A/n - the only warning I will be making - this story is marked mature for a reason. It is descriptive and gritty, and rated M for graphic violence, blood rituatials and sexual encounters. There will be one undescriptive reference to domenstic abuse, but nothing explicit. Please be mindful when reading.
This story is split in three parts; Rosewood & Emerald, the Prequels/Outtakes, and Redwood & Elm. All are gathered here. They are meant to be read in the order they were posted.
Rosewood & Emerald
The weariness sits on Bella's shoulders like a cloak. She is torn between the need for a long shower, or perhaps a bath, and the sweet release of one or two glasses of wine. Or three. Standing in the hotel lobby, the latter wins out. With her broom safely stored upstairs along with the small rucksack which holds the full extent of her earthly belongings, she tells herself she can have a shower later. Right now, she just wants wine.
She turns on her heel, walking into the bar, the dim lighting and velvety cushions setting the scene - music coming out of hidden speakers, dark shades and live candles. It is predictable. The bartender with his bowtie and waistcoat even more so.
"Good evening, ma'am," he greets, and his name tag says Colin.
"Large Shiraz, please," she says, and Colin has the good graces not to mention how she looks positively out of place in her torn jeans and oversized shirt buttoned wrong.
"Of course, do you have a seat?" Blue eyes watch her with disinterested politeness, and she wonders how many times a night he asks that question.
She motions for a small table in the corner, hidden from the entrance, and he nods, smiling as he puts the order through.
"Would you like it billed to your room?"
"Please, room three-twelve."
"I'll bring it over to you, ma'am, have a seat."
She thanks him and walks over to the small table she pointed to, sitting down with her back against the wall. The large armchair is comfortable, large enough for her to disappear into, and her weary bones appreciate the simple comfort. The bar is almost empty, business people in suits with their ties undone dotting the place, but it's getting late, just after ten, and most people who have come for business are either away or just at the tail-end of their discussions. A Tuesday night isn't exactly happy-hour.
Humans, she thinks with a shake of her head. Such careless creatures, utterly lacking any ability to see past their own noses. Despite it, she is very pleased with Colin, and watches with greedy eyes as he places a napkin, then a large, bulbous glass of red wine on her table. She thanks him, her fingers already on the stem as she gives it a swirl, her nose stuck into the glass.
Colin retreats and she is left alone, her body melting into the seat as the wine slowly begins making its way through her system. Cities have their perks, of course they do, but as she is so rarely in them she still feels itchy. Unsettled. Too much noise, too many humans, too many rules. Yet, she has been called to Chicago on Coven business, and she cannot say no. The Coven says she is to be somewhere, she goes. That is her life. It matters little that she was last in Zimbabwe, or two days prior to that in Indonesia. Her broom takes her where she needs to be.
She has nearly finished her wine when something catches her eye. A man, a guest, having just walked in, crisp coat in dark navy, polished shoes, collar turned up against the rain. He holds a large umbrella, pale fingers wrapped loosely around the handle.
The reaction is instinctual. The moment she sees the back of his head she knows. There is only one person on the whole planet that has that exact shade of dark, bronze hair, a perfect riot on his head, somehow defying gravity. She should know. Her fingers have fisted that hair more than once.
She wants to run.
She wants to hide.
She wants to gravitate toward him and inhale his cologne, push her breasts up against his chest and preen like a cat wanting its ears scratched.
She is unsure whether to be furious or relieved, seeing him here. She doesn't know how it keeps happening. She is still certain he is following her, but that is impossible. Chance is cruel, and the powers to be have it out for her, because the planet is simply not big enough to avoid him. Four times, they have found themselves in the same place since that fateful time in St. Kitts, and every time is predictable.
She wants to rage, yet her stomach is coiling in excitement, her body betraying her. She curses under her breath and begins desperately plotting an escape route, but there is only one way out of the bar, and although he has not seen her yet, if she got up she would have to sneak behind his back to get out. And the only thing worse than being seen by him is being seen by him attempting to run away.
