Matters of the Heart

C1: Vampire Dynamics

Standard Disclaimer: I don't own any of the recognizable characters

A/N: So, this one is going to be a bit different from my regular Twilight stories. It has floated in my head for a long time to do a harem story with Bella at the center and this is the result, so obviously there won't be any one pairing but rather Bella with all of the female Cullens, Victoria and Heidi. It'll get somewhat weird and will probably go pretty fast too. I just want you to be forewarned. Having said that, enjoy.

Bella's POV

I'm no stranger to being in the hospital, but having to be here for having survived a vampire attack and with that being thrown all across my old ballet studio was a bit much to comprehend right now.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. It all started for me when I moved to Forks to live with my father for my final year of high school, who never really wanted anything to do with me since I was nine, and thus was less than pleased he had to take me in for a year, since I was sure he would kick me out the day I would turn eighteen. In hindsight I suppose that didn't really matter, because of everything that was going to happen, but at the time it was something I needed to prepare for.

It all started when I met Edward in Biology on that first day. His behavior that day was more than enough to tip me off that he wasn't human, since he was so obvious about everything, and honestly it wasn't him that I was so enamored with, but more so with his sisters, both of them being absolutely gorgeous.

If I had know how many problems he would cause me in the months to follow I would've run for the hills immediately, or at least into Alice's arms, because after I had learned that they were the vampires I had always heard about in the stories Jacob's dad told around the campfire everything made so much sense to me. Now fast forward a couple of months, he had all but forced me into a relationship that I had never wanted, but I will admit that came with some good things as well.

First off I got a lot closer to both Alice and Rosalie, both of whom wasted no time in claiming me as their best friend, both of them in their own special ways. And of course there was Esme, who beside basically adopting me as her daughter also seemed to have more feelings for me, something I couldn't help but be both flattered and a little bit intimidated by.

I quickly noticed that Edward above all things was a very controlling person, while he claimed to be protective of me. In his case protective meant practically alienating me from everyone that I considered a friend and controlling my every action and sometimes even straight up deciding things that concerned me. Alice and Rosalie of course tried to help me whenever they could and had promised me that everything would be okay, but boy did I misinterpret that.

It happened a couple of days ago, when the family invited me for a baseball game they were going to play. The best part of that day was that I was basically snuggled up against Esme for most of the day and of course getting to watch Alice and Rosalie in those amazingly form fitting baseball outfits, at least until those three nomads showed up unannounced. The redhead seemed kind enough, giving me a sympathetic smile as the blonde man started to antagonize us.

That is what kind of leads me to where we are now. Short story is that the guy was a tracker and basically made me his new game, and of course Edward being Edward and him thinking that he had any say in my life, he sent me to Phoenix with Alice and Rosalie, who would keep me safe. They just hadn't counted on the fact that he would try and draw me out with saying that he held my mother hostage, like I would care, she didn't care for me after all. When he noticed that it wouldn't work, he kidnapped me in the one second the two beauties weren't paying attention.

After that scuffle he took me to my old ballet studio, where he bit me just before Edward and the others showed up, and while I was okay with being turned then and there, he sucked out the venom, injuring me even more than I already was, and that was the last I had seen of Edward, although Esme had promised me that there would be consequences for him when he came back.

Even now that I was in the hospital because of his own stupid actions by antagonizing a clearly unstable vampire, he hadn't bothered to show up, even though most of the family came to visit me at every possible opportunity.

Alice and Rosalie came by every day after school and Esme was here whenever she could, which was every day at this point. She had been a balm to my soul in these last couple of days, especially since both of my parents hadn't bothered to even check in with me.

Being as caught up as I was in my inner musings and how this all started, I barely noticed the majority of the Cullens entered my room. "Hey Bella. How are you feeling?" Esme asked as she took her regular seat next to me.

I smiled at her as I took her hand. "I am feeling a lot better Esme, thank you. I think that I'll be okay to leave the hospital in a couple of days."

"That's good to hear sweetie. We have also come with news if you're up for it." The matriarch said with a smile.

I nodded and smiled at her. "Of course I am. I can do with some good news while I'm just lying here being useless."

Both Alice and Rosalie smiled at that. "Even while you're in bed you are contributing something Bella. All we've talked about is you."

"Now I really want to know what you guys talked about." I said softly.

The three women smiled at me as Alice and Rosalie took a seat next to the bed as well. "We were going to tell you Bella. We've had a long conversation about Edwards actions towards you, and not just about what happened in Phoenix, but about everything he did to you beforehand. Carlisle of course didn't see any issue with how he acts since he is convinced you are Edward's mate, something we all dispute by the way. Esme has gone over his head and informed our Queens, who have requested the presence of the entire family in Volterra once you are cleared for travel." Alice said with a soft smile.

