Hello again! I hope you all had a most excellent Christmas, or a happy holiday (depending on what you celebrate!).
Now *rubs hands together with glee* let us continue with Anna and Beth's saga! I haven't come up with a solid title for it, but The Immortal Coil Saga has a nice ring to it (tell me what you think in your review!).
Onwards, dear readers!
DISCLAIMER: Anything you don't recognise belongs to me. Anything else belongs to Stephenie Meyer
Rated M for language
Today is the day
2nd October 2011
Dawn was breaking in the Italian city of Volterra. Just like everyday, the humans would continue on with their lives, completely unaware of the vampires that existed (and hunted) right under their very noses.
Anna was one of these vampires, watching the morning bloom from her bedroom window. A light breeze tickled her face and played with her dark, unruly curls. Her lilac shawl flapped around her shoulders.
She rested her folded hands upon the stone lip of the windowsill, allowing the sun's sleepy light to caress the emerald glinting on her finger. Anna couldn't stop looking at it, couldn't stop touching the diamonds that orbited, star-like, around the little birthstone.
Laughing to herself, it came out soft and a little bewildered.
Holy shit! Beth would say, tossing her messy fringe out of her golden eyes to get a better look at it. Look at the size of that thing!
Anna sighed. Imagining her sister by her side did not make the ache of her absence any less painful. As of a few days ago, she hadn't seen Beth for three months. She was staying in a little town in America, Washington, with friends who, like her, refused to drink human blood to survive.
Today is the day.
Today Anna would call her, and tell her the good news. She sat down at her vanity table, her fingertips brushing the cover of the diary that lay there, tantalisingly open upon the tabletop. Antoine had left these to her after his death. They started from 1911 to 2010, and were proving to be a fascinating (if rather sad) read.
He should be here. I almost wish he was.
It had been him who had bitten her, her frustratingly secretive mentor, all for the good of the future – this future blossoming before her. His preliminary plan had been to find a mate, which he had in Sabine, some years after discovering Anna. His ability to see the gifts a vampire would possess meant he had known she would make a good Queen long before Anna knew it herself.
But Darius was the reason Antoine was not standing outside the door now, waiting for her to get ready before finding her fiancé. Amidst all the confusion of him apparently losing his mind and creating an immortal child, it had been Darius pulling the strings.
He would be ecstatic to hear about the news. Looking in her mirror, a bright-eyed almost-stranger gazed back at her.
"I'm engaged." Anna smiled a little wryly. If only Mother could see me now.
It had been a long time since she had thought about her past life, the one where she had been nothing more than a relatively well-off, half-French wine-merchant's daughter, with lofty dreams far above her gender and class.
In all her lack of maternal affection, Viola Eden had been nothing but ambitious for her two daughters. Anna's older sister, Harriet, had been a very willing student, wanting nothing more than to please her mother by finding a rich, handsome man, and ultimately having the grandchildren she so craved.
Young Anna had often wondered if Harriet had ever had a dream – or even a thought – of her own. She, on the other hand, had found solace in the strong company of her best friends – Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Eyre.
Maybe that was why Viola had struggled with her. Anna had never enjoyed gossiping about trivial things like fickle fashion trends, and who was marrying who. She had been happy to talk about the books she had read, the music that moved her, and what important things were going on in the world. She had wanted to marry for love. She had wanted to marry Tom.
The memory of him hurt like a splinter in her heart, small enough to go unnoticed until she prodded around…then it made her gasp in pain.
He had come from a family of brilliant bakers – yet they hadn't been rich enough, according to Mother. She had wanted her youngest daughter to marry a prosperous work colleague of Father's. Gerald. Anna shuddered at that name. The memories were dim and muddied, but that didn't mean the nausea it induced was gone.
But Anna had turned down so many suitors that Mother had appeared desperate enough to ignore that he had been over twice Anna's age, had also been married before, and had probably beaten that wife into a miscarriage that led to her untimely death.