She still has a few seconds. There is still the slim possibility that he will not see her, and she can slink away to her room and have that long shower. But just as she knows that humans are ignorant, she knows that there his no way Edward Masen would be in her vicinity and not notice.
She shifts in her chair, as if blending in, and then it happens. He freezes, his fingers tightening around his umbrella, and he turns his head, his eyes locking on hers. Green, blazing eyes meet her brown, and she is rooted in place. Her stomach in tatters, her chest constricted. His slow, lazy smirk, arrogant and crooked, makes her blaze, and she wants to throw something at him. Only the surprise in his eyes stops her.
Maybe he won't come over, she thinks, her face naturally forming a scowl, like it always does in his presence. But his smirk turns into full-blown grin and she knows she is doomed.
The arrogant sod receives some form of spirit from the bartender, clear amber with ice, and she hates herself for knowing what it is. Single-grain whisky. Always. He is predictable, and he keeps favourites. How she became a favourite of his she rightfully cannot say. She's done almost everything in her power to get out of his good graces.
He saunters over to her, his steps slow, measured, and only seems amused when Bella's eyes dart around in panic for an escape route. Why did I pick a corner, damn it.
"Fancy seeing you here, Isabella. If I didn't know better I would be tempted to believe you are stalking me."
His velvet voice cascades over her, and she openly glares at him, for being here, for the sound of his voice, and most of all for the way his voice makes her insides quiver.
"I was here first. Remember?" She infuses as much anger into her voice as she can, and still it is not enough. His eyes dance, and the fucker just looks so pleased with himself she wants to slap him.
"First is relative. I've been staying at this hotel near a week now." He places his drink down on the table, carefully resting his umbrella against the wall.
"Table's occupied," she tuts. "Find another seat."
"Oh, but I don't think I will. I think you want me here."
He shrugs out of his coat, and she has to bite her tongue to stop her eyes travelling down his chest, the fitted shirt showing the planes of his body, and she develops a sudden hatred for cotton.
He sits down opposite her, folding his long legs under the table, his hands resting on the table-top. His signet-ring taps against the side of his glass, the branded Volturi crest tapping over and over. The only sign he's nervous. She knows, because she cannot not know. Because she knows this man, regrettably.
"Excuse me, Colin?" without leaving his seat, he twists, calling over to the bar. "Could the lady please have another of the same?"
Colin nods, and Bella sneers.
"You're being rude. At least go up to the bar like you have manners."
"And give you time to escape? Never."
"I don't want another drink."
"You don't have to drink it if you don't want to."
"Well I won't."
"Okay," she echoes, and realising she's been leaning forward over the table promptly forces herself back again. Traitor, she thinks at her body. As if somehow removed from herself.
They sit in silence until Colin comes over, placing the second glass in front of her just as neatly as he did the first. He is about to leave when she takes the first and downs what's left, making some sort of unflattering gurgling noise as she stops him, giving the confused man her empty glass.
And still he thanks her. And she accused Edward of being rude.
"So," Edward starts, and in desperation she reaches for the second glass, her fingers wrapping around the stem. Anything not to look into his eyes. "What brings a Witch of the Coven to Chicago?"
"Sorceress," she mumbles, unable to stop herself, screwing her eyes shut almost instantly. "I passed the trials. Two months ago." She doesn't know why she offers the information. Can't stop herself. And still she wants him to know. Remembers vividly that the first person she wanted to tell when she passed the trial was Edward. Despite being who knows where.
"That's amazing news, Bella. Well done." Something in his voice forces her to look up, and with his eyes trained on her he's lost that gloating edge. His praise makes her feel warm all over. But she can't hold his eye. It's too much, far too intimate, and she brings the glass to her lips, letting the spicy shiraz momentarily distract her from the man looking at her like he would spin her around if only she'd allow it.
He clears his throat, and the smirk is back, green eyes glinting.
"My question still stands. Chicago?"
"I have my orders," she shrugs. She places her glass down, steeling herself as she looks at him. "I was told to come, so I did."
"Some natural disaster I don't know about?"
"I don't just go around cleaning up disasters, you know," she huffs. "Just because there's no outward sign doesn't mean that the humans haven't messed up, doesn't mean that your lot haven't done something stupid. Again."
