Hers was a life that had been so ordinary, so normal that it was easy to pinpoint the exact moment at which everything shifted.
Her looks were average: not ugly, but not striking. At times she had wished to be skinnier, curvier, prettier, anything -er. But average was better than sub-par, and not being a knockout let her blend in, which she liked.
She was intelligent enough to do well in classes without struggling much, but she didn't deceive herself that she was a genius.
She had a few casual friends, but no one special who knew the essence of her, had been taken on a few first dates, but nothing more, and had never been in love.
Her parents fought and loved and fought some more. Never fairy tale happy, but never broken up. This, she had concluded from things she knew from friends, books and movies was more the norm than the exception. They, the three of them, were a thoroughly ordinary family, living in a thoroughly ordinary house in a suburb.
She went to the state college, not far from home and focused on literature. Her goals in life were simple: a degree, a job, maybe marriage and family in the future. If she could write a book that people liked or have a few students fondly remember her in their old age, she would consider herself to be extremely successful.
Bella Swan seemed perfectly average in every way, and that was fine with her.
The one time that she made a decision to do something just a little unusual for her seemed to set her fate awry, and her normal life was irrevocably lost.
Between her sophomore and junior years in college, she joined a group of students who were teaching English at a language school in Budapest for the summer. She'd always wanted to travel, but had never expected a chance to do much of it. To have a passport fat with extra pages and immigration stamps, to make her way through foreign airports and train stations with signs she couldn't read, to have memories of places and foods and faces far removed from her daily life was something she'd longed for, but buried somewhere deep inside of her.
This was the part of her that simply didn't fit in an ordinary life: the part of her that looked at pictures of fjords and castles and cemeteries and jagged mountain ranges and felt like she'd been there or should be there; the part of her that thrilled to stories of werewolves and vampires and warriors and relished the slight shiver of fear and anticipation she felt; the part of her that wanted more, much more than anything she would experience in the life that stretched out straight and simple and safe and predictable before her.
She hoped that by taking this trip, she would get all of that out of her system. If she could go there, go anywhere and see that in reality it was just as ordinary as here, then she could settle in to her life as she'd planned it with no regret, no reservations. She could purge herself of the feeling that had plagued her for years – the feeling that she was incomplete and meant for something extraordinary. Who was she to feel that way?
Travel was much more uncomfortable than the books made it sound, but arriving was incredible.
Teaching was ordinary in the extreme. She was good at it, and it came easily to her. It was the hours she was not teaching, though, that caused her blood to sing with new found excitement and eagerness for life.
The weight of the ancient city invaded her consciousness with an almost tangible weight. On the weekends, they traveled in a group to some of the old villages in the area to visit castles and churches and mountains. She didn't believe in reincarnation but could not shake the feeling that she had either been here before or that something here was trying to reach out and pull her in. It was equal parts eerie and thrilling. It was nothing she could explain in words, but it was as if someone, something was watching her and drawing her into a future entirely unlike what she had planned.
She welcomed it.
Aro had long since grown used to the tug of what he could only explain as fate. Why he was drawn to certain places at certain times he could not be sure, but it worked to the benefit of himself and his kind often enough that he no longer questioned it. He drifted with the pull, curious to see the results.
On this cloudy afternoon he was sitting in a square in Budapest, his eye on a young man he suspected had the gift of foreknowledge, waiting to see if he would feel the spark he experienced when it was time to make a connection.
The results were surprising, even to one so old and experienced as himself. Not only did the young man manifest an extraordinarily strong vision, but the contents of the vision pulled Aro in another direction completely.
The man was distracted, as so many young men often are, by a pretty face. As soon as he focused on the girl, he began to see her future.
Aro saw himself making a phone call that would spare her from the fate intended for her parents.
Then he saw the girl, still human yet working at Aro's school.
The girl, asleep on her bed, unaware as a young vampire brooded over her.
The vampire tracing her veins down her neck, across soft breasts, to the juncture between her thighs, inhaling her scent as he did so. Nearly at the end of his control, overwhelmed by the conflict of his raging bloodlust yet put back into balance by the absolute adoration and love he felt for her.
The girl, pale and even more beautiful, hand in hand with the young vampire asking for Aro's blessing.
It seemed that he had come all this way to secure Edward Cullen's eternal happiness.
A/N: As you can see, this is going to be an AU fic. But there are vampires, I'm sticking with most of the traditional Twilight mythology and I am doing my best at keeping people in character. Aro, obviously, and most of the Volturi will be more or less out of character. I'm doing this NaNoWriMo style, so I plan to work on it every day. Enjoy!