So, this is a little daunting for me. After years of being completely off the grid, I am finally working my back into the Twilight Fanfiction world. And it feels very good to be back :-). This story has been twirling around in my mind for a while now and hasn't been letting go. Although my Real Life is extremely hectic, I have finally found some time to actually write! It feels amazing, and I hope to keep this going. The lovely Melissa Giselle Ramirez has been boosting my confidence as a pre-reader and is guiding me through the Twi-Fanfic world of fandom. Thank you!
A few minor warnings/tid bits of info. English was my first language growing up, and it is still my go to language when I want to express myself creatively, however, it has been my second language for many years now. Norwegian is my first language and you will probably spot a few mistakes here and there. My husband is Brazilian and we speak Portuguese at home, so a few Portuguese-inspired sentences might sneak in as well.
Luckily, I've found a wonderful beta: CoppertopJ. Thank you! We are working through the first unbeta'ed chapters slowly but surely.
A few words about the story:
This will be a slow build with lots of twists and turns that I hope will keep you on your toes. We have witches and wolves and I love my little alterative universe. I've decided to make it into a series and Book 1 will have 22 chapters.
I hope to update once a week (probably during the weekends).
Disclaimer: The Twilight Characters belong to Stephanie Meyers. The story is also slightly inspired by the fanfic Elemental by TallulahBelle and the book "The Mating" by Nick Charles. The story and the AU is mine!
A New Home
My heart is pounding in my chest. It's as though each of my limbs are at war, because I am forcing them to run away from him. My entire body is trembling and I have to use everything in me to move forwards. My wolf is howling in anger, battering against my control. She doesn't understand why I am running away… and she disagrees wholeheartedly. It takes every shred of self-discipline and strength to hold her at bay.
My fingers become numb as I touch the final door handle and for a moment I'm actually unable to open the door. Cold fear spreads down my spine as I wonder if my body will rebel and simply wait for him to find me. Relief washes over me as the door gives way. Fresh air filling my lungs. The oxygen acting as a soothing balm to my racing heart, but I know I can't stop. A dull pain has begun to grow in my lower belly, causing me to double over as nausea spreads through my stomach. Breathing heavily through my nose, I press on, the pain growing with each step I take away from him. I shudder, unsure of what consequences this might bring, but I press on. I feel for the keys in my jacket and sprint towards my car. Behind me I can hear heavy footsteps beating against the ground.
"BELLA!" His usual calm-as-ice voice is frantic. A spurt of energy spreads through my limbs at the sound of the anger in his voice.
"Shit!" I whisper as I jerk the door of my truck open, wincing at the screech it makes. I don't dare look back, knowing that if I see him, it will be game over. My body will never allow me to leave. With trembling fingers I push the key into the ignition, press down on the gas pedal and fly out of the parking lot. Away from him. My mate. My other half.
I jerk awake, my heart still racing in my chest. Sweat collecting at my brow.
"Steady, it was just a dream, Bells."
My father's rough hand awkwardly pats my knee, while he alternates between turning his concerned eyes from me to the road and back. I close my eyes tightly, the dream already fading. My wolf is pacing back and forth within me, alert, but confused as to what has caused such a strong reaction within me. We never share dreams, but she's always quick to react to my emotions. I force a deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth.
"It was just a dream." I whisper over and over until I can feel the tension release from my body and the dream disappear from my memory.
"I'm OK," I say calmly, before opening my eyes.
They instantly widen in surprise. The landscape around me is breathtaking. I must have slept for a long time. My new surroundings a far cry from the painfully dry land of Mesa, Arizona. The place that had been my home for all of my life. Up until now.
Around me there are towering trees as far as the eye could see, majestic mountains stretching towards the sky and a rapid moving river beside the small road we were on.
I close my eyes, wanting to connect with nature's loving presence. Quickly whispering the familiar spell, I reach out with my mind to greet this rich and lush piece of land. A giggle growing within me as I feel its joy. I can feel the wind dancing through the leaves, the cool water flowing in the river, the warmth of the sun. So much life.
"Dad, this place is beautiful!" I whisper, keeping my eyes closed as I explore the connection to this new place that will soon become my new home.
My wolf barks in excitement, begging for a good run. A sense of elation and deep belonging spreads through my entire body. Finally, a place where we can run without fear of being caught.
