*crawls from out of hole* Hello, precious readers! I know it's been a while since I've posted anything, but here I am rejoining society (fanfic society?), and getting my newest story started. A few things you should know: 1. This will probably be the longest A/N you'll see in this story.
1. This will probably be the longest A/N you'll see in this story.
2. "Atmosphere" is my first AU I've posted, so it will have a different feel to my other stories.
3. There will be a bit of terminology to keep up with, but don't worry, I won't make it too overwhelming. In case you ever need explaining, I'll include a "Terminology" section at the end of each chapter to help out.
4. So far, this story will be unBeta'd so all mistakes are mine.
5. This story will occur in 3 major parts (all of which will be posted in this story). Don't worry, this isn't a "Camp" scenario where I'll stop part way through. *Throws shade at self.*
6. Update on my other stories: I'm still, painfully, trying to finish Camp Part II, but for now we'll say it's on hiatus. As for my baby, LoMPW, I'm considering doing a few epilogue chapters, so I'll let you know when that's definitely a thing to look out for. I had so much fun writing the story and reading your reviews from it, so I'm inspired to keep the story alive.
7. Almost all of the characters in this story aren't mine, but I hope you'll enjoy how I've used them.
Please enjoy, and don't hesitate to ask me anything. Thanks for reading!
Part I: Lyrebird
I am a bird.
I am a pathetic, feeble bird.
Isa thinks this every time she returns to the dome shaped, suspended cage that Aro has built for her. One by one she tucks her wings in, keeping them as close to her body as she can while she slips through the iron bars. The guard slams the sliver of a door behind her, and disappears without a second look. She learned a long time ago that he had no pity for her.
Now accommodated with more space, she relaxes her wings, allowing them to brush against the cushions of her bed that lies on the floor. Aro had at least thought to furnish the bottom of the cage with bedding, and the walls with shelves to hold her meager belongings –most of which are books. She plucks a worn novel from its place, and reads it as if she hasn't already read it a thousand times.
Since the beginning of time the sun and moon have been in battle. It has been a battle of domination, each wanting to occupy the sky. And so, a pact was made between two families to ensure the equal distribution of power. Both extraterrestrial bodies would occupy the sky for eleven hours, and two hours each day would be allowed for transition. In this way, both the children of the moon and the children of the sun would have power in their lands, and learn to coexist. But there are people, those who do not understand the importance of this equilibrium, who look to destroy the foundation of the land. This is why guardians have been placed to ensure balance, so that in the event of disorder the land will persevere.
With a sigh she shuts the book, unable to get through the first page. She stands and makes her way to the boundaries of her prison, and shakes the bars. She knows she cannot escape; she no longer even tries. No, Bella shakes them as a means of creating a noise to fill the silence. The action is short lived as she soon grows anxious, and stops herself from the frantic movement. Anxiety is a feeling, and Isa has learned that feelings have no place in this Volturian Castle.
Feelings have no place in a pathetic, feeble bird.
"Isabelle," a familiar voice calls Isa from her slumber, "T'es exerefatu es?"
"I am awake now," Isa answers. "I was wondering when you'd come."
Immediately, a sense of calmness comes over Isa. The corners of her lips upturn slightly, as she reaches a hand through the cage. Jane is at Isa's side in a second, and accepts the outstretched hand.
"How are you sister?" Jane asks.
"Fine," Isa answers, the same as always, "And you?"
"I am doing well," Jane says, "I-I talked with father about you."
Isa snatches her hand back, "Jane-,"
"He's agreed to allow you more hours at night to be free," she smiles.
Isa's expression remains unanimated, "He doesn't know the meaning of freedom."
"Don't…please don't speak like that before someone hears you," Jane begs, "At least you won't be in here for eighteen hours."
"I'm sorry," Isa sighs, "You're right. Thank you."
"Do not thank me," Jane shakes her head, "For I have truly done nothing for you."