"My lot?" he smirks, that infuriating smirk that makes her want to shout at him or lick him. Maybe both. "Well, doesn't that just instill confidence."
"Yes, your lot." By lot she means Wizards. Male magic wielders. "Prancing about with your ancient rituals, inflating your egos and pretending you know all there is to know."
"When it comes to pure magic, we do." His eyes glint, and this discussion is familiar. It happens every time they meet. Every time a member of the Coven meets someone from the Volturi.
"The Volturi wouldn't know magic if it slapped them in the face," Bella snorts, and she calms from the repetitive banter, the ribbing second nature to her.
"And the Coven floats about singing to the moon about world-peace, yes?"
"We know subtlety. And harmony."
"And we power - and insight."
They are both leaning over the table, their faces only a few feet apart. Something sparks in the space around them, the air heavy, like that before a storm.
Too much magic. Too much. We shouldn't be around each other.
It happens every time. Their magic straining and pulsating, knowing there is an opposite force nearby. There is a reason why couplings between witches and wizards are strictly forbidden.
Edward recovers first - he always does. He leans back, tilting his head to the side as he observes her.
"You still didn't answer my question."
"I told you. Orders."
He doesn't look like he believes her, but decides to drop it.
"This is where you ask me why I'm here."
"And this is where I ignore you."
"I'm tracking an unknown magic pattern," he offers, as if she'd asked. He lifts his glass to his lips, and Bella struggles to keep her body under control when the condensation from his glass slips onto his fingers, dripping down the underside of his hand, disappearing under his cuff. "First South America, then Asia, Europe. Now here, in Chicago. My superiors even considered reaching out to the Coven, to warn you, then we realised you never did tell us where your headquarters is."
"Because we have no interest in being bothered by wayward wizards," Bella grouches, unable to fully dismiss him. She has sworn to never divulge the location of the Coven headquarters, yet she has always pushed for a way to contact the Volturi. She doesn't like this separation. They are idiots, the wizards, but she doesn't like not knowing what they are up to.
"It's only fair, you know where to find us."
"Only because we couldn't not. A medieval castle, really?"
"We have traditions, nothing wrong with that." He shrugs, but even he looks mildly uncertain. "One of us needs to know where to find the other."
"We only know because our ancestors were enslaved in that castle - as your conduits."
His eyes flash, and Bella realises she finds his anger the most unattractive part of him. This sneer.
"That was nine-hundred years ago."
"And yet you still sit on your thrones, unwilling to admit that the very floor you stand on was drenched in the blood of witches - at your hands."
He looks like he wants to argue back, but he contains himself, simply raising his eyebrows in defiance.
"I did not come here to argue with you, Isabella."
"Well no one's stopping you - you can leave whenever you wish."
He leans forward, his jaw tight, his brows furrowed.
"I do not owe you an apology for something my kind did hundreds of years ago. They are all dead. It is in the past. We all made mistakes."
"Yet the Volturi owe the Coven an apology - owe the descendants of all those women reparation."
"We have apologised. Many times over."
"I have yet to hear one that sounds sincere."
Their magic is crackling between them again. The ice in Edward's glass is rattling against the sides, the table vibrating as it stands, somehow bearing the brunt of their anger.
Yet he surprises her, as he always does.
He leans closer, leaning over the table, his eyes losing that sharp edge, his lips pressed together.
"You know how I feel about it. I have told you - in great detail. And you know I do not associate myself with any of it. I could apologise for the faults of my predecessors until I was blue in the face, begging at your feet and you would still refuse to believe my sincerity. I am more than my caste."
He leans back, his glass to his lips. His hands are shaking.
Shame floods her, just for that look. She doesn't know what she wants anymore. Only this man has the ability to twist her around into a frazzled knot and he doesn't even seem aware that he does it.
She almost apologies. Then doesn't. She sips her wine.
"H-how have you been? Other than—work?" she finally splutters, hating how forced her voice sounds, yet it is better than the oppressing silence.
