Twilight Fan Fiction / Twilight Fan Fiction ❯ I Know My Duty ❯ Scars ( Chapter 41 )

[ 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.

I apologize for the lack of formatting. still won't let me upload .doc files.


"Maybe that was why I'd been unable to imagine that I would like being married until after I already was," –Bella, Breaking Dawn


"It must have been the scar."

Edward was doing that thing where he almost pressed his lips together but not really. He did that whenever I took what he'd said and pulled it in a direction he didn't want. Well screw it. There wasn't shit I could do about what Aro thought.

"The three newborns we lost in Bellarus back in '15," I went on. Simon, Trinette and Boris. "They all had the same scar in the same place. Any nomad knows that hypodermic needles can't break vampire skin. Someone from that fight must have figured out what it was. It doesn't take more than a few years of trial and error to figure out the rest."

Turning a vampire didn't usually leave marks. I'd even lost a few from my human days, like the one I'd got motorcycling with Jacob. I'd only kept the one venom scar on my wrist, though I could tell from Edward and Caroly that reattached limbs left marks too, especially if that dumbass Felix didn't look at what he was doing.

"To hear Master Caius talk, the Romanians are nothing but determined," said Edward. "Bella, we need to worry about you."


"Bella, the master thinks it could be you," Edward said quickly. "You and I know that's ridiculous, some of our friends know it's ridiculous, but he has never liked the fact that your mind will not yield to him."

Whereas I did like it. I liked it a lot.

He smiled, not his real smile, just a little smugness at the corner of his mouth. This was Edward's I-have-a-plan smile. If I were smart, I'd duck and cover every time I saw it, but he'd worn it just before too many good moments.

"My cousin Kate was able to change the way her powers worked," he said. I paused, wondering where he was going with this. "She does a shock, like Jane almost, but she has to be touching her victim. It used to be that she could only send the current through the palms of her hands, but with practice, she was able to overpower an assailant touching any part of her skin."

I held in a smile. Edward didn't realize, but I already knew how a vampires power could get stronger. I didn't even need to be in the same room with him to protect him from Chelsea any more. Other people were harder to target, not that I risked it.

"Okay, that's great for her," I answered. "What's your point?"

"Well maybe we could find someone to teach you how to drop your shield."

There he was, eager and hopeful. I felt like he'd pushed a railroad spike into my guts.


"If Aro could only read you, then you'd be above suspicion," he said earnestly. "We wouldn't have to worry about proving you innocent; he'd know," he finished with a self-satisfied smile, like a kid who'd solved the hardest problem in math class and was sure he had the right answer. It was like the floor falling out from underneath me.

"No, no he stays out," I said quickly, then fought the urge to smack my hands over my mouth. "I mean... I haven't always been the most ...patriotic."

"Bella," Edward said comfortingly, "everyone in Volterra has disloyal thoughts from time to time. Well except maybe Jane. Aro's used to it. Even if you did think something that merited punishment, that's better than getting executed as a traitor."

I swallowed. Yes, Aro might forgive me for thinking that he was a cantankerous old tyrant. The part where I'd come up with over sixteen specific blueprints for dispersing his coven and that one of them had almost worked? Not so much. And then there was what I kept hidden for Edward. I'd kept my promise. I thought about Alice every day.

"I know you don't want to lose your privacy," he said, "but it needs to be done. If Aro thinks that he'd get to see inside your mind, he might even allow you to visit Alaska and learn from Kate."

I shook my head. "No, he'd just tell us to invite Kate here." And then she would find herself unable to leave. Or suddenly uninterested in leaving.

Edward looked away, corner of his mouth twisting the way it did when he knew I was not-saying something pointed about the masters. "This could be moot. In all likelihood," he said, "Aro will uncover the spy today."

"Unless there is no spy," I pointed out. "If this really was a coincidence, or if it's not but they're not using a person in the guard..."

"Then we still have a problem." Edward breathed in and out.

I didn't say anything. There was nothing to say. "Is everyone going to see Aro?"

Edward nodded. "To answer a question about Stephen, ostensibly. You go with your shift."

