audience, I did what I could. I pulled her chair out for her when she took her seat. I sat next to her instead of across from her. I let the edge of my arm touch hers. She never moved away.
I still offered her my arm when we walked through the hallways. Having our coven think we were mates was still a good idea. It was only that the truth wasn't quite as far from the fiction as it had been.
She seemed to smile more, and not just at me. And, according to Rolfe, I seemed less irritable, "not as much of an uptight jerkwad," in his words. Of course, he'd mentally added, I can't wait until he actually gets laid, though. Could've sworn she'd gotten him done that day in the woods. She'd better hop to it before he gets his prissy back on. Gift or not, he was too perceptive for his own good, or mine.
But she did smile more. I did feel easier. I hadn't known how much weight I'd been carrying. It was as if I'd been wearing a chain and she'd just taken it off me. I still felt guilty. I still had miles to go to make it all up to her, but she was letting me try. Better, she seemed happy to let me try.
I wasn't sure how I could prove myself. The simplest, truest answer was that I would have to show that I could be faithful over time, give her years of my loyalty and affection, but now that I'd had a taste of what I wanted, I was impatient for more. I still had my reservations, but I had accepted them when I'd decided I wanted her to take me back. My love for her might never be the pure creature that it had been during our days in Forks, but that didn't mean it couldn't grow strong.
As far as I could tell, she'd liked her present.
She'd written her letter. I'd had the envelope addressed and ready. She'd put it in my hand and I'd sealed it inside without taking my eyes off her. She'd reached out and clasped my free hand. "Thank you," I'd seen in her eyes.
"Nothing treasonous," I repeated.
She'd nodded, eyes on me and far from me.
I was dying to know what she'd written, what little token of affection she'd tucked in with the practical matters in her open, modern hand, but I had promised.
As I'd tucked the letter into my cloak, she'd bitten her lower lip, looked left and right, and leaned a hand on my upper arm. I'd closed the rest of the distance myself, letting my lips press gently against hers before she pulled away and left for her library shift. After that, I found that I did not mind letting Jacob Black have his warning. I would have everything else.
The more I got, the more I wanted. Her love. Her attention. Her loyalty. Her eyes on me whenever I was near. She'd shift toward me when I sat beside her. She'd smile when I walked into the room. I was still racking my brains to find ways to show her how I felt. I tried to remember what it had been like in Forks. Our first courtship hadn't been easy by any means, but each step had flowed naturally from the one before. Figuring out how to reward Angela Webber for her kindness had taken more mental effort. I'd given Bella her wolves. I was trying to give her her parents. The only other thing that she could possibly want would be to leave Volterra—she spoke of it more often than was truly safe—but that was beyond my reach.
"Irgendein Glück?" she asked in halting, schoolchild German.
"Nicht schon. I have not figured out what causes Jane's illness," I answered, lapsing back into English with more frustration than I'd meant.
"Don't worry, you will," she said, turning the page of her grammar book as she did so, fingertips of one hand playing gently against the back of my wrist.
"Not if you keep continually distracting me," I answered playfully.
She turned her head toward me slowly and gave me a careful, slow-stepping look, like a skater testing the strength of the ice. At the same time, that look was full of such utter slyness that I was suddenly reminded of my days in Denali.
Minx, I thought. Bella might remind me of Tanya when she looked at me with her eyes full of plans, only with her I did not mind being the subject of some wicked plot. Bella's wiles came at me through a veil of innocence that Tanya could never have faked. I'd dealt with Tanya, Adrienne, more high school girls than I could count and a disturbing few teachers. Even my virtuous sister Rosalie had known how to draw a man's eye when she wanted, even if she hadn't seen fit to use her wiles on me. Bella on the other hand had no idea what she was doing—and I loved it. I could never suppress the silly glow inside me whenever I finally realized that she'd spent the previous five minutes trying to be alluring. She'd let her arm brush against mine or leave her knee against my leg exactly as if she'd read how to do it in a fashion magazine and wasn't sure if the author was playing a trick on her or not.