I smiled at that. "I think a little get away to Italy is exactly what I need after all of this, especially if it means that Edward will finally get his head pulled out of his ass."

They smiled at me. "That and a lot more is going to happen Bella. All of which we will tell you when you come home, because as you might have noticed, your father has been less than present in the last week, and I will not have anyone else put you through any amount of pain." Esme said softly.

I just nodded as I completely against my will drifted off, since the drugs they were using to keep my pain under control were very good at that.

Esme's POV

I couldn't help but smile as Bella slowly drifted asleep and after pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head I followed Alice and Rosalie out of the room, since visiting hours were over and we still had a lot to talk about.

From the moment I met Bella I felt something very special in her, something I had never felt in anyone else before, and with my own gift of seeing dynamic mating bonds, that was saying something.

In truth actual mating bonds were very rare in our world but there were a lot of dynamics between vampires that were there to consider. Familial bonds were very strong, and even more so between women in a Coven, but what I saw in Bella had baffled me from the moment she came into our lives. Her bonds with everyone but Edward and Carlisle were very strong, and to me, Alice and Rosalie I felt clear romantic feelings coming from her, and they were almost as powerful as a mating bond was in terms of the emotions it invoked.

"You okay Esme?" Rosalie asked once we were in the car.

I nodded at her. "Yes, I was just thinking about Bella. The things I see in her bonds and dynamic are an enigma that I want to solve. It's going to be very interesting when the things Alice has seen come to pass, even though it'll mean our family will be smaller for it."

Alice smiled at me. "It is their choice to stay in Volterra, Esme. Jasper isn't a high school student. He's a major and by letting him do what he does best, the Volturi will be better for it too. Emmett just wants more people to fight with and I've seen that he'll thrive in the Volturi. We in turn will also benefit from this because our ties with the Queens and the Guard will only become closer."

I nodded at her. "I know, but honestly I am still a bit worried about Edward's fate. I know the Queens will want to make an example of him and Carlisle, but I also know that Sulpicia has wanted Edward in the Guard for a long time. I am just worried what might happen if he gets in their ear too much."

"They won't let that happen Esme. Chelsea will make sure he stays loyal and of course Jasper is going to keep a very close eye on him, but I'll be honest and say that I've also seen a version where Edward does not survive at all, which honestly would be more favorable. When Sulpicia sees everything he is capable of, she might understand our reasoning of wanting to wait with turning Bella." Alice said with a smile.

"While it pains me to have anyone die, I know that Edward cannot be rehabilitated, and that he may become a problem in the future if left unchecked. That's not what worried me though. I'm worried about how Bella is going to react to Victoria being with us." I said softly.

"I was surprised you didn't mention it to her already. I would've thought that you wanted to be honest with her." Rosalie said with a soft smile as she turned onto the driveway.

I smiled at that. "I wanted to, but I could see that she was very tired. I'll tell her tonight when I go and see her again."

Rosalie nodded at me. "It would be best for her. She's been lied to enough by that idiot and I believe we agreed to never lie to her again."

I smiled and nodded at her. "I know, and I have no intention of lying to her, it was just not the right time, because I doubt she would've been able to process it at that moment. Perhaps tonight she will be a bit more coherent."

"Let's hope she will, because we really have a lot to tell her still, and the sooner she knows everything, the sooner she can decide on how she wants to proceed, although I suspect she will not mind how it'll develop as long as what we share in terms of friendship and family don't change, which personally I am going to make sure happens." Alice said with clear determination.

"I think we all will Alice, especially if Bella is as accepting to our dynamic mating bond as she has been to everything else so far. And if she doesn't, nothing will have to change to the relationship we have. When she's turned she will feel the truth of her feelings." Rosalie said as she parked the car in front of the garage, since we would need it later today.

I smiled and nodded at them. "Personally I think that Bella will continue to surprise us with her ability of accepting what we tell her, although I have to say that I am a little worried on how she is so willing to accept our word over everything that Edward has told her."

Alice smiled at that as we walked into the house. "I've seen that the Queens have invited Eleazar to Volterra and that it coincides with our visit. I think Sulpicia believes Bella has a gift, which I honestly am inclined to agree with. She told me that she was suspicious of Edward from the moment he started forcing himself on her, but that she always felt more than comfortable with us."

"We'll ask her if she remembers why she felt that. It might give us some insight before we go to Volterra." I said with a soft smile.

The girls nodded as we made our way into the living room where Victoria was waiting for us, looking a bit anxious.