Before releasing myself from the spell, I send the land a loving "Thank you", allowing myself to feel its soft caress, before releasing it from my mind. Never have I been able to connect with a land so quickly and intensely before. I can't wait to see what it will be like when I am able to physically touch it. Run my fingers through the dirt, touch the rough bark of the trees...
A gruff laugh can be heard from my father's direction.
"Guess you like it here, huh?"
"Why did you ever move?" I ask unthinkingly. Immediately wishing I could take it back as I see the sadness grow in my father's eyes. His mouth turning grim.
"It's a long story, kiddo."
I fight the grimace that always arises when he uses that nickname. I am almost 21 and he still calls me "kiddo".
"I'm sorry, Dad. I know you don't like to talk about it," I apologize.
He breathes in deeply.
"No… Well, I don't, but I should. There are things you need to know."
He stops as though he is unsure of what to say next.
I move my attention to the rings on my fingers. A nervous habit of mine. Three simple bands don my right hand. A large gold band filled delicately with intricate details such as trees and a hidden wolf has found its home on my thumb. A simple gold wedding band on my middle finger and a delicate diamond ring sparkles softly on my ring-finger. My mother's engagement and wedding band, and my father's family ring. I study them quietly as I wait for my father to say something. The rings have found a permanent home on my hand ever since my mother died when I was 14.
"I promise I will be more forthcoming with you, but unfortunately you slept away most of the ride!" he laughs, if somewhat nervously.
I look his way, studying his profile. He is a good-looking man with only a few streaks of grey splattering through his dark hair. There are a few wrinkles here and there on his face, but they suit him. His black moustache has been a permanent fixture on his lip for as long as I can remember. I smile. He looks great, lighter somehow than I have ever seen him.
I am pulled from my silent browsing when I feel the car turn onto a small dirt road. My father looks my way, his dark eyes cautious. When his eyes met mine, he smiles encouragingly. However, I can see tension in his eyes and mouth that wasn't there earlier. Although he has been very clear about wanting to move back home, something about returning to this place is bothering him. I have thought about this several times over the last month, since he mentioned moving back here. As usual, I don't question it. My father is a quiet and serious man who doesn't like to speak about feelings. But he is also a man who would never do anything he didn't want to or feel passionate about. That was partly why I had accepted the move with no question.
The stifling weather in Arizona and lack of safe areas where our wolves could run free, was yet another reason for me to agree to the move. With my father's help, I'd easily been able to transfer to a small hospital where I could continue my work as a nurse. I had some friends I would miss, but in all honesty, I had always felt out of place in Arizona. My father was the only other shifter I knew. He had tried to help out and be supportive when I first began to phase, but my mother had just passed and… well it just wasn't a good time for either of us.
I breathe in a shaky breath and hold it as the car turns onto a long dirt road. After a short while, butterflies begin a wide driveway with a wooden arch. In the distance I can see a large white barn. My mouth widens as I read the beautifully carved letters:
I turn my questioning eye towards his, but he seems to be ignoring me. He doesn't even slow down. We own a ranch?
Four large wooden log houses lay in front of us, the road curving in front of each house creating a semi-circle. Far to the right I can make out a barn and a pasture with a few grazing horses. There are a few other small buildings scattered around. Most surprising, or intimidating, of all are the amount of people. 10, 15 maybe 20 people are working the grounds, all pausing to stare our way as the car moves up the curvy road. This is not something I'm prepared for.
"Dad?" I ask, my voice quivering slightly.
He clears his throat.
"I guess I kind of left out that we would be living on a ranch, huh?" There is a sheepish smile on his face.
"Yeah, that has our name on it!" I exclaim childishly.
"Yeah, it's been in the family for years," he replies, distracted. His attention is on the group of workers near the barn. He drives the car in their direction, parking expertly in something that appears to be a very familiar spot for him.
My father's eyes are drawn to a particular man in the group now right outside of the car. The man appears to be a little younger than my father. His long hair is pulled back into a ponytail, trailing down between his shoulders. His skin is dark from being out in the sun. But his face… He's the spitting image of my father. The man's strides are long as he takes the last steps towards us, almost running. A wide, carefree smile fills his face, one I see is mirrored on my father's. I don't think I've ever seen my father smile that widely.
"WOOOOOWEEEEEEEE!" The man shouts, throwing his hands in the air. My father's body is out the car door in seconds, his strong arms quickly wrapping around the other man in a tight hug.
