Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Stephanie Meyer!
1861, Houston, TX
I sigh as I mentally note that it's another typically warm day here in Houston, Texas as I lay in the clearing near our home looking at the sky, picking out shapes of different animals in the clouds. It isn't too sunny, thank goodness, Mama would have a fit if she caught me laying out like this without something to cover my skin, but I don't see why it would matter as my skin has never been any darker than the palest ivory. Even if I spent a whole week out in the burning summer sun, I'm sure it would stay the same pale ivory it's always been. I expect that it's a good thing our family has a whole bunch of trees around our property or else I'd never be allowed out! I suppose it's a good thing I also wore a bonnet, that way I could possibly argue my way out of anything, especially where Papa was concerned; he let's me get away with nearly anything much to Mama's annoyance.
I close my eyes as I listen for any commotion coming from the house. My brother Jasper told me this morning that he had to talk to Mama and Papa about something important and that he would rather tell me when it was just the two of us. Jasper is two years older than I am, making him seventeen and I fifteen right now, but we're so close it's scary. We can almost tell exactly what the other is thinking even before we think it and we love spending time together. He's the one who taught me how to throw a mean punch and shoot a rifle! Oh, I'll never forget the day when Mama figured out it was I shooting out in the field with Jasper and not Papa!
I giggled as I thought of the memory. It was only about half a year ago when we were caught, but he had been teaching me in secret since I was thirteen; he said that I should learn so I could keep all of the boys away. Our house isn't a mansion, but it is rather large, and we have quite a bit of land around us along with many trees and large rolling fields. One of the fields is separated from our house by a small hill followed by a thick line of trees where they clear out into a beautiful, green meadow. This meadow is where my brother taught me how to hold, load, aim, fire, and clean a rifle.
We had been going at it for nearly three hours when we heard Mama shouting at Jasper to find me and come to eat. Unfortunately, she was shouting from just behind a tree that she was walking around when she saw me aiming at a makeshift target Jasper had set up against another tree on the other-side of the meadow. Oh, I've never seen her so angry!
First she screamed such a high-pitched scream before rushing over, jerking the rifle from my hands, throwing it at Jasper and then she smacked me right across the face screaming, "DO YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF ISABELLA?! HOW DARE YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO PARTICIPATE IN GAMES BOYS PLAY!"
Then, rounding on Jasper, "AND YOU! LETTING HER! JASPER, HOW COULD YOU?! SHE'S SUPPOSED TO BE A YOUNG LADY!" Apparently noticing some of the servants stopping to look at what she was screaming at, she then lowered her voice just a bit, adding, "Just you wait until your father hears about this! She'll NEVER be married off if you keep teaching her how to act less like a lady and more like a dirty boy!"
Thankfully, Papa didn't punish Jasper and I, however he did warn us that we had to lead Mama on as if he did.
Long before she finished her rant, which she didn't finish for nearly a month, I was crying. I started crying the moment she slapped my cheek, and kept crying even when Jasper held me close while listening to her rave until her voice was hoarse in the meadow. Usually when he holds me close and I bury my face into his chest I calm quite quickly, but I was so terrified that she was truly going to marry me off to someone.
I frowned suddenly, my eyes still closed as I came back to the present moment. That had to be what Jasper was talking to our parents about right now; I couldn't think of anything else! I shrugged my shoulders as I stay lying upon the quilt in the grass. I knew better than to ruin a dress of mine by laying in the grass, even if it wasn't one of my good ones: it was only a plain, light blue dress. I grinned slightly; blue was Jazzy's favorite color on me, be said it made me look less pale. I laughed.
My laugh was cut short however when I heard what sounded suspiciously like Mama shout. I sat up, startled and carefully maneuvered my skirts around me so I could jump up quickly if necessary. It wasn't what sounded like a scared scream; it was more what I could only guess as anguished. I looked in the direction of our home, squinting my eyes and holding a hand over my eyes to block out any sun that could be hindering my sight like I had seen Papa and Jasper do many times. The large, green shuttered windows stood out dark against the white color of the house, however there either wasn't enough light coming into the rooms or Mama and Papa were on the other-side with Jasper speaking in Papa's office or possibly the library.
I wanted so badly to stand and run the distance to the door so I could see why Mama had made such a terrible sound, but I had promised Jasper that I would stay away until he came to find me himself. A terrible hollow feeling started to brew in my chest; this couldn't be about marrying me off. Mama wouldn't make such a sound as that if my brother objected to a marriage for me, she would more likely than not make a huffing sound and stomp just a bit before her anger got the best of her and she began to let out a distinct, shrill sound. Don't get me wrong, I love Mama with all of my heart and I couldn't possibly imagine life without her or Papa but I must admit that she is more of a handful than I would rather deal with. I'm much more like Papa.
