Bella and her mother Renée moved to Mystic Falls when she was 14 years old. The days that she hated her mother outnumbered the days where she loved her dearly. Renée wasn't a suitable mother, not at all. She was flighty and inconsistent. She was an artist and always forgot about the time so as soon as Bella was able to make mac and cheese, she cooked to make sure she had something to eat.
Bella cared for her mother as a mother should take care of her child but it was almost as if moving to Mystic Falls had made her mother more restless. More forgetful and certainly more spiritual. Bella never believed in anything spiritual, it was as if you were living with your head in the clouds with silly little rules such as 'no, that couch should go there to let the positive energy flow better!' and she hated it.
Her mother couldn't hold down a job and if it hadn't been for Zach Salvatore at times, they would have lost the roof over their heads a long time ago. When Bella was 16, her mother felt constricted and for some reason afraid, and wanted to move again.
Bella didn't want to move. She had her life here in Mystic Falls, she had made some friends in school and she wanted to be more rooted in a community other than moving every few years. Enough was enough. This was also a compelling argument to Renée, who reluctantly instructed Bella to emancipate herself.
Renée knew that Bella would be able to take care of herself, and while she'd always be her mother, if Bella truly didn't want to move, she'd have to emancipate. Charlie, Bella's father, was a little more difficult to get him to agree with the plan. But Bella argued that if she'd go to Forks, she'd have to take care of him, too, and that was something Bella did not want to do. She was a child. She wanted to be a normal teenager and it was time for her parents to live their own lives without having to be responsible for her.
Zach Salvatore offered the guest house on his land. He owned this big boarding house where people occasionally stayed, and the guest house was somewhat removed from it, but also close enough for Bella to come in and grab a meal whenever she wanted. The Salvatores were one of the founding families of Mystic Falls, Bella felt honored that one of those families wanted to look after her as she started her new life and learning to navigate it on her own.
She absolutely loved history and Mystic Falls had its fair share of it. She had read every book in the library and found it interesting that there had been so many animal related deaths and accidents in the past while there was nothing going on right now. In fact, Mystic Falls was the perfect little sleepy town where old people went to retire and die. But they didn't; they all went to Florida.
Animal attacks or not, Bella loved walking around in the forest to focus on her schoolwork, spotting the occasional fox here and there. They were surprisingly kind and curious to her. It was almost as if they had crawled out of their dens specially for her, but that would just be stupid, wouldn't it? To even think that she had some connection with nature would have her stoop to the level of her mother's 'spirituality'. It just wasn't possible.
She found a job waiting tables at the Mystic Grill; as most of the youth did, and she planned on sticking around, unlike most of the youth did. She liked waiting tables and observe people as it helped her with her characters for the stories she was writing. Bella had based the caretaker of an animal sanctuary on Zach Salvatore and the antagonist on Logan Fell, the news reporter from the local station WPKW9. Bella believed Fell to be foul, slippery and a moron and often not telling the truth about what he was reporting.
Tragedy struck in 2009 when the Gilberts ran off the Wickery Bridge and drowned, leaving Elena and her brother Jeremy orphans. The whole town came together in making sure the children were alright until their aunt Jenna could come and take care of them. Bella perceived Jenna to be too young for such a task, but Elena had a level head. She was a smart girl with the best taste in boyfriends. Matt Donovan was a catch. Sure, he wasn't one of the brightest, but his heart was in the right place. For Elena to have broken up with him had been selfish, probably.
Matt wasn't interested in dating Bella. Perhaps it was too soon after his breakup with Elena. Bella was dating her classmate Moritz instead, at the start of the new school year. Moritz liked it that she was without parental supervision and had her own home to be in. He was kind, goofy and a bit out of touch with the rest of the world, but he was nice. And she wasn't single in her senior year. Bella never understood the pressure of dating someone; peer pressure was a bitch, but she wasn't using Moritz. She thoroughly liked him, wild hair and all.
His family had roots in Germany and Moritz was a family name. He hated it, but Bella thought it was special; everyone had these normal names in Mystic Falls, it was good to stand out, especially considering that Moritz was a musician; he couldn't be another regular Joe. And she loved it that he was so normal, so grounded, so down to earth. Like Matt, but less of the testosterone from playing football.