"Then we have a while."

It was one of the things that we didn't need to say out loud. It was his first day back from a mission and the rest of the coven was distracted. There was part of the roof that could not be seen from the tower or any of the surrounding buildings.

Edward smiled, even though there were still shadows behind it. He knew what I knew: In Volterra, we had to take what we could get when we could get it. He let me take him by the hand and pull him away.

I'd never gotten used to the idea of being married. I'd thought it would grow on me with time, but it hadn't. Edward had told me once that vampires became frozen, that all our tastes and personality traits were fixed. It looked like I was fixed as someone who didn't need a ring to be happy. He loved me and I loved him. I didn't feel any different after we'd said the words in a church with Caroly holding some flowers for me. Except for feeling pissed off at him for telling the priest that I was some dumb-as-shit knocked up Flemish girl.

I'd always known that Edward would have a problem with sex. Love or not, a guy didn't go eighty years without doing it even once if he didn't have some issues. I'd figured that marriage was his psychological out. Edward had about a million things that he felt guilty about, and if five minutes in front of a priest took one of them away, then I could force a smile and get through it. Besides, the Edward I'd known from Forks had been a person of uncompromising moral standards. If I could give him a chance to be that man again, even just for a few minutes, then I'd do it. And the fact that it was pretty much a "screw you" to the masters took a lot of the fake out of my smile.

That wasn't to say our wedding had been all business for me. I didn't think I'd ever get tired of Edward saying he loved me, and that pretty little border church had been empty except for us, the priest, Demetri and Caroly. And then the father had asked when I was due and I'd realized how Edward had convinced him to do a ceremony without a marriage license.

Edward had been willing to hold up his end of the bargain that night. There was a big, empty patch of woods that we could have used. But stupid Demetri had said we'd had to get back. Technically, I guess we could have had sex on the train or in any of the places we'd hid during the next few sets of daylight hours, but to be perfectly honest, I hadn't wanted my first time to be a quickie in some storm drain with two other people pointedly pretending not to notice. I had never really liked the idea of getting intimate inside the Volterra compound, but after months of waiting and five days on the road, the practice tunnel had started to seem like a suite at the Hilton.

Unfortunately, when we'd gone to the masters to give our post-mission report, Demetri had mentioned Edward's little unauthorized side trip.

As Edward had later explained to me, Caius hadn't liked the idea of members of the guard running personal errands while on missions. Aro didn't like anything that reminded him that Edward was still loyal to Carlisle—somehow marrying me counted. Neither of them liked anyone in the guard actually meeting the definition for the word "wife," but that was some kind of secret. Marcus was just annoyed that we hadn't told him about the wedding ahead of time. Seemed he'd been looking forward to it. I imagined him with a little scrapbook full of fabric swatches. Most days, I was glad that Alice wasn't stuck here in Volterra with us, but at that point I'd been especially happy. The two of them together would have made it a spectacle of humiliating proportions.

In a sane world, they'd just have sent for Jane, let her zap Edward a few times, maybe have Heidi knock me around a bit, and then call it a night. But Caius in particular felt like being passive aggressive. Aro smiled and congratulated me as "Mrs. Masen," and Edward had spent the next three weeks at his side almost twenty-four seven. The few times when they did let him off, I was always slotted to work the library, train Adal or mind the wives.

I had to be the only woman in the modern world who'd still been a virgin a month after her wedding night. I'd been prepared for that, actually, except I'd figured it would be Edward's issues necessitating the take-it-slow route, not Aro's determination to make everyone else as miserable as he was.

As far as I was concerned, being married had exactly one upside. I'd been up in the tower, trying to zone out with some very frustrated visuals of what I'd like to have been doing with Edward, when Old Bitch Two had lurched out of her chair and yanked my left hand half off my wrist. I'd nearly jumped out of my skin. I'd thought she'd been going to rip off my fingers like she'd done to Salome after she'd pruned the roses wrong.

Instead, she held my hand like that creepy boy from third grade picking up a dead cicada skin, only she was looking sideways at my ring. I couldn't get what she'd found so interesting. It was just a plain band that Edward had pulled off a dead chick a few missions back and squeezed until it fit me.