A silence settles between them. Understandably, the topic of Isa's confinement has always been one of tension between them. Isa knows it's not Jane's fault that she's locked in a cage. Isa is forever fated to the prison because of Aro's hate for her mother's actions. Nevertheless, Jane feels guilty that she receives so much preference from her father, and that her half-sister is subject to his wrath.
Jane breaks the silence, "Are you ready?"
Isa nods, and unstrings the back of her corset before slipping her arms through the mesh sleeves. Once she releases the fabric, the dress pools at her waist, leaving the top half of her torso bare. Afterwards, she pulls the tresses of her white hair onto her right shoulder, and reveals the intricate design on her left shoulder. Meanwhile, Jane prepares the tools she brought with her, starting with cleaning the needle, and then pouring the dye.
"I don't understand why you still do this," Jane mutters as she starts pricking Isa's skin with the needle, "If any insignia inspector were to check this, they'd charge you with fraud. It'd be better if you had nothing at all."
"How would I explain that to anyone, Jane, when I've no idea what it means myself?" Isa sucks in a sharp breath, as she endures the sting of the tattoo.
"You know how important the insignia is," Isa finishes.
Jane pauses a moment during the tattooing process, and Isa knows that she is admiring Isa's authentic insignia, the one that had appeared from her birth. The intricate design of stars and fire begins mid back, below her wings, and stretches down to the base of her spine. With each year the design becomes more complex, resulting in what looks like a painted masterpiece on Isa's skin. Every moonchild and sunchild is born with an insignia; sunchildren have the design of the sun on their left shoulder, while moonchildren have the design of the moon on their right shoulder. Each design is like a fingerprint –unique to its owner. Every year, at the time of birth, the body generates an addition to the design. Isa's insignia is inexplicable as it is located in the center of her back, and is of neither the sun, nor the moon; she is sure it exists on no one else. She guesses that for this reason, her birth mother had begun a false insignia on her left shoulder to fool others into thinking Isa is a sunchild. Jane sighs before she continues to add to the false design.
Design…Isa snorts. The word 'design' makes the insignia seem so trivial when in reality the insignia is the core of one's being. To destroy the insignia would mean death. That is the only saving grace of Isa's falsehood –no one but Jane knows the location of her weakness.
"I'm nearly done," Jane says.
Isa sighs in relief, "It never gets easier."
"Unfortunately, I can only bestow pain –not relieve it," Jane jokes lightly.
But Isa does not chuckle in response. Jane expected as much –she couldn't remember the last time she heard her sister's laugh. With a sigh, she finishes the addition to the insignia, and then proceeds to pack her tools. Isa runs her fingers over the tattoo, and draws back a small amount of blood from the pinpricks.
"Would you like to be let out tonight?" Jane asks, pulling Isa out of her inspection of the blood on her fingertips.
"No," Isa answers immediately.
"I said no," Isa stops her abruptly. "Goodnight, sister."
Jane sighs and picks up her belongings. She leans in to press a kiss to her sister's cheek, but cannot because Isa has moved away from the bars. Isa sits naked with her knees drawn to her chest, her white hair a coat on her shoulders, an added shield to the bars of her cage. Her black eyes are unwavering as she stares at herself in her mirror, scrutinizing herself as closely as she had the blood on her hand. Jane often sees Isa in this position, and knows that at this point Isa is impossible to communicate with. All the same, she whispers before she leaves,
"Happy Birthday, Isa."
"Where is my Osen?"
Isa tightens her dress around her shoulders and back as she sits up from her position of slumber. She releases her wings automatically and extends them just as she extends her arms for a good stretch. By the time Aro walks in, she is fully clothed, and sitting back on her heels.
"I am here, King Aro," she replies softly, hoping in vain that her answer will be so soft that he does not hear her, and will stop pursuing her. Of course, this doesn't happen.