I turned back to look into the trees but immediately whipped my head around again as I heard a slam and Mama cry, "NO! PLEASE RECONSIDER!"
Jasper never shouted so I was incredibly startled when I heard his voice immediately follow our mother's plea, "RECONSIDER?! I'VE CONSIDERED ENOUGH THANK YOU! I'M GOING!" Another slam. A door this time.
Going? I thought. Going where? Was Jasper going somewhere? Was my older brother leaving me?!
The hollow feeling in my chest fell lower into my stomach and began to turn into a horrified feeling. No!
No! No, no, no, no, no!
I stood and looked at our house and started towards it when the large, white door opened to reveal my brother. He was tall, muscular but thin, and had blonde hair and brown eyes, identical eyes to mine. However I had long, dark mahogany hair that was every bit as wavy as his blonde.
"Jazz?" I whispered, seeing that his face revealed him to be very angry.
He looked up and his face softened when his eyes found mine, "There's my Bella," he said.
He motioned with his hand for me to come closer and follow him to where I assumed was our special spot.
Our special spot was nothing more than a large boulder that had somehow found it's way under our favorite and very old, very large tree that stood far from our house.
When we arrived in the shade, he sat on the stone of the boulder and motioned for me to sit next to him. I did. He looked away for a moment and then looked back at me, seeming to study my face.
"Bells," he took a deep breath. "Bella, I know you know that there's a war starting, I know you read and hear the news Papa brings home."
I nodded, "Yes." My sinking feeling of horror started to bubble.
He took my hand and turned to completely face me, "Bells I'm joining the Confederate Army and going to fight."
I stared at him. Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no, no, no!
"No." I whispered. "No, Jasper! You're seventeen! You aren't allowed! No! You can't!"
He sighed, "You know I'm good with what I want to do and I wanted in, so they let me join. So, I can. I'm so sorry, Bella. I don't want to leave you, but if I don't go, who will?"
"NO ONE!" I shouted. "No one should go! Papa is too old and you're too young! What if something happens?! Jasper I can't lose you! You're my brother!"
The dam holding my tears at bay suddenly broke and tears flooded my face and I coughed suddenly as I gulped in a large amount of air so I could continue my rant, "No! NO! Please don't go!"
My brother looked as if he had done a great injustice and looked quickly to the side as he drew in a shaky breath, "Bells, I'm so, so sorry. But even if I decided I didn't want to go, I'd have no choice. I promise I'll write to you as much as I can," he tried. "I can't promise every day, but I can promise I'll do my best for every other week or so. I don't know what it's like out there for sure so I can't make promises."
My body shook with each sob I let out as I suddenly leapt at my brother and pulled him to me as it hit me that there was no stopping him from leaving. I knew him better than anyone did and that meant that I knew that once he had decided he was going, that meant that he was going. But oh, Lord, how my heart broke.
"You're breaking my heart Jazz," I whispered.
He suddenly shook with a small sob, nothing big, that wasn't him at all, "I'm sorry Bella, truly I am. But it's what I'm meant to do, okay? And guess what, now no boys will mess with you in town because they know I'm a military man now. That's good, right?"
I'd rather all the boys in town throw rocks at me and push me in the mud in my best Sunday dress and pull out all of my hair than have my brother gone from me, but I didn't tell him that. I merely nodded, coward as I am.
"That's my Bella," Jasper whispered. "That's my little sister that I love so much."
He pulled me closer and put his face in my hair and breathed in. I did the same to his shirt as I clung to him so tightly. I had a terrible, terrible feeling about him leaving but I knew that he wouldn't listen to me if I voiced that thought.
"How long will you be?" I whispered.
"I'll be back before you can even miss me," He said enthusiastically. I knew then that he was actually excited to go and fight. He truly is made for something like the military, Papa always said so anyway. I've only read in books what military men were supposed to be like and my big brother fit the picture so well, I knew.
"I already miss you, Jazz."
He nodded. We sat in silence on our boulder, I don't know how long, but we just sat in silence. Suddenly, I pulled my bonnet from my head and pulled my absolute favorite blue ribbon from my hair. Jasper stared as my dark hair fell in ringlets around my face and shoulders. I tied my bonnet back on and turned to him, holding my ribbon.