"Which is that?" she'd asked in Etrusca-speak.

"That is Bella, Athenodora," said Old Bitch One. "She has been serving us some two years."

"How does she wear this?"

Sulpicia had turned her head toward me and I'd swear she'd rolled her eyes.

"That is a wedding ring, Athenodora. It is the style such as married women wear."

"What did she marry?"

"My lord husband says it is the same male whose scent you are always noticing."

"Was she not in the garden with the tall one not ten days past? We saw them in the garden."

"It is the same male, Athenodora."

"The same? But he smelled shorter."

"Weaklings can be tall, Athenodora." Except it wasn't really "weakling." Some Etrusca-word that I couldn't really translate. It was somewhere between "short-blade soldier" and "slave." "Always the same male with this one," Sulpicia'd gone on. "And now she has married him."

Athenodora had turned to Sulpicia then. "Why did he not ask? She is our servant." Old Bitch One didn't have an answer for that one. Athenodora had looked at me strangely, as if I'd outsmarted her at something. Then she'd let go of my hand and gone back to staring out the window. A few minutes later she'd called for the ewer.

And she'd never called me a slut again.

...which might be ironic at the moment. I kept my arms around his neck after we were done. I always liked to feel him then, glowing in my mind when our bodies were still close. I could never risk using my gift on Edward for very long. If Demetri or someone tried to find him, he'd know something was up. I didn't want to think about what would happen if I got caught.

"Did that clear your head?" I murmured in his ear.

I could feel him smile against my skin. "I believe it did, Mrs. Cullen."

"Shhhhhhhh..." I murmured, putting one finger across his lips. "You know he doesn't like it."

"And you know," Edward said, leaning back on his elbows, "that I don't care to dwell on Aro at moments like this."

At least I'd learned to stop rolling my eyes when he called me that. "My love" was fine. "Honey" was fine. But "Mrs. Cullen"? Yeech. It usually made me feel like some forty-odd soccer mom with a fanny pack. At times like this, though, I could manage not to feel too frumpy.

Sex was messier than I'd thought back in in the day—to think I'd even suggested doing it in the woods with no change of clothes at hand—but I was old hat at getting cleaned up in a hurry. We were both good at doing this in a hurry.

Later, I walked into the main audience chamber, ostensibly to give my thoughts on whether or not we should put Stephen out of his misery. Aro was staring at me, that penetrating, half-leering stare that had always made my skin crawl.

But Aro was on the back burner today. Nothing in the world could be creepier than what was laid out on that cloak.

Stephen hadn't been my brightest student. In fact, I wasn't surprised that he'd gotten himself killed. Except he hadn't gotten killed. His head might still be alive somewhere, and his arms and legs were alive here. The middle finger of his left hand flexed slightly, just like it always did before he went for the gut. I never had gotten him to stop telegraphing his moves. "They'll be dead before they can use what they know," he'd said. Poor, stupid man. I'd taught him to fight and think and obey and it looked like I'd done a shit job.

"What?" I asked, jerking my head around. "What, Master Aro?" I corrected myself.

"This situation is unprecedented, my dear Bella," Aro repeated himself in that voice that sounded kindly if you didn't know the sorts of things he could order right after using it. "I ask your opinion of the matter: What should be done with poor Stephen?"

Edward had told me what to say. The safest thing to say.

"His body is evidence, Masters."

Aro nodded, but I could see a tightening in his lower eyelids. Behind him, I saw Caius's lips tighten. I wondered if they actually do anything about what everyone said here. If it had been up to me, I'd have hung on to Stephen's bits even if we had to stuff them in a trophy cabinet and say they were a Halloween prop. What if we got his head back and didn't still have the rest of him?

"That must be hard for you to say, my dear," said Aro, casually laying a hand on my shoulder, as if any touch from him could be casual, "considering that he was your student."

I looked him in the eye and waited for him to get it over with. We'd been through this before. I was glad that my palms couldn't sweat. If I looked more nervous than every other time he'd tried to read me, he might think it was because I was the spy. Except that did make me more nervous than every other time he'd tried to read me.