I hadn't realized that I'd made a noise, but I must have. She stopped mid-conjugation and looked up.
"Jane?" she asked quietly.
I nodded, motioning with my hand for her to be silent as I listened to the voices in my head. She did, slowly lowering the edge of her book to the table, pulling her fingers away slowly, as if the fibers could break my concentration. I'd spent so much time listening for Jane that I could hear her almost anywhere in the compound—especially if she was angry. I shifted my weight, preparing to stand up. tearing... There was a pair of hands, but they were only clawing the empty air. I could see images of Marcell, of Caroly, of Heidi, but they were visualized, not real. I slowly relaxed back into my chair. Bella let out the breath she'd been holding.
"What was it now?" she asked.
"Nothing this time," I said. "Only her imagination."
"She's getting worse, isn't she?" Bella asked solemnly. I nodded.
Jane had continued to terrorize the coven over the past week. Adrienne and I had been able to reattach Richard's finger, but the bite mark was going to show.
"What are her thoughts like?" she asked me, face masklike with seriousness. "Is she in any pain?" I held back a smile. It was so very like her to care about Jane's well-being, never mind that the little goblin girl might turn on her at any moment. Another thread of my doubts unraveled. I couldn't wait until the whole choking shroud of it had gone.
"No," I said. "If anything, Jane feels better than she has in years."
"You mean she's getting calmer?" Bella asked.
"No, I mean Jane doesn't feel like she's ill," I explained. "It's as if..." I grit my teeth, trying to force the ideas to come. "Her thoughts are scattered now," I said, "but they're..." ...more in motion, more colorful, more like an actual person and less like a stone golem. "Before, when she was well, she was always very focused, but..." I felt her shift closer to me as I closed my eyes.
Jane's thoughts were a whirlwind, a nonstop media blitz of sight and sound and scent and vibration, all in glorious day-bright color.
"It's as if only half the world got in before," I explained. I could feel her hand stroking my hair, light as a feather against the violence in my mind. "Now the volume is up to full blast and it's driving her mad."
"Like a newborn?" Bella prompted, voice as gentle as a mother's at the cradle.
"No..." I trailed off. "Her thoughts were dull before, but now they're—"
"More human?" she asked.
I turned my head to look at her straight on. "Yes," I said. "I would never have thought to put it that way, but yes."
The stunted white seedling grown in the dark had bloomed into a healthy, bleeding nettle. I felt my hands clench into fists. "It reminds me of something," the words were halfway to a growl in my throat. There was some great clue, something that would help me understand the entire problem, present it at the masters' feet solved, and I could not see it. "It reminds me of something and I cannot tell what."
"It's all right," she said quietly. "What did you tell Aro today?"
I was glad for a question that had an answer.
"That Adrienne isn't bluffing," I said. I could see my master's eyes, dark and pensive behind their gray film, his mouth a hard line. "She gets a bit dramatic now and then, but she means it. If Jane attacks her, she will leave. Rolfe can't hold her interest forever."
"But Adrienne's just one person, isn't she?"
She was, and not even a gifted one, not one of Aro's prizes. If it were only Adrienne, Aro might not have minded letting her go. "If she goes, so will others, probably Corin and Richard. Corin's already decided, mostly. He's just too proud to be the first to run."
Corin was a fighter. He'd joined after the Volturi had executed half his coven. Aro had affirmed his innocence and spared him, but the real enticement had been Jane. I'd never seen Corin's talent firsthand, but he was like a miracle in battle, elegant and ruthless. Jane terrified him. Little Jane, who could defeat and humiliate vampires twice her size and ten times her skill. Corin had joined so that he would always have Jane on his own side.
"What then?" asked Bella, but we both knew.
"Then the world knows that Aro can neither protect his warriors nor keep them from deserting." I felt her hand stroke down my head again, and I realized that I was half lying on the table. "Other vampires lose their fear of the law."