Although feeling very confused, I can feel my father's joy and tears begin to burn in my eyes and a lump grows in my throat. My father is finally home. I can already see how a huge burden appears to have been lifted from his shoulders. The rest of the group has arrived now, each of them wearing huge smiles as they pull my father into heartfelt embraces. Several new people are joining the group, all greeting my father. Some of the younger men and women simply smile and shake his hand, but each one showing an expression of genuine happiness on their faces.
I watch safely from the car for a few moments, allowing my father some time alone. I don't enjoy large crowds and am building up my courage to exit the car, when one of the younger men with long dark hair turns his gaze my way. His dark eyes are warm and his smile wide. He is the first man's son. I am sure of it.
My father turns towards me and others follow mimicking his movement. Time to face the music. I exhale deeply before opening my car door. My father is there, luckily, wrapping his arm around my shoulders. His touch instantly calms me, and for some reason, this group of people don't bother me as much as usual. I feel accepted. Loved. And I don't even know them.
"Everyone, this is Bella. Bella, this is your family."
My mouth drops and he laughs.
"Well, not all close family, but family nonetheless," the first man who had greeted my father steps forward.
"It is so nice to finally meet you, Bella. Charlie has been sending me photos ever since you were born. I almost feel like I know you!"
The man is almost my father's height and their resemblance is truly uncanny.
"Bella, meet your Uncle Billy, my younger brother."
Before I can truly process my father's words, I am swooped into a tight hug. Feeling slightly overwhelmed, I just pat his back awkwardly in return. Why hadn't my father ever told me I had this huge family? When Billy pulls back there are tears in his eyes.
"Dad, you're scaring her," a deep voice rumbles from my left.
The younger man who had met my gaze when I was in the car, punches his father lightly on the shoulder. Billy reluctantly lets me go and wipes the tears from his eyes roughly. I stand still, unsure of what I should do.
"I'm Jake. Nice to meet you, Cuz! Welcome home!" Jake says breaking the silence. Shaking my hand firmly.
"Let's get you guys inside. Lunch is supposed to be served in about 15 minutes and then you can meet everyone properly instead of out here with everyone smothering you. Quil, Embry, help Charlie out with the suitcases," Billy orders, seemingly back to his usual self.
Leading the way to the largest of the four houses, he wraps his arm around my father's shoulder and pulls him with him while the rest scatter to finish up before lunch. I release a deep exhale, following a few steps behind alone.
"Hi! I'm Leah," a sweet girl about my age catches up to me and reaches out to greet me.
"Bella. Nice to meet you." I answer walking slowly towards the large house.
Leah walks beside me, her curious eyes taking me in. I notice how she's bursting with questions, but seems to be holding them in for now, for which I am grateful for.
"I'm Billy's daughter. Jake's little sister," she explains, walking a little bit in front of me to pick up a basket that has been left on the ground.
"We're seven in total. My Dad, Mom- whom you will meet inside, Jake, Quil, Embry, Seth and me," she blurts.
My eyes widen. Seven close family members I know nothing about. Why has my father hidden this from me?
"That's a big family!" I blurt out. Leah laughs sweetly.
"Well, not around here, really. It's pretty common to have big families in this Pack."
We have just arrived at the door.
"Pack?" I ask, just as a whirlwind of blond hair exits the front door and pulls me in yet another unexpected and tight hug. Again my hands fall to my sides as I allow a complete stranger to hug me.
"Oh my God, you have no idea how happy I am that you and Charlie are home! Uncle Billy, Nanna, Pop and Mom, talk about you all the time!" The stranger exclaims.
I pull back carefully, distancing myself, but trying not to hurt the girl's feelings.
The girl… or woman, she looks slightly older than I am, is drop-dead gorgeous. Thick blond hair hangs in waves around her doll-like face. Her wide eyes are sapphire blue, surrounded by perfect, long eyelashes. I blink, suddenly feeling my old insecure teenage self, arise to the surface. Pushing my shoulders back, I force myself to keep my head held high as I remind myself that I am not that girl anymore.
"Rose, how about we get Bella inside. I think she might be a little overwhelmed. There are a lot of new faces," Leah says inching us towards the door.
"Yeah, but we're all family. Charlie must have showed her tons of pictures of us. We've all sure seen many of her." The girl, Rose, states. I laugh dryly at her comment.