"How was she? Is she feeling better?" The redhead asked softly.

I smiled and nodded at her. "She's feeling a bit better every day Victoria, it's just that they have her on a lot of pain medication at the moment, so she's only able to stay awake for short periods of time and therefor we haven't had a chance to tell her about you staying with us yet. I do plan on doing that tonight."

She nodded at that. "I understand. I'm just so sorry for what I in part have let happen to her and I really want to apologize to her."

"We know, and you'll get that chance soon enough. The fact that you came to warn us about James' intentions is telling enough, and if you are just as honest with Bella as you have been with us, I think she'll be more than willing to listen to you." Alice said kindly.

Victoria only smiled and nodded as we saw her visibly relax, and to make sure that stayed that way, we all sat down and talked for most of the afternoon.

Bella's POV

I always hated it when I fell asleep because of medication, especially when the company beforehand had been so amazing, although I also wasn't surprised to see Esme once again sitting in her usual chair when I woke up again. "Hey Esme. Sorry for falling asleep again."

She smiled at me. "It's okay sweetie, I only just returned since you fell asleep just when visiting hour was over. I also know that all that medication is making you woozy."

I smiled at her. "Still, I always feel a lot better when you all are around, and I feel bad about just falling asleep on you all."

"Sweetie, it's okay. You're healing at the moment and I know that humans sleep a lot when they're healing. What matters is that you're awake now and we have a chance to talk about the things I intended to talk to you about this afternoon." She said sweetly.

"I think I'm awake enough for that Esme. They aren't bad things are they?" I asked softly.

She shook her head at that. "One of them may seem like a bad thing, but I promise that nothing I tell you will ever hurt you."

I smiled and nodded as I gently sat up so I could properly face her and give her my undivided attention. "I can't promise to be fully coherent, but I think I can at least stay awake."

She just smiled and nodded at me before she started. "The first thing will probably be the most shocking, and there is also no easy way to say this, but Victoria, the redhead that was traveling with James came to warn us about his intentions towards you. Alice saw that everything she told us was the truth and I decided that it was best if she stayed with us from now on. She is very sorry about not doing anything to protect you, but her fear of James was too great at the time. She is dying to apologize to you and make things right with you, but she also understands that you probably are not ready to see her just yet."

I smiled at her. "I knew I saw something in her eyes when we met her. Could you tell her that she is more than welcome to come and visit me and that I have already forgiven her. I know how a crippling fear can push people into inaction."

Esme smiled and patted my hand. "She'll be thrilled to hear that sweetie, and I think she'll jump at the opportunity to come and visit you tomorrow. There is however another very important thing I need to tell you. Jasper and Emmett will not be at the home when you return because they, along with Edward and Carlisle have been summoned to Volterra early. Both of them expressed wanting to join the Volturi for a while now and while this was an impossibility with Carlisle as head of the Coven, the Queens have overruled that and invited them to join, while Carlisle and Edward will get a severe punishment for what they have allowed to happen to you, as well as having no intention of following the rules."

I nodded at that. "I know, Emmett and Jasper both texted me that they went to Italy and that they were sorry that they wouldn't be there when I got home. I understand it too. I've seen how uncomfortable Jasper is at school and I don't want him to be in pain all day, and Emmett I'm pretty sure just wants an opportunity to wrestle more people. I do worry about Alice and Rose though. Will they be okay with their mates halfway across the world?"

"That is another thing we wanted to talk to you about. Both Alice and Rosalie aren't mated to Jasper and Emmett. They merely pretended to be together while at school. It makes it easier for everyone because of our supernatural beauty. In truth actual mating bonds are very rare in our world, and work vastly different than people think. Having a mate is an all encompassing feeling of need, love and co-dependency. True mates literally cannot live without each other, which was one of the reasons I knew that Edward wasn't your mate, despite Carlisle's insistence you were. There is a thing called the dynamic mating bond though. It is also very strong like the mating bond, but it is a lot less binding. The people involved still love each other deeply, but it is never as deep as a mating bond is. My gift is to see that specific mating bond in people."

I smiled at that. "I never knew you had a gift, and honestly this dynamic mating bond seem a lot easier to deal with than a mating bond. Does it work on humans too?"

"Yes sweetie, it does, and your dynamic in our Coven is very unique. I can't explain it, but it shows me that you are meant to be the unifying force between the women in our Coven." She said softly.

I couldn't help but blush at that because immediately all of the things that I had been feeling towards them made sense. "Well that certainly explains why I am having these feelings for everyone."

Esme smiled at me. "What exactly are those feelings sweetie? Perhaps I can help you interpret them a little."