He shrugs, glass down on the table, leaving a rim of condensation on the wooden top. Undoing his cufflinks, he lets them down on the table, methodically folding his sleeves up his arms. Bella stares as if transfixed at the muscles moving in his forearms, tendons pullings under skin, revealing the winding tattoo that sneaks out from under his sleeve of his right arm. The mark that brands him as a Wizard. It has grown since she last saw him. He is getting stronger.
"There is not much to say. You know very little holds my interest." His eyes snap up to hers again, and just like that, the heady tension is back. She struggles to swallow.
"It has been two years. You must have something to say." She tries and fails to keep her voice level.
"My good friend got married. I bought an apartment in New York. But I doubt that is what you want to know."
"I didn't ask for anything specific."
"Yet you did, you just don't know it."
Now it is time for her to shake, because she hates this. Loves this. Equally detest as she does crave the feeling of being so strung out by him. How everything about him makes her want to rattle out of her skin.
"Don't do that," she shakes her head, suddenly vulnerable.
"That! This—this thing you do. Looking at me like that."
His smirk returns.
"Like you want to bend me over the table."
"Who says I don't?"
She huffs, but she can't stop the heat that rises to her face.
"I would if I believed you."
"That you're not interested. It took days before the nail-marks disappeared from my back last time."
"It was just sex."
"It was amazing sex."
"It was a mistake. One of many."
"Sure it was."
They are staring at each other again. Alcohol forgotten on the table. The world falling away. Bella's spine is tingling, the muscles in her abdomen clenching painfully, phantom sensations of what he can do to her if only she lets him.
"How long are you staying?"
"Just the night." Her throat feels tight.
"That so?" he murmurs, eyes hooded. "Would be a shame to waste it."
Her heart is in her throat, her body screaming at her to do one thing and her mind another. She spent months berating herself after the last time. Doesn't matter that every single time they've run into one another she has failed. This time was meant to be different.
"No." She says, not sure what she's saying no to. Yet, Edward simply smirks, uncurling himself from his seat. His sudden distance throws her, and the words get stuck in her throat when she is left helplessly watching as he picks up the cufflinks, dropping them in a pocket, throwing his coat over his arm and taking his umbrella.
"Where are you going?" She sits up in her seat, not used to this - this is where he normally wears her down, traps her with his looks and his touches - but this?
"To bed," he shrugs. "It is getting late." He doesn't comment on her perfect impersonation of a gulping fish. He turns, the umbrella used in place of a walking stick, but stops, just a few steps from where she is still sitting. "I'm staying in room five-o-four. I won't be going to bed for a while yet. Goodnight, Isabella."
And just like that, the bastard walks off, leaving her strung tighter than a coil, hot and flustered.
Insufferable man! She thinks, her body rigid in her seat, as if trying to cope with this turn of events. He had to go and turn things about, because he is an idiot, and because regretfully, he knows Bella too.
She groans, too loudly, and the bartender definitely notices. She buries her face in her hands, hating Edward, hating everything he stands for, and more than anything hating her damn self.
She should head up to the third floor, to her own room, have that long shower, and do her best to forget the look of Edward's smirk. She should go to sleep - in her own room - and prepare for the summon she has at nine a.m. tomorrow.
But she doesn't want to.
It is forbidden. Forbidden for a reason. Not only is he an idiot and a know-it-all, but he is also a Volturi wizard. It doesn't matter that Saint Kitts happened. It doesn't matter that she spends her life somehow chasing him, none of it matters. It is forbidden. Magic itself ensuring it by refusing to let children be born in a witch wizard coupling. Too dangerous, too violent, and too risky.
She is only causing herself pain. Going after that which she cannot have. He is a drug, and she is powerless to resist. Yet she should. Should forget all about Edward Masen, forget his smiles, his smirks, his fingers and body. She thought she had. For a whole year she has barely thought about him, with the exception of when she passed her trial. She was doing so well, and now with one look he has ruined it all.
She sits, stewing in her own thoughts, and pretends to drink her wine. It tastes bitter on her tongue. Just like she feels. The knowledge that he is here, five floors above her, the spider waiting for her to willingly get caught in his net, pisses her off, makes her want to rail and scream and fall into him, all to have his hands on her again.