When you live in a small town as Mystic Falls, new things often gain the attraction of others very fast. Such as the new kid in town; Stefan Salvatore. As he strolled down the hall of the high school, most of the girls were nearly fainting at the sight of him. Bella merely rolled her eyes and texted Zach, wondering if he and Stefan were related. She didn't get anything back for the rest of the day, but she found out that he was in Elena Gilbert's class. With Matt. And Elena's friends.
Lunch time was even worse with all those hormones flying around and even Moritz questioned her about her lack of response to Stefan. "I've got you, why should I lust after someone else?" She had smiled brightly at him and continued to listen to his playing on the guitar while she jotted down some notes in her notebook for her writing project.
Silly, maybe, but she was writing fanfiction; it was a hell of a coincidence, but Stephenie Meyer was a genius for writing Twilight. Vampires weren't real, but the names she used in the books were familiar. Like… totally familiar that Bella thought about suing the woman for using her family as a plot device. She was currently working on a crossover with Supernatural. Bella Swan; vampire hunter. Monster hunter, alongside of her hunks Dean and Sam Winchester. Oh yeah, she'd have sex with them both. But she hadn't gotten to that part yet. At this point fictional Bella was ankle deep in the sewer, armed with a flashlight stalking a vampire called Jasper, so not sexy. But real Bella was sure that by the end of the scene, the vampire would be dead.
While Bella loved writing original fiction, fanfiction was sometimes a breath of fresh air; she could use the worlds that were already established and mold it into something she liked. Writing in general made her process things. Deal with her issues with her parents and shit. Her own sexual frustrations. Killing off everyone she didn't like around her. That kind of thing.
Bella loved history, and most of her research was put in her stories. Her reviewers always praised her for being so descriptive and in depth. Detailed. So that was fun. She loved using mythology. Despite her viewing mythology as absurd stories told for generations and not real, she loved playing with it. She loved to figure out the psychology of people who did believe in myths and legends. Vampires. Werewolves. Angels. Demons.
Granted, everyone loved a spooky story every once in awhile but to truly believe? Nah. That's like saying that magic and witches were real. Yeah right.
When Bella arrived home after school and her shift at the grill, Zach met her at the guest house, saying that for the time being, it would be best if she didn't show up at the main house. His nephews were over and he wanted to have some quality family time with them. He instructed her not to invite them into her house, either, mainly because they were like strays. Invite them in once, and they'd continue to come back and hang out whenever they wanted to, eat your food and destroy your home.
While Bella thought it was a little extreme, she went along with it. After all, it was thanks to Zach that she had a roof over her head and he was her landlord. And maybe Stefan and his brother were bad boys and Zach wanted to protect her.
Bella participated in the fundraiser although she didn't like the theme of it; the girls had to be scarcely clothed, preferably in their bikini's only. See, Bella wanted to be a member of society, but to do this? What was she thinking? It was something that Zach had once told her; it was good to go out there and embarrass yourself every once in awhile, if it was for a good cause. So she and one of her classmates, Jeri, were soaping up cars together, having fun and playing with the water on the hot summer's day. It was refreshing to cool down some and while raising funds for charity, they were actually being productive.
And Bella so didn't see Bonnie Bennett stare at that car and had it go up in flames. Nope. That wasn't possible. It was a heatstroke for sure! And it wasn't Stefan Salvatore who stopped Bonnie, seemingly knowing what was going on. Heatstroke.
Bella excused herself and went home, stopping by the ice cream place on her way back and she was going to have a lie down. A couple of hours later, she went to the main house to check up on Zach, she had a feeling that he needed her for some reason. Ha, look at that, she was starting to think like her mother. She was ripe for the loony bin for sure!
Stefan opened the door, looking grief stricken and Bella could feel a knot form in her stomach. "What happened?"
"Uh…" Stefan replied, at a loss for words. "Animal attack… Uncle Zach was working on something in the cellar and I think that one of the crates had a poisonous snake in it or something. It's still on the loose."
"Bullshit," Zach's voice sounded and Bella looked around Stefan to see Zach stand there in the hallway, looking slightly shimmery. "Oh, don't get me wrong, I am dead. But it wasn't an animal attack. Don't freak out, Bella. Don't let Stefan know that you can see me. Excuse yourself and go home. I'll come to you."