I felt her breathe in and out. I didn't have to tell her what that meant. With someone like Bella, the public good was never forgotten.
"What have you figured out about Jane?" Bella whispered. I closed my eyes against the feel of her fingernails on the back of my neck. "Do you have any idea what's caused her to change?"
I shook my head, half lost in the feeling of her hand on my hair. I felt her exhale. In any other context, I would have thought she was relieved, but there could be no relief for us. I didn't move. She didn't stop. I breathed in and out. There was no sound, no heartbeat, no measurement of time save what we gave it.
Of course I came to myself. Of course I couldn't sit here wallowing. I reached up and took her hand with mine, lifting my head up from the table. I took a breath of the stale air, forcing myself to pase every scent—dust, books, stone, wood, Bella—and push thoughts of failure from my mind.
"I will, Bella," I told her, sending the words into the air like a promise. "I haven't found out yet, but I will."
"I know," she whispered.
"And Aro will stop at nothing to put it right," I said, assuring myself as much as her. That man would never allow anything to destabilize the peace and power he'd built over so many centuries.
She looked down, licking her lips. I could see she was still worried.
"I know."
I looked her square in the eye. I'd been meaning to talk to her about this for days, but it was taking more courage than I'd anticipated. "I did, you know," I said before I could back down again.
She looked at me quizzically.
"You said I hadn't laid a finger on you without flinching, but I did."
"I didn't mean walking arm in arm, Edward," she said, showing me that half-smile that she'd always used to cover embarrassment. I still expected to see the blush.
"Neither did I," I said, leaning toward her so that she faced me directly. Did she really not know what I was talking about? But she was frowning, just the tiniest crease of her brows.
"It was only a kiss," I said before her imagination could conjure up something worse. God only knew what she thought I was capable of.
"When?" she asked, still looking confused.
Disappointment seeped through me like tar. That moment had been haunting me daily, and it seemed she didn't even know it had happened.
"The day Marcell was turned," I told her. "Or at least I thought it was a kiss."
Her brow cleared, and I almost felt relieved. "Oh," she said, but then she shook her head. "Not a kiss."
"Oh," I repeated, looking away for a moment. At least now I knew.
"I mean... I was only thinking about," she said. "I would have done it even if—" I'd heard her hair rustle as she shook her head. "It doesn't matter."
She'd have done it even if it hadn't been me, I finished for her. She might as well have been licking blood off the floor—or another man.
"But thought that was a kiss?" she asked. "All I remember is the blood."
I met her eyes. "Why would I have shared it?" I asked honestly.
"Oh," she said, every bit as articulate as I had been. "So ...I didn't kiss you, but you sort of kissed me?"
I nodded. "That's a fair description of it," I said. And if I never got to do it again, the universe would have to die. At that moment, I was distractedly certain that that was the real matter behind unified force theory.
"I'm sorry, Edward," she's been saying. "That... really meant a lot to you, didn't it?" I'd heard her ask. I couldn't remember if I'd had my eyes closed or just been staring at the wall. I'd tipped my head to the side, not wanting to answer yes or no. I couldn't even shrug properly these days.
Bella had been silent for a moment. I heard her breathe in to speak.
"I said that wasn't a kiss," she'd told me.
I almost failed to notice when she slid her chair to the side, placing a hand on my upper arm, leaning toward me as the other found the side of my face. I opened my eyes just in time to realize what was happening. I caught her lips and slid my arm around her waist. And then the whole world went away. The past didn't matter. Volterra didn't matter. We might as well have been standing beneath a Sitka spruce beside an empty stretch of Highway 101. Lord knew I'd never been able to smell pine needles or gasoline or anything but her when she was near me.
And this time there was no pain. Not any.
I pulled back and rested my forehead against hers, running the pad of my thumb over her lips and down to the corner of her jaw. How many times had I wanted to do that? I'd been so worried that I'd hurt her.
Well it wasn't possible now. There was no way that I could harm her more than I already had.
I leaned back and looked in her eyes, amber-dark eyes, alive with fear and hope and caution.