"I don't want you to forget me," I started, but he laughed gently.
"Bells, I will never, ever forget about you. How could I?"
I shook my head, "I don't want you to forget me, or the way my hair smells. You say that my hair smells like fresh strawberries and you know that this is my favorite blue ribbon so I wear it a lot. It'll smell like my hair does and I want you to keep it so you don't forget that either." I pushed my now folded ribbon into his hand and then placed my hands upon my skirts, looking down.
I didn't see his face but I know he froze momentarily and I know that I heard the sob he let escape his throat right before I found myself wrapped in his brotherly embrace, "Thank you Bella," he whispered, "But you know I'll never forget anything about you."
I looked up at him, "Now you're supposed to give me something of yours to keep for you until you get back home to me!" I smiled and looked away so he could man-up as Papa calls it.
A moment later he stood, "I have the perfect thing!" He grinned at me, taking my hand, "come on Bells, let me show you."
We walked with my arm looped through his, mostly so he could keep me from tripping over anything and everything. He had placed my ribbon in his breast pocket for safe keeping and promised me that he would always have it with him and when he was fighting he would tie it around his ankle inside his boot so he wouldn't lose it.
I agreed that it was a rather good idea.
He took me upstairs and into his study. I used to spend hours in here with him learning how to read and playing with both of our toys, I smiled softly at the memory. He had me sit on a chaise and wait for him to come back, promising he'd only be fifteen seconds. I counted.
Fifteen seconds later, he walked back in from his sleeping quarters holding a thick, dark blue and gold blanket that I immediately recognized as the blanket he always had with him growing up and he still couldn't bear to part with it. He made me swear that I wouldn't tell any of the boys he was friends with that he still had it, I swore, and I never have told.
"Your 'J' blanket!" I squealed.
The blanket was blue velvet with silk gold trim on one side embroidered with a dark blue elaborate "J" on one corner of the gold silk. "'J' for Jasper!" I would always giggle when I learned what the letter "J" was for when I was a small child.
"Yes," he sighed. "My 'J' blanket." He carefully folded it up, "This is for you to keep for me so you don't forget me and for safe-keeping. I know you'll take care of it."
The rest of the week was spent preparing for my brother to leave. I helped packing necessities and he and Papa readied his horse for the journey. I also snuck in some of Jasper's favorite chocolates that I had stolen from Mama's chocolate drawer.
We were both sad that Mama was refusing to talk to him since he was leaving. I hoped she would come around to say at least 'goodbye' when he was due to leave within the hour. I cried countless tears since I heard the news and even though I suppose he thought I was taking the news well, I was devastated. I hope he wasn't as devastated as I or else we'd be in trouble. I know Jasper can't do anything when he's not feeling at his best emotionally. He was fine physically, he could do anything he wanted, but I know his mind had to be in it.
Unfortunately it was time for him to head out on his horse. I walked out, my skirts swishing around me as I quickened my pace towards my brother. I looked around and smiled slightly as I noticed my mother running full out to Jasper, her arms open wide and tears running down her face.
"Renée," Papa started, but she cut him off, "Oh stop Charles! He's my son! My only son, and he's going to fight in a war! Oh, Jasper Whitlock you make us proud! You hear me?"
Jasper nodded, smiling brightly, "Of course Mama!"
Papa had obviously already said his good-byes to my brother so I took my chance and ran at him, leaping and landing in his arms as I tightened my hold around his neck, "I love you Jasper! You come back to me you hear? You write to me all of the time! You're my favorite brother!"
"I'm your only brother," his voice was muffled.
I sniffed as tears came from my eyes, "Exactly," I whispered, "So be careful and look out for anything suspicious and take care of yourself!" I hugged him again, "I love you."
"I love you too, little sister," he whispered. He let me go, studied me for a moment, looked and nodded at our parents and mounted his horse.
"Well, bye then. See you!" He waved and then he was gone.
1863, Houston, TX
It's been just over two years since I last saw my brother when he joined the army. I received bi-weekly letters from him, as did Mama and Papa and I read them greedily, imagining all of the excitement he must be experiencing. We're so proud of him for advancing so quickly through the ranks. Papa says that it's his charisma and personality, and I have to agree. Mama writes him and asks him if he needs money but Jasper always replies in the negative saying that he's making as decent a living as he can since he's always moving with his soldiers.
I was sitting in the parlor waiting yet again for the mail boy to come riding his horse up our property to bring me another of Jasper's letters. He had been late in sending his letters recently in fact I haven't received a single one in nearly a month, which is very much out of the ordinary for him. The uneasy feeling that had been in my body since the day I found out he was leaving had been growing larger over the past two months. I shuddered.