"That's kind of you, Master Aro," I answered. I couldn't wait for him to get his paws off me. And there it was, that same hard look on his face right before that fake smile came back. If trying to read my mind upset him so much, why didn't he just leave me alone?

"Thank you, Bella," said Caius. "You may go."

"Unless—" Aro turned around as I spoke. I should have just gotten the hell out of there, but it was too late now. Besides, what if he hadn't tried it?

I licked my lips. "Master, can you read him?"

Aro actually seemed to frown.

"Can you read Stephen's mind when you touch him?" I asked. "If he's still got thoughts, then..." Then what? "Maybe we could tell where he is."

Aro looked away and I'd wished Edward were there to tell me what he was thinking. "A limb is just a limb, little Bella," he said. "It has no thoughts on its own."

Edward was waiting for me right outside. "What's the tally?" I murmured. Around here, most collective decisions took place in the feasting hall, with everyone present at once (and Chelsea pulling strings double-time). I wondered if they'd actually act on it. The gossip mill was active enough for people to figure out what the majority opinion had really been.

He exhaled. "Most of the guard is very disturbed by this new ...tactic," he said. "But only a few people have admitted it."

"So Stephen goes crispy."

"Looks like."

I dropped my voice. "And the other thing?"

Edward gave me a chiding look. "What? I didn't say it."

"People can hear us, Bella, they're not supposed to know there's another thing." He looked away. "But no, nothing on the other thing."

"You want to listen to their thoughts all night, don't you?" I asked sullenly.

"Advance warning would be good, Bella, yes," he told me in his I'm-trying-to-be-level tone.

I didn't sigh. Not too much. We stepped out of sight and waited. Inside the compound, the custom of giving mated pairs artificial privacy was so strong that a man and a woman in a shadowy corner usually got ignored, even if they were only holding hands. So long as he lay with his head in my lap, no one would realize that he was spying on their conversations with the masters. By now I could read his face so well that he hardly needed to speak. Hope—a new person walking in to speak to the masters. Focus—some curious thought that he'd tell me about later. Resignation—no new developments.

Could someone have been faking it? Not for the first time, I wondered just how deeply Edward had buried his memories of Alice. If Aro had touched him today for the first time, would she have been safe from him? Could the spy have buried his identity like Edward had buried his sister?

We were far enough from the audience chamber that not every vampire had to pass within sight to reach it. Still, I watched the parade of feet from the corner of my eye. The times favored practical shoes with wide treads and thick laces, even for women in skirts. Renata passed by us in her smoke-gray cloak. She didn't look at us. Heidi came by in dark stockings and a tight, stylish vest over a full knee-length skirt. I didn't look at her.

I let my own thoughts run, dredged up my old habits of looking at Volterra as a big walnut shell to be cracked open. Technically, using an ex-newborn as a spy would probably work. Edward had told me that Jasper's old master, Maria, had made him kill all their newborns once their strength was done. Caius had considered it, Edward said, but dismissed it as impractical. But we couldn't keep them all either. In the beginning, we'd just let them go out into the world on their own, but Aro had probably figured out that sooner or later some of them might feel a little miffed about being used up and thrown away. So Chelsea had been kept very busy, instilling in our newborns oodles of love for their gracious imperial benefactors. I was fine with it, really. Whatever kept her mind off Edward and her claws off Caroly.

Besides, Chelsea wasn't needed to ensure my girl's loyalty. The way she saw things, the Volturi had given her everything. The masters weren't entirely unappreciative of her efforts, especially not Aro. He could be that way, if you had a talent.

Edward's eyes went wide, and his breath left his body.

"What is it?" I asked, risking a break in his concentration. "Did they find the spy?"

Edward shook his head. "It's not that. I mean... it might be, but it isn't directly."

He looked square at me.

"Andrew has run away."


Sorry for the long delay and scattery chapter, but forty-two was being difficult, and I wanted to get it hammered out before posting anything that might need to be changed later.

drf24 (at) columbia (dot) edu