What was more, Mother had been quick to quash any kind of dream of running away with Tom, never letting her out of her sight. So, in a way, Antoine and Darius had come at the right time. If it weren't for them, Anna would have probably ended up marrying Gerald…or, most likely, hanging herself.
Anna considered what Mother would have thought of Aro. He was well-groomed, charismatic, and above all, (as Beth would say) he was absolutely fucking loaded. That would have been enough for Viola Eden. She probably would have wanted to move in, too, if she saw where Anna was living now: a fortress of marble and gold.
But that was her old life; her family were all dead now. Anna had a feeling there were probably some great-grand-nieces and nephews scattered around America somewhere, but doubted she would recognise them if she encountered them.
Anna sighed. She had never really thought about it all until now, and it left her feeling a little hollow inside. Children were certainly not an option in this marriage, in this frozen body she had been living in for the last century.
Swallowing hard, Anna turned away from the window, hugging her elbows. She needed to find her…fiancé. A thrill coursed down her spine at the title, making her smile again.
I am engaged!
The ring on her finger was like a landmark, signalling a beautiful paradise in the distance. She had known it could happen for months now. Every kiss, every embrace had felt like a promise from him.
Soon. But not yet. I know you are not ready.
Her mind had bounced back and forth. Am I ready? When will I be? She wanted him so much, and had been enjoying, as well as integrating well, with the duties she had as Queen.
Anna knew she was growing in confidence. She could see it in her reflection now, the way her eyes sparked as she shed her shawl. The strapless blue jump-suit she wore was a personal favourite hers…and Aro's.
He had caught her by surprise, after all. She had expected him to propose in full view of his brothers and the entire Guard – instead, it hadn't been an extravagant affair at all, just him and the little box right here in this room.
She had almost given him a surprise when he had presented her with the ring. If only she hadn't been coming out of the shower at the time. Remembering the look on his face, Anna bowed her head in embarrassment.
He would be in his study now, writing down his musings on what he thought the day would bring. That made her smile; in all his eccentricities, her fiancé was a real creature of habit with his diaries.
Outside, Anna could hear Demetri listening to his music in his room, singing quietly along so as not to disturb anyone. It reminded her of Beth a little, in a way that caught her quite by surprise.
I never thought I would find myself comparing those two so fondly.
She met Alec and Jane on her way to Aro's study. Wishing her well, their scarlet eyes flickered to her ring, warming in a way she'd never believed they were capable of doing. In all their eternal youth (and dangerous gifts), the duo's smiles were a little unnerving.
Anna beamed at them anyway. On the high she was riding, she couldn't help it. "Good morning! Isn't it a beautiful one?"
She was coming towards Aro's study door, reaching to knock –
Her phone buzzed against her leg. The song it played was teasingly obnoxious, just like its owner.
"Who knows who that could be?" Alec asked, sarcastically, behind her.
Anna didn't hear this. "Hello?" She held her breath, waiting for her voice.
"Oh my God!" Her sister's cry sounded like she had been punched in the gut. "Anna?!"
"Hello, Beth," she said warmly.
"Hi! Wow, it's fucking awesome to hear your voice!"
The line was crackling, but Anna laughed. "I was just about to call you! How are you?"
"Pfft, never mind me." Beth always hated small-talk, especially when there was something more important to talk about. "A little pixie tells me you've got some good news."
Anna giggled. "I do. He proposed last night." A pixie? Doesn't she mean birdie? She stepped back as Aro opened the door. They smiled at each other for a moment.
He gestured to her phone. "Do I need to ask?" She shook her head, listening to Beth's laughter.
"Fuck! Alice was right! Ooh, shit…" Her voice grew quiet as she spoke to someone with her. "Sorry for waking you, hon. It's Anna. Yeah, Ness! The inevitable has happened! Hang on, hang on," – She cleared her throat. – "Sorry. That was Nessie, wanting to know what I was laughing about. I may have, uh, woken her up."