It's just the spell, she thinks desperately. Just the spell. The fallout from St. Kitts. She doesn't know if she tells herself this in the hopes of calming herself down, or by way of giving herself permission. She is stronger than her magic. She has a choice. She must do.
But she is powerless. When it comes to Edward, she is weak.
She stands, shaking in place.
I need to get out of here.
Her boots shuffle over the hardwood floor, and she walks out of the bar in a haze, her foot tapping impatiently as she waits for the lift. When it finally arrives, her keycard feels heavy in her back-pocket, knowing which button she should press. She doesn't look at the button as she does, the doors closing, the feeling in her stomach as she is dragged upwards not helping.
She gets out, rounds the corner and there she is, in front of the hotel door, her eyes screwed shut. She feels desperate. She feels lonely. She feels like everything she ever wanted is there if she would just reach for it.
She bites down on her lip so hard it hurts, her hands clenched into fists at her sides.
Then she knocks.
Just to tell him never again, she mentally thinks.
The door opens, and there he is, green eyes boring into hers.
"W-we need to stop this," she forces out, unmoving on the other side of the threshold. "It's not right."
His eyes gleam.
"Never again. W-what happened before, it—it can't happen again."
"That's what you said last time." His words wash over her, and for a moment, she doesn't know who she is pretending for. Like she came here for any other reason than to give in.
She unclenches her fists and takes a step into him, rising on the balls of her feet to reach his mouth, pressing her open lips to his warm mouth. Like a switch has gone off his hands are on her waist, his mouth gasping into hers, his lips just as soft as she remembers, his body hard against hers. She pulls at his shoulders, wanting, needing closer, and he effortlessly helps her up, her legs wrapping around his waist, his strong arms holding her up, kneading her ass through her soft jeans, the door slamming closed behind them.
Her hands are in his hair, pulling at the ends, his hiss egging her on when she pulls too hard.
They break apart, hooded and desperate eyes connected in the space between their breaths.
"Tell me you want this," he breathes, something rattling behind them.
"I want this," she replies, pulling his head back, reaching for his neck with her lips, short nails digging into his shoulders.
"Tell me to fuck you."
There is no better sound. She realises, somewhere, that the noise of him practically growling, reacting to her words, when she allows them this is just that. When she admits just how lost she is without his touch. Around them, something rattles off its perch and falls to the floor.
They are moving, Bella's mouth on his skin, his one hand finding skin on her waist, and soon she is thrown down on a bed, his body coiled and ready to follow her. Before he has time she pulls at her shirt, pulling it over her head, throwing it somewhere to side. She is left, in her bra and jeans, exposed for him, his eyes hungry as they rove over her skin.
"Off," she demands, and he complies, his fingers pulling at buttons, breaking some in the process, but as soon as his chest is bare she is sitting up, her nails dragging down his muscles, her body remembering just how he feels under her touch, helping him push the fabric off his shoulders.
She only stops, for a moment, when her left hand traces his wizard's mark, starting below his elbow, the dark markings reaching up, up toward his shoulder, stark against his pale skin, reaching toward the middle of his chest, blooming out from the mark over his heart, the mark he was born with. Just for a moment, she stills, up on her knees on the bed, her lips soft as she gently presses her mouth against the place that marks him as magic.
His fingers snake around the back of her head, dragging across her scalp, so soft it nearly breaks her.
"Bella…" he whispers, and she can't take it.
"Off." She urges again, her frustration, her fury back, not allowing herself this. Not allowing herself to be soft. She tugs at his belt, and he understands. He always does. They shed the remainder of their clothes in a desperate stumble, Bella's jeans pulled off her legs, Edward's underwear yanked down his thighs. They pull at one another, too rough, too harsh, and she gasps, half in pleasure, half in pain when rough fingers grabs her sex, her every nerve ending too sensitive. His fingers are inside her, his mouth on hers, her nails in his back, her heels pushing at him to be impossibly closer. His cock is impossibly hard in her hand, the skin gliding over the hard member, and his moans undo her, forcing her closer and closer to that never-ending release.