"I feel things for all of you that I've never felt before. I genuinely love all of you so much, and it goes deeper than a familial love. I know it's wrong, but I can't help but be honest in my feelings." I said softly.

Esme smiled at me. "Trust me that we feel the same for you Bella, but I want you to also know that for the time being nothing will have to change, unless you want them to. We are more than willing to go at your pace."

I smiled at her. "Thank you Esme, I will definitely need some time to come to grips with everything I'm feeling, and I know that I don't have that much time before I have to be turned, with our visit to Volterra happening soon, but I am not one to be fickle with my feelings, as much as I have proven the opposite with Edward."

"That was out of your control Bella. Edward dazzled you so that you would be powerless to resist him. I have a theory on why he did that to you, but I am not sure about it just yet and I will tell you when I am certain. There are some things I need to read up on, things Carlisle desperately hoarded for himself." She said with a soft smile.

I nodded at that, having a lot to think on at the moment, and it was this moment the nurse came to inform Esme that visiting hour was over for today.

"We'll see you tomorrow Bella. Try to get some more sleep." She said sweetly.

Again I nodded as I accepted a kiss to my cheek before she left me alone with my thoughts, since I had a lot to think on.

Alice's POV

When we all walked into Bella's room the following afternoon, I was surprised to see her out of bed. "Hey Bella. They finally let you out of bed?"

She smiled and hobbled up to me to give me a hug. "Yes, I was finally given permission to leave the bed and stretch my muscles a little, and with a bit of luck I'll be free to leave in a couple of days. Then I just have to wear this cast on my arm for a couple more weeks, but at least I will be cleared for travel."

We smiled at her as we took a seat and Victoria walked into the room. "Hello Bella. It's good to see that you're on the mend."

Bella smiled at her, getting to her feet again to give the redhead a hug. "I don't blame you for what happened, I never did. The look in your eyes told me everything I needed to know. You were afraid of him like I was afraid of Edward weren't you?"

Victoria nodded and instantly relaxed into the hug. "I was, but that shouldn't be an excuse for inaction, especially given the viciousness of his attack. I should have stopped him when I had the chance."

"And I should have told Edward where he could stick his beliefs. We can't change the past. We can only look to the future, and in that future, I see us as sisters and perhaps more." Bella said with a soft smile.

Victoria smiled at her. "I hope to live up to that Bella. I will certainly try my very best."

Bella just smiled and motioned her to take a seat too. "It won't take a lot of work to get into my good graces at the moment. I might just ask you to give my back a scratch every once in a while since I can't really reach around with this cast."

Victoria just smiled at her as I just couldn't help but giggle. "I've missed this side of you Bella. It's been too long since I heard you crack a joke."

She smiled at me. "What can I say Ali. Life is too short to be serious all the time. And let's be honest. I didn't have much left after he almost broke me down to nothing."

"I still believe we should have stepped in earlier and to hell with Carlisle and his Golden Boy. It would have saved everyone a lot of grief and especially saved you an extended hospital stay." Rosalie said softly, but clearly angry at the situation.

"You know what would've happened Rose. Edward would've taken her away and killed her. That vision was always going to come true if we didn't take the route we did. I of course would've rather avoided Bella in having to be in the hospital, but any other course of action would've led to Bella's death." I said softly.

Bella smiled at us both. "It's okay. What matters is that you all have been here for me. I'd rather go through a couple of days in a hospital than having you guys having to attend my funeral. I knew what Edward was planning and to be honest I'm glad that things turned out this way, because now we have a chance for all of us to explore exactly how this dynamic mating bond works."

We all smiled at that. "It will be exactly what you want it to be Bella. We know you need some time to process everything you've learned in the past couple of days." Esme said with a soft smile.

"It's easier to process when I know that everything I've been feeling has already been confirmed. That makes it a lot easier to come to grips with everything. I'm just more curious about how that is going to present itself." Bella said with a smile.

I smiled at her as I took a seat next to her and took her hand in mine. "As we said, nothing will have to change, and everything that is going to change will change exactly the way you want it to and at your pace. We really don't want to force you into anything you aren't ready for."

She smiled at me. "That's the thing Alice, I feel like I am ready to explore this. I would never feel like this isn't something genuine. I can't explain it but I know this whole dynamic mating bond we share goes further than family."

"We have some theories that you might have a gift that allows you to see those things in someone, perhaps it is something akin to Esme's gift." I said with a soft smile.

"We'll see what happens with that, for now I am more than content with exploring this at my own pace. I honestly can't wait to see how this all will evolve." Bella said as she leaned into me.

We all smiled and I just couldn't resist pressing a kiss to the side of her head as we talked about the upcoming trip to Volterra.