"Ah… Not exactly. I had no idea my father had any living family left," I say, unable to hide my annoyance.
Rose and Leah share mirroring looks of shock and surprise on their faces.
"So, lead the way, and please feel free to fill me in." I say, squaring my shoulders as I stepped through the door.
Rose and Leah quickly follow. Each flanking my sides, as they lead me past even more unfamiliar faces. Their stances are protective and they both calmly help by making introductions. The names are a blur, but I do my best to smile and repeat their names as I greet them.
The house is charming. The interior beautifully decorated in a rustic style with specialized woodwork scattered around. It looked like something out of a magazine. Noises of happy chatter and laughter fill the house. Nearby, I can hear a sports commentator blaring out of a TV. We step into a large dining area, with the largest table I'd ever seen packed with delicious food. An elderly woman with long grey hair has her hands cupping my father's face. His proud stance has crumbled as he hunches down to her level. His forehead touches the woman's and their eyes are closed. I can see a large arm wrapped around both my father and the woman, but can't see the man's face. I stop, these people are important. Rose and Leah are standing so close that I can feel their arms touch mine. In a strange way, their casual touch gives me strength, a surge of energy I've never felt before.
"That's your Nanna," Rose whispers.
"Your grandmother, Beth Swan," Leah explains further. My eyes are drawn to the old woman. She feels familiar somehow.
"Nanna," Rose says, breaking the spell that has held my father to his mother.
As their heads separate, an older man comes into view. I recognize him instantly. My hand reaching for the pendant around my neck. Suddenly I remember why the elderly woman looked so familiar. I met them both. They'd come to my mother's funeral. The day was a complete blur, but I could remember, with utmost certainty, that they had been there.
"Bella," Nanna smiles, tears flowing down her cheeks.
She steps forward, her hands cupping my cheeks in the same manner she had done to my father. Her sparkling grey-blue eyes studies every inch of my face. She tips my head down, placing a soft kiss on the top of my head.
"You have become a beautiful woman, my dear. Welcome home," she says softly, her hands lightly caressing my cheeks.
A lump grows in my throat and I struggle to keep my tears at bay. I can feel how important this moment is even if I don't truly understand it. Nanna releases my cheeks, but places her soft hand in mine, giving it a tight squeeze before releasing me.
The elderly man stands next to my father, his arm wrapped around his waist. He is quite a bit shorter, but he stands proud.
"I know you," I whisper, trying to brush away the layers of a particular memory. His smile widens and he nods.
"I'm glad," he answers shortly.
My hand is still wrapped around my pendant.
"It didn't keep the bad dreams away," I say.
Our short conversation out on the rocks behind our old house in Arizona becoming clearer and clearer. The man is quiet for a moment, before taking a step forwards, engulfing my free hand with both of his.
"But it kept you safe and lead you back to us. And if that became its single purpose, then I am grateful."
His dark, chocolate brown eyes are warm as they hold mine. Eyes just like my father's and just like mine.
"Hi, Pop," I greet softly. He laughs shortly in response.
"Hello, Baby-Bel," he replies. The nickname I've only heard once before.
"I'm not a cheese," I respond, using the same words that I had that day of our short conversation so many years ago. We share a smile, both of us remembering one of my only good memories from that horrible day.
"Well, I'm starving! Nanna! Can we eat, please?!" I jump a little at the rumbling voice that I now associate with Jake.
Everyone moves towards the large table in perfectly coordinated chaos. Nanna and Pop sit between me and my father. They are both asking questions about the move and ride here. Nanna asks me several questions about my old job as a nurse in Mesa.
"The rest of the Pack will be here later this evening for a bonfire and I will introduce you to Alice. She works as a nurse at Forks General. She's a sweet girl and will be thrilled to show you around."
There was that word again: Pack…. All I can think about is "a pack of wolves". My own wolf has been silent through all of this. I've had enough to deal with as a human, and she has happily taken a backseat to everything that has been going on. Now, as I look around the table, I allow my wolf's sense of smell to rise. I've never met another shifter, other than my father. I take a deep whiff and freeze. So many different scents… all unique and individual. All wolf. All shifters.
My wolf bursts to life within me, her tail wagging with excitement and curiosity. The fork in my hand clatters against my plate. The noise of happy chatter luckily masks the sound. But my father turns towards me, noticing that something is wrong. I stand up quickly, my chair screeching against the floor.