She is flipped over, her hair pulled back as he roughly, too roughly, too softly, pushes her on all fours, manipulating and forcing her body just so, opening her up to him, her dripping sex his, and his alone, to take. He pounds into her, in one smooth stroke, and the wooden headboard cracks under Bella's magic, leaking from her, unable to stop. It shakes the room, pulling down pictures, rattling curtains, yet Bella cannot hear a single noise that isn't Edward's guttural moan as he forces himself over and over into her body, moulding her soft flesh to accommodate him, taking that which she can only give in body.
She is nearly sobbing with it, the intensity, the waves of pleasure as they bounce off her skin. When he reaches around her hip, his fingers knowing exactly how to touch her to come undone, knowing that he is still inside of her, she nearly screams with it.
Again and again, she falls off the cliff, the room and the bed taking the brunt of their pleasure, and only when he knows she cannot stand it anymore does he flip her over again, face to face, hard inside her as he grounds himself impossible close. When he comes, his mouth is on hers, and a single tear falls down her cheek.
Because he always does this. He always comes facing her. Their hearts pressed together as close as can be.
But her mind is too far gone, and he is not done with her, and they only have one night, and she refuses to waste it.
~ Rosewood & Emerald ~
She groans, every part of her body aching. Her thighs, her stomach, her shoulders from the contorted positions she was forced into during the night. The apex of her thighs is sore, skin not used to the amount of friction, and she opens her eyes, the weight of Edward's arm heavy across her middle.
She wants to sigh. She wants to cry. She wants to slap him over the head for having ended up here again. But in the early morning light, his long lashes touching the tops of his cheeks, his mouth slightly parted as he slumbers, she cannot. Because she knows in her gut that the moment she leaves his embrace she will feel empty again.
She brought this on herself. Back in St. Kitts. She tied them together, intrinsically, knowing the repercussions. And she did it anyway. She has no one but herself to blame. She slowly turns in his embrace, pleading with the universe for him to keep sleeping, and very gently ghosts her fingertips over his cheekbone. He twitches, but does not wake. His rumbled hair is truly wild, the sheet pulled up over their hips leaving his chest bare.
She drags her eyes away, cringing at the destruction around them. Their magic is not compatible. Too violent. It looks like they've taken the space and purposefully ripped it to shreds - even the wallpaper beginning to peel away from the corners in sheer defiance.
And then she sees it. The bedside clock, having landed upside down some feet away.
"Shit." Eight fifty two. She will be late.
Perhaps it is better this way.
She gently grabs his arm, shimmying from underneath it, her breath hitching when he momentarily tenses in his sleep, as if he knows she's leaving. She is still, only for a moment, reassuring herself that he is still asleep, and finally escapes his clutch, her body instantly cold. She mutters angrily under her breath as she tries to shove on the remnants of her clothes, having to scrounge around the floor like a fugitive to find what she needs.
Only when she is dressed, her hair a mess, her skin covered in his kisses and sex, does she dare one last look at him, still asleep, none the wiser.
"I'm sorry, Edward," she whispers into the room, then sneaks away, hating herself every second.
As soon as the hotel door is closed behind her the sob escapes her throat and she has to bite down on her knuckle to stop from outright wailing. Part of her soul is back in that room, and for some forgotten reason she has to leave it there.
I am a Sorceress of the Coven, she thinks, stealing her heart in iron bindings, opening her eyes, glaring at the wall in front of her. And I am late.
She moves quickly then. She can deal with her self-loathing later. Much later. When she has taken her broom and disappeared to the other side of the world, deep into a jungle somewhere, far away from people, from noise, far away from the Wizard she cannot forget.
She makes it to her room, turning the shower up to its hottest setting to scorch Edward off her skin. Five minutes later she is dressed, wet hair piled onto her head in a messy bun, her small rucksack on her back, her clothes from the day prior left on the floor. She does not want them.
She grabs her broom, the wood pulsating under her touch, familiar, perfect, an extension of herself. It calms her, like nothing else, and with a snap of her fingers it is floating in the air, ready to take her wherever she needs. Her hotel will be paid automatically to the Coven account.