Damage done, I thought. I'd earn her trust again, if it took me a hundred years.
I couldn't wait.
"Do you know the difference now?" she asked, a curving smile coloring her words.
"Yes, Miss Swan," I answered obediently. "I believe I do."
Bella eventually had to take her shift in the library. I spent a tense day watching Jane. I developed the habit of always being on the same floor but out of her line of sight. Fortunately, the compound had more than one set of stairs—Marcus had insisted upon it for tactical reasons.
On the second day, Jane had an argument with Alec. He'd been patronizing her, she said. It was true; Alec had taken to speaking to her as if she were a mental patient or a small child. It would have annoyed anyone. I watched her thoughts carefully, wondering if I should try to interfere or just use this opportunity to study Jane as she went off. In the end, I drew closer, letting my footfall make a noise. Alec's eyes flickered to me for half a second. Jane, turned away from me and very agitated, did not notice. No, he thought. I nodded and backed away. The rest of the day passed without incident.
On the third day, she came upon Corin and Felix near the entrance to the tower, shouting at them to leave the wives alone. She knew they hadn't truly done anything, but they irritated her beyond measure. They left, as cowed as two alley dogs, but Felix became angry as soon as they'd gone, at Jane, at himself for backing down. He contemplated finding me for a good beating, but Byron crossed his path first. Felix thrashed him soundly outside of reception, breaking his right arm in three places. I would learn about it later, from Renata. Jane's illness was spreading.
On the fourth day, Bella cornered me in the stairwell and, smiling and without a word, quickly kissed me twice on each cheek and three times on the forehead. I found myself returning her caresses eagerly. I had no idea how she could be so happy when the coven was falling apart around us, but it was impossible not to be affected by her. I could barely concentrate on Jane—or anything else—for the rest of the day.
On the fifth day, I realized that Jane hadn't figured out that I was watching her—and probably would not. She took her agitation out on the walls, leaving finger-width marks in the stone. I arranged for them to be filled in and rubbed away. No evidence, not even in our own home.
The tension in the coven was rising. It had been days since Jane had laid a claw on anyone, but no one thought that the danger was over. She strode through the upper halls, half-muttering to herself, formerly neat hair flying from her head in clumps. Everyone was waiting for the next awful thing to happen.
On the sixth day, it did.
I stood up from my place at our table, letting my book slide shut as I did.
"Jane?" Bella asked apprehensively.
I shook my head. "Heidi's home."
Bella licked her lips. I was glad I couldn't see her thoughts. "But she's early," she said.
"She's showing off," I realized. Heidi was proving to all the sneering voices that she had lost none of her skill and would surrender none of her rank. I should have anticipated this, but both Bella and my work with Jane had distracted me. I should have moved up our own schedule, just in case.
There had been nine feasts since our arrival in Volterra. The guard ate roughly once a month, at varied intervals to make the pattern harder to recognize. Like clockwork, though, they occurred eight days after Heidi left on her fishing trip. I always made sure that Bella and I ate first. Full and fortified, we would hole up in the library and tried not to think about what was happening.
This time, she'd done it in six.
I could see, scattered in her smug thoughts, that she'd brought home a few gems, unusually sweet-smelling. Sometimes, on feeding days, the scent of blood seemed to fill the whole compound.
Aro had never ordered us to participate or even to help prepare. It was one of his holds over me, one of the things he was holding back to use as punishments if I ever defied him—or failed him.
I took Bella's hand, rubbing my thumb against her knuckles, the black of her eyes suddenly seeming bright as onyx in against the gold light. She'd been doing so well, but we both knew that it had less to do with direct control of her thirst and more to do with how carefully she avoided anything that could set her off. She only seemed strong because she knew her weaknesses so well.
"Could you ask him to let us go into the tunnels?" Bella asked quickly, the black of her eyes bright as polished onyx. I could see her chin flex as her tongue remembered the dryness in her mouth. "Far, not like we do for practice."
