Many thanks to my friends Katie and Allison for reading, and Alcyone for providing the best insight into the minds of the Volturi.
This is essentially Marcus's thoughts on Edward and Bella's human/vampire relationship during their visit in Volterra. It will remain a oneshot; I don't plan on adding anymore. I hope you enjoy my story.
Disclaimer: As much as I would love to claim ownership over Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, --and the characters involved, they all belong to Stephenie Meyer.
The sun sank lower behind the towering structures of Volterra, elongating the shadows and throwing the palazzo into cool shade. It was quickly approaching twilight, the brief hour suspended precisely between day and night. It was often rumored to be the easiest time of day for our kind, creatures of myths and legends. We were free to roam the human world without the danger of exposure by sunlight, yet not be completely veiled by darkness. In my opinion, however, twilight does not give us the freedom to haunt the lives we once had, but rather reminds us that, like twilight, we too are in limbo. We are suspended between life and death.
I pondered this similarity from my chamber's only window. It was more of an arched hole, roughly hewn from the stone, but it offered an unobstructed view of the palazzo dei priori and the scarlet-clad figures celebrating below.
It was a holy day for our beloved city, a day meant for rejoicing. The day the most savage, the evilest of all creatures, the ones that thrived off the lives of others, were driven away from the citadel. I almost smiledat the irony of the situation. Little did they know their hero, the one they had deemed "St. Marcus," observed them from the pseudo-business veneer directly above them. And anxiously awaited his next meal.
As I watched the festivities, I took note of the shimmering strands of light I saw interwoven between the people. Those with the brightest thread had the strongest relationship, as I knew from my enhanced vampire ability. With practice and much observation, I was able to distinguish romantic affinities from the working ones, loyalty from fear. For anyone less experienced than I, the complex cords of light and color would be overwhelming, like an immense web with no rhyme or reason. I, however, knew exactly how everyone felt about everyone else, a skill I'd found useful on the battlefield as well as in politics.
I sighed as the very air before me seemed to turn darker. There was a time when I relished the thought of an endless eternity at my disposal, before the years seemed to drag endlessly on and on. But that was back when I had something worth living for. As I watched the embraces of lovers and friends, I remembered this day marked much more for me than what the naïve, pathetic humans were celebrating with their crimson scarves and plastic fangs. It was this day, so many millennia ago, that I lost the only thing worth more to me than life itself.
My hand instinctively tightened on the window ledge; I heard the stone crack beneath my fingers. A quiet knock on the door brought me back from the dangerous and painful direction my thoughts had taken. The door slowly opened, and Felix's hulking form peered into the room.
"Master Aro wishes you to join him in the tower." He spoke quietly, and I sensed the implication behind his words. The unruly son of Carlisle had returned, wishing to force us into action.
With one last look at the dying sun, I turned and headed out the door. I was met in the passageway by my third brother, Caius. Our little entourage set off down the hallway. Several Guard members stopped and immediately bowed to us as we glided by. I idly took note of the strands I saw connecting their bodies to Caius and myself. I nodded in acknowledgement, needlessly reassured our followers were still loyal and submissive.
The large, circular turret, along with a few other corridors and chambers in the rest of the palace, had withstood the test of time. The stark, anachronistic contrast between the modern reception room and the medieval tower usually surprised visitors, though those same visitors soon had more to worry about once the heavy doors swung shut behind them. So would be the scene once we dealt with the Cullen boy. I inwardly smiled in anticipation.
I had only met Edward several hours ago. At the time, he looked riddled with grief. As his calamity had only recently befallen him, his sorrow hadn't yet surpassed the anger phase. I remember how he lashed out at Aro for trying to soothe him and use his misfortune as an opportunity to recruit another Guard member.
"I want to die."
That served as his greeting; plain and simple.
Aro looked hesitant; usually whenever a suicidal vampire (and there weren't that many) made that request, the Volturi were more than willing to comply, lest that vampire might jeopardize the city. Aro, however, knew killing his son wouldn't bode well with Carlisle.
Aro's tentative silence seemed to enrage Edward even more. His hands balled into fists, and he looked murderous.
"Edward…listen to reason," Aro pleaded. "You mustn't do something you'll regret. Everything will work out for the best."
Edward closed his eyes, seeming to will himself not to lose control. He shook with the effort.
"Besides…with your subliminal gift, ending your life would be simply…" Aro trailed off, searching for the right word. "Wasteful."
"You don't understand," Edward hissed.
Aro stepped closer, holding out his hand. "Why don't you let me try?"
Edward recoiled, at first, from his sudden closeness, then reached out and pressed his palm to Aro's. Both men closed their eyes and leaned in.
I had understood Edward's heartache, having endured the same thing myself so many years ago when, in the battle that secured our city, I lost…Helena. It still hurt to think her name. I had wanted to die myself, at first. I had experienced that empty, hollow feeling when you lose something you loved more than you loved yourself. I had experienced loss. Though he had only just arrived, I saw heartbreak as if it were written all over Edward's face in capital letters. In the back of my mind, I chastised Edward for not guarding his heart better. I knew how forceful love could be, and how disastrous the consequences if it went wrong.
Aro eventually opened his eyes, and pulled away. He inhaled deeply, and met Edward's gaze.
"Human." He spat out the word, not as though he resented it, but as though he blamed her humanity for the cause of her death. In a way, he was right in thinking so.
The very air seemed heavy with tension. They were running the concept over in their minds. A vampire and a human falling in love… Aro was astonished. Caius was disgusted. I soon discarded the information, internally waving it away. It didn't matter to me; Edward would live, or Edward would die. If he lived, he'd learn to cope. As in my case, the centuries would begin to blur together, and he would suffer in stony silence.