She is about to open the window when the air leaves her lungs, and she stumbles. Her stomach has seized up, her chest suddenly constricted. She can't breathe.
But then it passes, the odd episode, no longer than few a seconds. She takes breath, gripping her broom tighter. There is a keening ache left, as if bruised, but she doesn't know what it is. Maybe Edward has woken up. Maybe he's finally reached the point of fury. She has to get over this. These physical reactions to Edward. She runs.
She opens the window, and sitting sideways she is off, one hand on the broom, the other balancing her, tendrils of her hair escaping her bun as she falls through the air, listening to the whine of the air as she pushes through it. The cold seeps into her skin, reminding her of her place on the wind, as part of it.
She flies upward, using the currents, her body pulling her where she needs to be, her broom interpreting it. Chicago is beautiful underneath her, not like the nature she is used to, yet still stark in its cool skyscrapers and glass reflections. Electrical masts pull toward the city, the web of industry and humans familiar to her yet somehow never enough.
She flies high above the din of it all, to the other side of town, lowering herself into the back-alley where she is meeting Matron. She looks at the time. She is ten minutes late. She curses. She hates being late.
Once her feet are on the ground she grabs her broom in her right hand, her rucksack light on her back, and she mentally prepares her speech about why she is late. Wine is as good excuse as any, which is none, but it's better than admitting to being sidetracked by a wizard. She rounds the corner, fully expecting the wrath she has brought on herself when she stumbles over something. Mind not fully caught up, it takes her a moment to realise she has stumbled over someone. Not something.
She stares down, her heart still, and then suddenly galloping away from her when she looks down at the vacant eyes of her sister. Angela. Brown eyes stare unseeingly into nothing, her hair lying in a wet puddle. Her fingers lay splayed out, reaching for her silvery broom, just out of her reach, the beechwood cracked right down the middle, splintering when Angela's magic disappeared from this world.
Everything seems to stop. Bella cannot wrap her head around it. Cannot understand how a fellow Sorceress is lying dead at her feet, not a mark on her. Yet she is dead. There is no denying it.
She knows it in her bones. She was killed by magic. Only magic would be strong enough to pull this woman from this earth. Debilitating terror settles over her, her broom gripped so tight her fingers hurt around it. With shaking shoulders she looks forward, around the corner, and she moans, shock and grief and horror bouncing around her skull, because Angela is not alone.
Laid out, in a distorted scattered row, her fellow Sorceresses lie, as if running away, broken beads of a necklace, her sisters, all dead. Irina. Then Kate. Then Tanya her Matron, Jessica next. All with that same expression. All vacant eyes, their brooms just out of reach, splintered beyond repair.
"No! No, no..." she chants, stumbling forward, falling to her knees at Tanya's side, grabbing her face, pale blue eyes dull. She cannot contain the scream. It bubbles from within her, from deep inside her chest. She has known these women since they were children. She has laughed with them, cried with them, succeeded and failed - and now, their lives are no more.
She crawls over to Jessica, her light brown eyes just as lifeless as the rest, but she is—different. Her face is hurt, blood trickling from her lip - she fought. She fought whatever monster killed them.
She screams, her hand out in front of her, pushing with all her magic at whatever dares disturb her grief, then she falls back, because it's Lauren - her sister - bloodied and unsure, barely standing up, her broom at her side.
"Lauren!" she screams, and she's up on her feet, grabbing the blonde by the shoulders, hugging her, barely containing their tremors. "What happened?" She forces her to look into her eyes, broom forgotten at Bella's side. "What happened?"
Lauren's eyes fill with tears, and she gasps, murmuring things that don't make sense, and Bella can only hug her, somehow try to tell her without words how relieved she is that someone is alive. That one of her sisters made it out.
"I'm sorry," Lauren chants, over and over, and Bella shushes her, grabbing her face in her hands.
"Stop, you're okay, you're alive. We need to—we need to call Esme, you hear me? Matron—Tanya she's—we need to call them, we need to get you cleaned up, okay?" Bella is rambling, but whatever she is saying is only making it worse. Lauren is sobbing, shaking her head, and Bella doesn't see it.