"No," I said. The sea of thoughts in this building was suddenly roiling. The dozens of humans whom Heidi had herded into the reception hall were beginning to realize that something was wrong. The human staff were beginning to realize that they'd come to work on a bad day. And all that was nothing to the bright red strains of memory and anticipation firing out from every vampire in the compound as the word of Heidi's return spread.
"Edward, he'd understand," she said.
"He would," I agreed. "I mean that I can't ask him." I watched the corners of her mouth turn down as she realized what I meant. She looked at me for a long moment. Downstairs, Aro was lifting his hands in his familiar gesture of delight at Heidi's news. Caius was ordering Afton to take crowd control duties. Master Marcus... Marcus never seemed bored on feeding days. And underlying all that...
Didn't see this place on the tour schedule...
Why did he close the door behind us?
There's no air in here.
Something's not right.
Bella seemed calm, stray threads of her hair drifting in the still air, but I could see the little tremor in the middle of her lower lip. I didn't have to be able to read her thoughts. She'd made two kills in the past nine months, both women, both scared. She'd pulled that fear inside her that day.
"The roof," she said quickly.
"Bella, it's too early. The sun is still—"
"The roof," she insisted, heading for the door. She was across the hallway and at the stairwell when I caught up with her. I grabbed her wrist and pulled her back toward me, locking my arms around her chest.
"No," I said against her neck.
Should probably go back the way we came.
Where's Maurice? He was right with me.
What's wrong with his eyes? I blinked to clear Caius's looming face from my mind. We didn't have long now.
"If we go out there during the day, we are dead," I hissed in her ear.
"We've got cloaks." Her words were like pebbles pouring out of a jar, clattering in all directions, "And we can't get down, and, and we're high up, no one will see."
"No," I insisted. "Caius will know. We'd be dead." She was struggling, but only a little, fingers like steel against my forearm. She was still stronger than I was, but not by so much as she had been.
"I don't want to do it!" her voice rose and broke against my grip, like a crashing wave, like a sob.
"I don't either," I said. "But not the roof."
Her chest rose and fell. "Water," she said.
Water? If that worked, we never would have let Jasper outside without a quart of Evian in his hand. "Bella, that won't—"
"No, water. Base of the tower." She slipped out of my hold and ran in the other direction. I followed her down one floor from the tower roof access and across the upper hallway.
My dear ones, is everyone here? Aro was preparing to say. No... No, thank God but Adrienne had stopped to leave her good blouse behind, and Randall and Corin had been going over the books with the accountants when Heidi had come home. Too many people who hadn't been expecting her. We had a minute, if only just.
Bella turned and I nearly overshot her. For a moment it looked as if she'd been going back to the upper library, but she bounded up the stairs again.
The tower? That made no sense. She knew I couldn't go up there, and even if I could, the ventilation system would only bring in tainted air from the lower levels.
Bella shoved open the door and I followed her out onto the pale white tiles. Someone had fixed the mirror, I saw. I hadn't been in here since that night when I'd given her the comb for her hair. When I'd needed to shower, I'd gone downstairs like everyone else. But downstairs was about to be full of the scent of human blood.
"Why here?" I asked, genuinely confused. Bella actually seemed calmer, like we were close to safe.
"We should stop breathing," she said.
I stared at her. I knew she was right, but that didn't explain any of it. I squeezed my eyes shut. Three floors below us, the tension was building like a rising wave of suspicion and anticipation and—
Guests! Welcome to Volterra!
Then everything crashed. Thoughts were still thoughts when they became screams.
It must have shown on my face. Bella took two steps toward me and put her hands on either side of my face. I could hear the damned hiss of the air vents over our heads. I could hear every hungry, ripping, terrified, satisfied wetly tearing mind in the feasting hall three floors below us.
One Swiss tourist, a boy of sixteen, saw what I barely recognized as Richard pull his big brother's linebacker shoulder from his neck and clamp down on the spurting fountain of an artery while Renata sucked at his wrist like a lemon. It had to be a trick, the boy thought. It had to be one of Anthony's pranks. It had to be. Then the boy felt something cold snap down on his neck and something warm spread in front of his pants.