"Have you been sleeping this entire time?" Aro smiles at Isa as he rounds the corner, "You lazy little thing."
Isa does not reply, but instead lowers her eyes to the ground out of habit. Aro's presence brings out a myriad of emotions within Isa. On the one hand, the hate she feels for this man is incredible; a quiet but steady, burning hatred. She hates the evil man he's become –the soulless tyrant that let nothing, not even his family, stand in the way of dominance. Aro's abilities have turned him into a power hungry demon, and Isa can say without exaggeration that he's ruined every life he's been involved in. What is worse? The same ability lies within Isa. She hates the fact that a piece of him resides in her. To look in the mirror is a painful reminder of this, and she often finds herself studying her appearance to desperately pick out the traits of herself that don't remind her of her father. Despite all of this, she cannot forget the father he had been, the man who had loved her, and treated her as if she were his world. Only now, that man no longer exists.
"Get up." He says. His words are soft like a suggestion, but the command is clear. Aro hardly ever needs to shout to get his point across. "Now, don't look so down. Did you think I forgot your birthday? Have I ever forgotten?"
Isa is silent once more.
"Answer me." Aro says.
"No, King Aro." She answers.
"Correct. I have never forgotten –does that not show how thoughtful I am, Osen? Would you like to see your present?"
Isa does want to see it, solely because she wants to destroy it. What were once genuine gifts of love had turned into apparatus of blackmail. So whenever Aro gives her a gift, she normally smashes it into as many pieces as she can manage.
"Here it is," Aro snaps his fingers, and in comes a servant with a box covered by a black, silk cloth. He unveils it quickly, his smile wide as he thrusts the box towards Isa.
Inside is a small black bird with a silver beak. It sits still in the box, so still that Isa wonders if it's dead.
She wouldn't put it past Aro to gift her a corpse.
"It is a songbird!" Aro chuckles with delight, "A songbird for my songbird. Do you not get it? I call you Osen –and I have now presented you with one. I swear, Isabelle, you are really quite dense."
Finally Isa speaks up, "I do not want it."
Aro raises a brow, a smile still firmly on his face, "And why is that?"
"I will not let you cage anything else in here with me," Isa replies, "Birds are not meant to be kept in cages."
"Dangerous ones are," Aro grins wickedly.
Isa's cheeks flush at this, and she releases a short, angered breath. She quickly has to remind herself that there is no point in arguing with Aro. His interaction with her is merely a show –another move in his game of chess.
"Now, despite your ungratefulness, I will still give you this bird," Aro picks up the bird, and places it in Isa's hand. Before leaving he says, "Break it if you want, Isabelle, just like you have broken all my other gifts."
But Isa knows this is the one gift she will keep because despite what Aro says, she is not a killer. Though admittedly, she is tempted to end the thing's life, just so that it won't have to live in misery alongside her.
She sits in her cage with the bird, carefully holding it in her palm. The only sign that the thing is alive is the telltale fluttering of its heart.
"Can you not even open your eyes? You are a pitiful, fragile little thing," she spits at the bird, and places it atop her own wing. For the first time it moves on its own accord, settling itself on Isa's silver, feathered appendage. The bird adjusts its wings, and gets comfortable in its position. Isa can feel its little talons gently grasping her feathers and cartilage. She doesn't want to admit it, but the feeling warms her.
"At least you being here means I'm not alone," Isa admits into the silence.
T'es exerefatu es –Are you awake? [Volturian]
Insignia –the design that separates moonchildren from sunchildren. It's both an identifier, and the core of a supernatural being. Everyone has a unique variation of the basic design (kind of like fingerprints).
Sunchildren –those born during the hours of the sun, and who have a sun insignia on their left shoulder
Moonchildren –those born during the hours of the moon, and who have a moon insignia on their right shoulder
In an effort to spread positivity, I'll be signing off with quotes, so here is my choice for this posting:
"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are."
― Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger
Thanks for reading! ~CH