Anna saw Aro's eyebrows shoot up. "Nessie? Is that Renesmee?" she asked.
"Yeah. You'd love her," Beth replied casually. "So! Tell us the goss! Was it all rose petals and white doves? Confetti cannons? God, I bet it was."
"Didn't Alice's vision tell her all she needed to know?" Aro murmured, pulling Anna into his arms. Her breath stuttered audibly.
"I heard that! Hello, Aro," Beth called, with a lot less enthusiasm than before. "No. It didn't."
"What did she tell you?" Anna asked gently.
"Not very much." Anna heard her shrug. "She just saw the ring…and you nearly getting an eyeful of my sister, Aro." Beth gave a very uncouth snort. " "
"It was a pure accident, I assure you." He had the decency to chuckle uncomfortably. In his lap, Anna bit back a groan.
"If you say so," Beth was sniggering. "So, when's this wedding's gonna be?"
"Uh, it's October. Be a bit more specific, please!"
"Beth, we only got engaged last night!" Anna laughed.
"Yeah, and Dora's been planning this thing for months. You must have some idea of when you'll be having it, hon," Beth said. "Do I need to book plane tickets soon, or what?"
Anna said nothing for a moment, thinking. Honestly, she was still buzzing, and hadn't had the chance to really consider what would come next. What a mess I am. She stroked Aro's cheek as an excuse to touch him, letting him have access to her thoughts.
What about January? Her eyes suddenly lit up, struck with romantic inspiration. Or Valentine's Day?
He closed his eyes, smiling placidly. "Whatever you wish, my love."
"February," Anna said to Beth. "Although you will certainly receive an invitation."
"Bien sur! I'll come around the end of January to help you out."
"Let me know when you'll be on your way."
"Will do. In the meantime…" She called into the background again. "Hey, Ness? I'm staying for Christmas!"
They both heard the girlish cheer that erupted on her crackly line. "I think she's happy about that," Anna observed.
"Yeah. I have that effect on people here," Beth sniffed, chuckling. "Well, I guess I better tell everyone the news – and let you two celebrate properly, eh?"
Anna was surprised, and a little saddened, to know she was saying goodbye already. "Oh. Okay. Then I'll call you again closer to the time."
"Glad to hear it, bride-to-be."
That made Anna smile. "And you, maid-of-honour!"
"Ha!" Beth grunted in mock-disdain. "Is that your way of asking me?"
"That depends…is that a yes?"
"Let me think about it," she drawled. "Hell yes!"
"Just as I thought," Anna beamed.
"Alright, I better go. Bye, Aro!" Beth sang.
Surprised to be acknowledged, Aro raised an eyebrow. "Goodbye, dear Beth. Say hello to Renesmee for us."
Now it could have been the line, but it almost sounded like Beth muttered something rather rude before hanging up.
Unsurprised, Anna sighed all the same, and let her phone slide onto Aro's desk.
"That went better than I expected," she said quietly. At least she's happy.
"Hmm," was all he said, and Anna loved him for it. She kissed him, long and indulgent.
So, what have you written today, my fiancé? Feeling bold, she twisted languorously in his lap to look, enjoying the noise her movements evoked out of him.
His diary sat open, gold-embossed with thick, cream paper. It was just the one line, written in Italian, but today's entry warmed her heart with its simple sweetness:
She said yes.
Turning back, she surveyed his face for a moment. It was aglow with barely restrained joy – and something more if the pressure against her leg was a clue. The shiver that worked its way up and down her spine made the courage in her waver just a little, but she kissed him again, harder.
Yes, she did.
Ooh, it feels good to be writing with these characters again! It felt necessary to tell a bit more of Anna's back-story in this chapter as she embarks on the biggest moment of her life.
And we've got some new characters lined up as well, so stay tuned for those...