Doesn't see the long athame before the blade is buried in her stomach. Bella's breath leaves her and she stumbles back, staring without understanding as the blood begins to pool out of her stomach, the dark hilt somehow jutting out from her.
Her eyes find Lauren, tears dripping down her cheeks, and some part of Bella understands. It was Lauren. Lauren had killed them all.
"Lauren?" Bella asks, but her voice is gurgled, and she coughs up blood, her hand coming up to wipe at her lip, confused at the blood there.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I'm so sorry. You were meant to be on time, you were meant to arrive with the others—it was meant to be painless."
Bella can only blink, shock settled too deep, and she knows she is dying. She sees Lauren lift her hand, a light appearing on her palm, as she prepares the killing blow. Hit with the magic that will sever Bella's core, that will tear her insides apart and take her broom with her.
"Why?" she asks, her vision blurring from the lack of blood.
"There was no other way," she offers, her face pained.
Bella's last thought is wondering whether Edward, with part of her soul, will realise when she is no longer alive.
She closes her eyes, not willing to look her sister in the eye as she is killed, not willing her last moments to be of the woman that betrayed them all.
There is a cry, loud in the air, then loud crackling that sends Bella falling backward, her eyes open to the blue sky above.
"No!" there is scream, a man's scream, but Bella cannot keep her eyes open. She is choking, gurgling up blood, and suddenly there are hands on her, cradling her head, wet fingers frantically wiping at her face, the touch warm and frenzied.
She opens her eyes, only because she does not mind his as the last face she sees.
"Edward." He came, she thinks. Her lips turn upward, somehow thankful the universe gave her this. "It's okay…" she hears herself say, wanting to reach for his face, but her arm feels heavy.
"No, no - fight it, listen to me!"
"I'm sorry," she mumbles, more blood pouring out of her, and Edward seems to grow frantic. She has never seen this expression. Never seen panic on his face. She doesn't like it.
"Hold on, you need to hold on, I'll fix it okay?"
She feels herself slipping away, darkness pulling at her, but then there is magic, foreign and not her own, and she screams, light keeping her where she does not want to be.
She finds Edward's eyes, somehow understands that he is trying to fix her, but her body is rejecting it - it is the wrong type of magic, and she is already too far gone.
"Let me go," she mumbles, her body screaming at her, every moment she remains pure blinding pain, but Edward has that expression on his face, that furious, angry one, and her head lolls to the side, seeing Lauren's vacant gaze staring at her. "You killed her," she whispers, disappearing under the weight of it all. "You killed my sister."
"Bella." His hands are on her face again, forcing her to look at him. His green eyes are filled with tears. She doesn't understand why. "You're going into shock. You need to fight it - you need to stay with me. I'm going to move us. You won't like it."
She wants to say something, wants to reply, but it's lost on her. His grip on her is too tight, and then her body is being pulled into a million different pieces and they are teleporting and the remaining part of her consciousness wants to scream at him for daring to teleport a witch. She isn't made for it, the act alone can kill her—
And then they reappear and she screams, her breath gurgled and she is losing too much blood but Edward's eyes are there, their fury alone making her want to stick around only to be able to swear at him.
Bella is shaking, somehow managing not to get pulled under, but god it hurts it hurts it hurts—
She is on the floor, there is another face above her, someone that isn't Edward - his hair is blond and his eyes blue, and he looks just as frantic as Edward.
She looks down, the blade still sticking out of her, and she somehow understands that she is bleeding to death.
The blond man tries to reach for the hilt, hissing and shrieking when he touches it.
Bella screws her eyes shut, her teeth rattling from the overwhelming agony that seems to block out all other thought.
"It's cursed, I can't pull it out - this is black magic, it'll kill us if we try—"
"I don't care!" someone screams back. Edward. "Help her! Get—get Alice - she won't be affected like we will, just - fuck - do something!"
The pain pulls her under, her breath leaving her, and the last thing she hears is Edward's voice promising he'll get her back.