magic is real

Ella is - different.

She's always been different. She doesn't know why and it's not like there are many clues to piece together any answers. Orphaned as an infant, she doesn't know where she comes from and at this point in her life - a runaway in mid-December just on the cusp of turning sixteen - she doesn't know where she's going.

Ella has nothing to call her own, not even a last name. Her birth certificate, a crinkly, weathered thing from Persia - of all places - simply reads Isobella. No last name, no link to her parents. And no hope of one day finding an explanation for the things she can do. For the things that make her different.

The things that make her a freak.

The things that make her freakishly good at pick-pocketing.

Stomach cramped into an angry snarl, Ella hunches her shoulders against snowy wind and lets her gaze rove over the pedestrians ambling through the park. Most of them look happy. She tries not to let the contentment of other people bother her as she searches for her target.


Thirty, ash-blond, wears a woolen coat that is in good shape but not new-new. Alone. Talking on the phone in an absurdly proper British lilt. Looks like exactly the type to carry a money-clip instead of a wallet. She falls into step behind the man, not too close, and ignores the rumbling of her belly as she focuses intently - wishing, reaching, wanting. She speeds her stride, then deliberately bumps into the man's shoulder.

She mumbles, "Sorry." Then between one moment and the next, the distinct crisp of cash slips between her numb fingers hidden in the pocket of the shabby coat she stole earlier that week. Success. Tramping down her elation at the promise of hot food, Ella strides past the man with an apologetic shrug, keeping her pace casual. Trying not to draw attention to herself.

But then the snow beneath her feet turns slick - and Ella finds herself on her back. She winces, hauling herself onto her elbows only to come face-to-face with the man she'd just robbed. He's crouching down beside her, staring pensively.

"Hardly the Christmas spirit to be thieving, is it?"

Her eyes widen. "I don't know what you're talking about," she bluffs.

The man snaps his fingers twice, flourishing two bills - the money she'd just wished into her own pockets - in front of her face. "And using magic to do it? Very naughty. Have you not been trained better? There's a code, you know."

Ella stammers, shaking her head. She's never seen anyone do anything remotely close to what she can do - and now it seems like she's found someone like her. Only, he's frowning at her now in concern as she says, "Magic isn't real."

The man looks pointedly at the ground.

Ella follows his gaze.

The ground beneath her isn't snowy or icy. It's turned into melted water in a perfect two-foot circle, warm and wet and seeping into her coat. She gapes.

"Magic is real, lass," he says. Then, he holds out his hand with a friendly smile. "I'm Carlisle Cullen. Would you care to join me for dinner? You look like you've a lot of questions."

And normally, a strange man buying her dinner is, like, a hundred red-flags.

But Ella goes - because magic is real.

Ella isn't different, after all.

She's magic.

A/N: I had an idea.

As always, be brutally honest. I can take it.