"I just need a minute," I say, sending a shaky smile towards Nanna and Pop. Completely ignoring my father.
I run out the door, breathing the fresh air deeply into my lungs. I need to remove myself from the intense smells of wolf. As I stand on the porch, I notice a beautiful Weeping Willow with leaves dancing over a large pond nearby. Desperately needing some peace of mind, I run towards it. I long to feel the calm wisdom old trees can give. Closing in, I slow down my pace, opening my mind to greet the tree as I approach. My eyes close in concentration, and I can feel the giddiness of the earth beneath my feet. A light breeze caresses my face. Every worry falls away, and I am at peace. My eyes are still closed when I reach forwards, touching the rough bark with my fingers. The tree accepts me quickly, and I can feel every branch and a deep root welcome me. This tree has seen many, many things. I move close, my mouth touching the bark as I whisper: "Thank you."
A branch cracks behind me. My sense of smell revealing who it is. I stay where I am, keeping my back to him.
"Charlie," I say, acknowledging his presence.
He waits for me to turn. After a while, I do, keeping one hand on the bark, the tree's calm keeping my anger and hurt at bay.
"I'm sorry, Bells," he says. His head bent in shame and he kicks the dirt in front of him like a young boy.
I glance towards the large houses and the beautiful landscape surrounding us.
"I just don't understand why you never told me," I say, his wince confirming that he knows I have the right to be angry.
"I have this huge family that I know nothing about, who apparently all know about me."
"I did what I thought was best for you."
Anger blazes inside of me. He continues before I have a chance to say anything.
"I never thought we'd come back here, Bella. Your mother and I left because we weren't accepted here. A witch and a wolf? It was unheard of."
My parents had told me the story of how they'd met before, but I knew there were many things left untold. My mother had loved telling stories and would always tell the most engaging tales. Some of my fondest memories were of her telling me bedtime stories and the story of a young witch who fell madly in love with a handsome wolf, was one of my absolute favorites. It was a tale of love conquering all where the Witch and the Wolf had been forced to move away from their families so that they could be together. Now, facing this reality, my mother's story didn't make sense, everyone I'd met here had shown acceptance and love.
"We longed for a normal life, away from all this," he pauses. "We wanted you to have as normal of a life as possible, without judgement or discrimination."
The anger within me flares again.
"I was never normal, Dad!" I exclaim, old scars scratching the surface.
I take a deep breath, biting my lip. My wolf begins to whimper as it is assaulted with the strong emotions that are burning within me. My teenage years had been extremely tough and I'd felt so alone.
"So many times I've wished-," I pause, unable to continue.
"They're all shifters. They're all like me."
A few tears fall down my cheeks, and I quickly wipe them away. My father stays silent.
"Why now?" I demand.
"What changed? Nanna and Pop were at Mom's funeral. Why didn't we come then?"
He stays silent for a while, his eyes downcast, shoulders slumped forwards. I draw a soothing breath, calming myself. He looks away for a moment before clearing his throat.
"Pop's sick," he admits, fighting to control the tears brimming in his eyes.
I still, allowing his words sink in. My father is in pain. I replay my meeting with Pop in my mind, searching for symptoms. Perspiration on his brow, a slight tinge of yellow on his skin. Unable to stay angry at my father when he looks so broken, I step forward grabbing his hand.
"What's his diagnosis?" I ask calmly.
"Advanced pancreatic cancer," he answers, his voice turning numb. I try to keep my face neutral. If it is advanced, the cancer will have already spread to other organs. That meant it was only a matter of time before-.
"I'll help," I say assuredly.
"I'll do whatever I can."
His hold tightens around my hand as he pulls me into a hug. His warm scent of coffee and cigars is calming and familiar.
"It was time, Bella. It was time for you-… For both of us to come home. To be a part of this family, of this Pack. You belong here, and it was wrong of me to never give you the chance to know them," he whispers.
"Your mother and I truly thought we were doing the best thing for you by keeping you away and after she died, I felt like I had to stay true to that."
I tighten my arms around him in silent forgiveness.
"I love you, Dad," I say stepping back.
"But don't ever hold something back from me like this. I deserve the truth."
"Let's go back inside before all the food is gone. Did you see the portion on Jake's plate?" I say with a smile, trying to lighten the mood.