"Are you okay?" Stefan asked, looking behind him as Bella had lost focus. "I know you liked Uncle Zach as much as I did…"
"Yeah…" Bella said, seemingly lost in her own thoughts before her eyes focused on his. "I… uh… I'm sorry for your loss. If you need anything you know where to find me?"
"Thanks, Bella," he smiled at her. "I appreciate that."
Bella nodded as she backed away from the door and walked back to her little house. On her way there, she was joined by Zach. "What are you?"
"Dead," he deadpanned. "It's about time you started to show your abilities," Zach continued. "For a moment I believed that it had skipped yet another generation!"
"Abilities? Wait, if you're dead, how come I can see you?"
"Shhh, indoor voice," Zach said as he followed her inside her home. "I won't be around for long, I promise. I have no intention of staying here. Well, I wish I could, but if you'd bring me back you'd only draw attention to yourself."
"What?" Surely she was still suffering from that heatstroke.
"Oh, Bella, you're so deliciously oblivious to everything that seems unnatural and while that's endearing and all, I need you to stop doing that and see what it is. You don't have to tell anybody and I can assure you that you're not going crazy," Zach continued, a sense of urgency in his voice. "Do what you do best. Observe. See things. Start believing in things, Bella, even the unexplainable things."
"Like Bonnie setting the car on fire today?"
"Then yes. She must be a witch of some sort."
"That's the rumor…" she agreed, slowly nodding. "Wait, witches are real?"
"Yes. So are vampires and werewolves and well, ghosts."
She sat down on her couch and looked at him as if he was spouting nonsense. She was hallucinating. Dreaming. This couldn't be real.
"I know what you're thinking, Bella, and I know it's a lot to take in, but trust me. Your mother was terrified of what secrets this little town holds, but she knew that you'd be strong enough to stand up against it. To witness it. She wouldn't have allowed you to emancipate if it wasn't for me telling her that I would keep you safe, so I need you to listen to me, okay?"
Bella had always known that her mother was terrified of something in this place. Bella had always brushed it off as her mother being flighty; never wanting to stay in one place for too long. Perhaps Zach was telling the truth. She slowly nodded, prompting Zach to continue.
"Your mother has a sense of danger. Her intuition about the supernatural is usually spot on and even though she can't identify the threat, she knows it's real. It's why you've moved so many times but usually to supernatural hotspots. Like Mystic Falls. You're the first in a long line of your family on your mother's side to show abilities, like communicating with me or those foxes following you around on your walkabouts."
Bella blinked at that. How did he know about the foxes?
"Bella, you're safe in Mystic Falls as long as you continue to act like you're like any other human being. Now that your abilities are manifesting, it'll be harder on you, but I implore you not to bring anyone back from the dead, even if they're begging you to do so."
"What? I can do that?"
"Maybe. I don't want you to find out without a proper guide. I would have been that guide for you but alas. Fate had other plans. You will know who the proper guide is when you meet him or her. It's likely he or she will be supernatural and very knowledgeable about witches or abnormalities like yourself."
"I'm abnormal?" Bella huffed. "Well, thanks."
"It's not good to be abnormal in the supernatural world, Bella. You need to stay safe. Stefan and Damon will allow you to stay on the property, you don't have to worry about losing your home. I just want you to continue to live your life, but now with the full knowledge that everything you see is real. It's not a trick of the mind, it's not a heatstroke and it's not a hallucination. It's about as real as the things you describe in your stories." Zach shimmered then. "I don't have very long, but if you get the chance, spend some time in the library at the house and read the journals with the true history of Mystic Falls. Not the crap the normal library gives you. Vampires are real and they are dangerous. Don't invite anyone inside your home, not even my nephews, alright?"
"Now, you're probably feeling like this is too much to take in and I'm sorry. Your first instinct is to run but please, don't. There's a reason why you wanted to live a life away from your mother, there's a reason why you wanted to stay here. I promise you that that reason will reveal itself to you, it could be in a month, two months or maybe even a year, but it will come. Until then, keep your head down and observe quietly. Learn all that you can and try not to use your abilities. Don't visit the cemetery and accidentally resurrect someone for it could be evil that you're bringing back."
She nodded again.
"And one last thing; don't have them play shitty music at my funeral."