"From your memories…her scent was so strong…la tua cantante…" Aro was at a loss for words. "But there will be other women, Edward-"
"I can't live without her." Edward looked up with pain in his eyes. "Please don't ask me to."
We refused, and Edward departed after making it obvious how he felt about our decision. Even though I could sympathize, I agreed with my brothers. Edward's talent was too valuable for us to throw away.
"Marcus, Caius, look!" Aro all but sang as we entered. "Bella is alive after all, and Alice is here with her! Isn't that wonderful?"
I recognized Edward, and glanced at the trembling girl he had clutched at his side. She was small, her dark hair wet and disheveled, and wholly human. I identified the small woman with short black hair next to him as his sister, Alice.
I fought back a yawn. Edward had acted impulsively, immaturely, and had deserved the scare. And now he had his mate back. I could tell from the strength of the light I saw between the two of them; I was almost blinded by its brightness.
I reached out to Aro as I passed. I see their relationship is quite intense. I'm surprised at how such a bond can be forged between our kind and hers. It is rather remarkable. Though I can't say I share your enthusiasm.
"Thank you, Marcus. That's quite interesting."
I heard Edward quietly fill the others in on our transaction.
"It's just so difficult to understand, even now…" Aro eyed Edward's close embrace of the girl at his side. "How can you stand so close to her like that?"
"It's not without effort."
I inadvertently sniffed the air, trying to catch some of the human girl's scent. I detected a slightly floral aroma rising off her warm body, and imagined the taste of the blood that flowed through her veins. I'll admit it seemed unorthodox to me that Edward fell in love with a human to begin with, but I could see the attraction she held for him by her scent alone. It still remained a mystery as to why he chose to keep her alive instead of indulging in her delicious flavor. Aro seemed to be thinking along the same lines as myself, though why he cared so much when the girl's life would surely end soon enough was another mystery to me.
"But still- la tua cantante!" Aro wailed. "What a waste!"
"I look at it more as a price."
"A very high price." Aro raised his eyebrows.
"Opportunity cost," Edward replied evenly.
I let my mind wander as their conversation continued. It seemed unlikely that Edward would surrender the girl to us in exchange for amnesty, judging by the concentration of their link. We had no alternative but to either change the girl, or…detain them all here. Permanently. Our laws dictated our existence must be kept secret. The human girl before me was a living, breathing violation.
Edward's outburst quickly brought my attention back to the present. Alice had grabbed his arm, hoping to restrain him. He shook of her hand and fiercely glared at Aro. All pretenses of civility disappeared as Edward snarled and bared his teeth, preparing to fight. After waving off the overeager Felix, Aro addressed his pet, Jane.
"I was wondering, my dear one, if Bella is immune to you."
I settled in to watch. Caius drifted closer, not wanting to miss anything either. Edward flung himself at Jane, growls building in his throat. I leaned forward, waiting. No sooner had Edward moved from his place than he was on the floor, thrashing in pain. His menacing growls were quickly silenced by the force of Jane's look.
I heard a high, shrill "Stop!" It was the first time the human girl had spoken. She stared at Edward, horror evident in her wide eyes. She struggled to free herself from the hold Alice had locked her in. Jane redirected her torturing gaze to Bella, who continued to stare at Edward on the ground. She seemed unaffected.
"Don't be put out, dear one," Aro reassured Jane, who looked as though she wanted to launch herself at the girl. "She confounds us all."
I sat back again, slightly more intrigued than I was before. She was immune to our vampire abilities, yet I was able to see her tie to Edward, clear as day…most curious….
"So what do we do with you now?" Aro mused. His fun was drawing to a close.
I noticed Edward tighten his grip around Bella's shoulders.
"I don't suppose there's any chance that you've changed your mind? Your talent would be an excellent addition to our little family."
I watched Edward measure his words carefully as he answered, "I'd…rather…not."
"No, thank you."
"And you, Bella?"
Did he mean to ask her if she wanted to join our family, or the group of humans who would be arriving fairly shortly?
"What?" Caius interrupted.
"Caius, surely you see the potential," Aro soothed. "I haven't seen a prospective talent so promising since we found Jane and Alec. Can you imagine the possibilities when she is one of us?"
"No, thank you," Bella whispered hoarsely.
Then there was no choice left for us. Our regulations claimed her.
"She knows too much. You have exposed our secrets," Caius hissed. "Though it is true, only her life is forfeit. You may leave if you wish."
A menacing snarl escaped Edward's lips.
"Unless you do intend to give her immortality?" Aro asked, desperately clinging to the idea of a happy ending.
The group of people and flash of mahogany hair outside the window caught my notice. Heidi had returned, with enough visitors in tow to satiate our hunger. I turned back in time to see Aro releasing Alice's hand, smiling.
"That was fascinating!" He exclaimed. "To see the things you've seen- especially the ones that haven't happened yet!"
As the situation appeared resolved for the most part, I withdrew my attention from the current exchange and thought about our snack making their way up to the turret at that moment.
"Goodbye, young friends," Aro called as they made their way towards the door, Felix's cloak fastened around Edward's bare shoulders. I looked past them, straining to get a glimpse of Heidi's catch. I soon heard the cacophony of human voices in the antechamber. As I waited, I casually wondered what would become of Edward and Bella, and whether or not they'd follow through with their promise. They were soon forgotten as the large crowd moved into the turret, and the entire Volturi family moved in as one to greet them.
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