Mama was sitting in the parlor with me doing some knitting. She had given up in getting me to knit with her and was now content to let me sit and read a book since I had finished all of my required studies and had, to her dismay, personally threatened every boy and man that came to ask permission to court me with my father's spare rifle.
I had grown to be a much better shot, I noticed. I've taken to practicing whenever Mama goes into town, which turns out to be quite often, and I must say that I could certainly give Jasper a run for his money. I've even taken to practicing my punching skills with Papa (secretly, of course, Mama would never allow it).
I looked to the wall at a brand new hand-drawn portrait of myself that Mama had commissioned for me. She bought a new beautiful rose-colored dress with the tightest corset. The sleeves were in-style and large with a large skirt. She had forced my hair into ringlets and pulled it up with flowers and a pink ribbon. In the portrait I was sitting looking to the side with my skirts around me and my hands were clutching a dark blue and gold blanket. Mama had tried desperately to get me to not have it in the portrait but the artist insisted that the blue and gold would break up all of the rose tones of the dress. I had insisted that he be sure to include the "J" for my sake, he did. It truly was a wonderful piece of work, even if it was just plain old me. I hate wearing dresses, but what was I to do? I sighed and looked over at a smaller portrait of Jasper that sat next to it. How I missed him desperately.
I started when I heard a galloping sound coming from outside. I looked at Mama and saw that she noticed it at the same time I did and we jumped up and ran to the outside porch to await the mail boy's arrival.
I immediately noticed something wasn't right. Coming up the dirt way that lead up to our home was not the mail boy. I gasped, oh, Lord. It was two men in Confederate uniforms.
"Oh, Lord, have mercy," Mama whispered, "Charles!" she shouted, "CHARLES! QUICKLY!"
"PAPA!" I shouted too. I heard my father thundering down the stairs behind us and bursting through the door.
"What?! What is it?" He asked before he saw where I was pointing at the two soldiers that were now quite close to us. "Oh, no," he whispered, "No."
The older of the two men, who looked no more than twenty-five dismounted, followed by the second man, and walked forward. He tipped his hat at Mama who had wrapped her arms around me, and then smiled grimly at me before turning to Papa, "Are you the father of Major Jasper Whitlock?"
"I am," Papa nodded once, his usually lively face so pale.
The first man suddenly saluted my father and then handed him a letter, "I'm sorry to say, sir, that your son has gone missing."
"WHAT?!" Mama shouted, "Missing? No!"
"But he isn't dead, right?" I spoke over her, frantic, "Please!"
He turned to address us, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to tell you that I cannot answer your questions because I do not know. That letter has all of the information possible to give." He turned back to Papa as I clung desperately to Mama, "My apologies, sir, but he has been missing for just over a month now his troops tell us. At first we thought he had gone without leave but we found many of his belongings in his lodgings just as he left them when last seen."
"What was he doing when he was last seen?" Papa asked.
"I believe he was helping patrol, sir, but I cannot be sure. I'm sorry, but I must leave now."
And they left.
The world was suddenly closing up on me and I couldn't breathe properly. I know it wasn't from my corset because, while that restricted my breathing, it never felt like this. I listened to Papa read the letter out loud, just confirming what the soldier had said about my brother. I tore myself from my mother and ran up to my room, slamming and locking my door before throwing myself upon my bed and crying deep, wrenching sobs.
I sobbed for hours until nightfall after I knew my parents had retired to bed. I sat up and stared out my wardrobe as the most wonderful, brilliant, yet incredibly idiotic and suicidal plan formed in my head.
I threw my shoes off and ran light as a feather to Jasper's room. I carried a candle with me to see in the darkness and opened the door to be greeted with dust. No one had been in his room since about a year after he left and I knew exactly where everything was.
Everything he left behind, on purpose or by accident.
He had left behind a Confederate soldier's uniform that Mama had sewn too small for him by accident.
Too small for him, just right for me.
I smiled the biggest smile since he left. I was going to find my brother. I was going to war.
Haha, cliffie! Sorry! But hey, 7 pages and 4,000 words is A LOT!
So, what did you think? Bad? Good? It's been AGES since I've written anything because of life so I NEED your reviews to get some pointers!!!!
I hope you liked it! Review and let me know if you want more!
By the way, this WILL eventually be a Bella/Edward fic, but for now I'm focusing on Bella's life with her big brother Jasper!