They were all shouting, ringing, screaming into my ears. Thought. Pain. Memory. Fear.
I could feel every minute that had passed since I'd eaten. Every second was like sand inside my eyelids.
Even three floors up, every molecule of air smelled just. Like. Food.
I was two steps closer to the door than I had been. "Edward, look at me," someone was saying. It would all be gone. There were dozens of vampires down there and I didn't want any but none of them would leave any for me.
I felt the metal of the door handle against my palm. "I need you to help me, Edward."
There was a tiny rush of air as someone exhaled through her nose, and my arm was stuck in a grip like a vise. "This way," she murmured, "this way." I saw her knock her cloak off her shoulders, let it pile in smooth gray ridges on the tiles. "This way," she said as she stepped out of her shoes. I felt more pressure on my arm and instinctively tried to pull back. I saw her lips press together as she braced her legs and pulled with more strength than I'd ever known she had. The next thing I knew, she was pile-driving me toward the closed stall.
There was a gentle squeaking of metal on metal and then a thousand drumbeat raindrops hit me square in the face.
I opened my eyes, still under the rushing stream. Like smoke, I thought bemusedly. I remembered being taught in a hundred different required safety courses, that if I were trapped in a burning building, I should wet a cloth and hide under a table to keep out the smoke.
"Better now?" Bella called over the spray.
I nodded, blinking through the droplets on my eyelashes. Some scents carried further on moisture, but this was no forest fog. The water was coming to us unexposed.
She smiled, showing white teeth as her dark hair plastered against her neck. There really wasn't room in here for the both of us. I had no intention of moving.
"What gave you this idea?" I asked over the spray. White noise. It was helping. It would be hell to explain what had happened to our clothes, but it was better than the alternative.
"I'm good at coming up with plans," Bella said, pulling herself into a kneeling position. "Not much else to think about what with all the art-cleaning and wife-minding."
I raised an eyebrow. Sexism in Volterra was one of Bella's disfavorite topics. We usually talked on feeding days. About anything except what was happening, if only to give me another voice to latch onto.
I felt better now. I could still hear everything, see everything, but it didn't feel as though it were happening inside me any more.
AWAY! The thought hit me like a chest-high breaker.
"Edward!" Bella called out,.
Blood and anger and dominion and aaah!
I gasped, pulling water into my lungs. Holy... Was that actually...
"It's a fight downstairs, Bella," I said. Fighting wasn't unheard of on feeding days. Everyone loosened their control a bit, but there were few things that people were not supposed to do. "Jane just used her gift on three of the guard," I said to Bella, "just to get more food." I shook my head. "It's coming undone, Bella. Aro will have to punish her now."
"What do you think he'll do?"
"I don't know," I breathed. "I don't know."
One: I am a little annoyed that Castle stole my idea, but at least I got it on record first. I'm hardly surprised that they're mining ffnet for plotlines, really (because a WWIII based heavily on China is totally my own and no one else could have thought of it, ever).
Two: To address some confusion, Bella has the exact same supernatural powers as she does in canon (Breaking Dawn). She just doesn't have an vampire Amazon to help her figure out how to use it.
Three: This isn't an AU. It's a deviation 'fic. AU is when the circumstances of the story are different from the beginning, like in Wide Awake or even Bonne Foi (both delightful, by the way).
As for this chapter... Like I said, I'm still accepting concrit. If anyone out there has any ideas for how I can make the exchange in the upper library anything more like that KY Intense commercial where that British couple is talking about putting cinnamon in the desert, please let me know.
This is my first use of the semi-canon character Corin. His name is on the list of Volturi provided at the end of Breaking Dawn, but he has no lines. I've never read any of the supplemental materials, so I'm just guessing as to his personality and the circumstances under which he became Volturi.
drf24 (at) columbia (dot) edu