Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, nor do I own any of Twilight's characters. All characters and themes referenced belong to Stephenie Meyer. Any quotations are purely for reference and are in no way an attempt at any copyright infringement. I own nothing except my own plot line and characters you may not recognize.
Spoilers: Twilight, New Moon and most of Eclipse.
Synopsis: Following the battle against the newborn army, a human teenaged boy had stumbled onto Edward's eradication of Victoria, witnessing more than a human should ever know. Captured by the Volturi, the boy's fate is no less than grim. The sadistic Jane gives Edward an ultimatum: Kill the boy himself or lose his true love forever. Forced into the situation, he opts to end the boy's life, but in doing so, his desire for human blood is awakened and becomes nearly impossible to control.
A/N: This little story of mine continues immediately after Chapter 25 of Eclipse. Anything after that in the original Twilight series never happened.
Chapter 1: Ethan
As I watched the grey cloaks of the Volturi vanish into the mist, I was hesitant to breathe a sigh of relief. The sickening sound of Bree's body crunching and snapping wouldn't stop echoing in my mind. Edward continued rubbing my shoulders as I shook beneath his arm. From the corner of my eye, I could see the smoke rising from the smoldering remains of the newborn vampire; the merciless fate delivered onto her by the Volturi. I fought against the impulse to look directly at it for fear of recognizing any distinctive body parts. I had blacked out once already and it wasn't something I needed to have happen again. The incense smell scratched at my throat, forcing me to cough.
Edward kissed my temple in another attempt to comfort me for all the horror I had just witnessed, but something about his action wasn't quite right. It seemed distracted; unsure. His hand suddenly tensed, becoming motionless against my upper arm. I looked up at his face, and his golden eyes were narrowed into slits, staring off in the direction where the Volturi had disappeared.
Before I could question it, a guttural rumble rolled inside his throat. "Damn it! Why didn't I hear him before?!" he snarled worriedly.
Sucking in a sharp breath, I scanned the perimeter of the clearing nervously. "What? Who?"
"I have to get to him before they do," Edward answered cryptically, ignoring my question. He released me as Alice approached us, her expression ambivalent. "Stay here!" Edward instructed, and before I could object, he took off running.
"Edward!" I called after him, panic heavy in my voice, but he had passed beyond the trees before his name had finished spilling over my trembling lips.
A small cold hand slipped into mine, causing me to flinch. "Stay here," Alice repeated Edward's request. She avoided my frantic gaze and stared in the same direction Edward had fled. Her expression suddenly became vacant, and I knew she was experiencing a vision. I was almost too afraid to ask...
"Alice? What do you see? Is Edward –?"
"He'll be... fine," Alice answered ominously, and squeezed her hand around my fingers.
Wide-eyed, I stared at her face, trying to search for answers. She finally turned to look me, probably in response to my quivering hand. She nodded once, a single crease breaking across her forehead, disrupting her perfect porcelain face.
"He'll be fine, Bella," she repeated, her angelic voice lacking the conviction I desperately sought. There was something she wasn't telling me.
My heart thudded furiously. Had my instincts been right? Was the horror far from over? It didn't matter that I had seen more than enough terror to last a lifetime; I should have known better than to think it would just vanish along with the Volturi.
"What's going on, Alice? Please tell me," I begged. "Who didn't Edward hear before?" I demanded frantically.
A soft breeze made her dark pixie-length hair dance around her face as she returned her solemn gaze toward the trees with a heavy sigh.
Running back through the eastern forest toward the campsite, I knew it wouldn't be long before I found him. It was a young male's voice that rang in my mind. He was scared, and he was also running. He wouldn't be hard to find; not with his heart pounding ferociously and his breath rough and ragging. I could have heard him from miles away. And if it wasn't for that, the scent of his fear was pungent in the air. He was an easy target for any vampire. My only hope was that I was the only one that would find him.
I should have noticed his presence earlier, but a human boy was nothing close to resembling a threat... not when I was protecting Bella's life from that fire-haired psychopath that wanted to tear her to shreds. If I could have slain Victoria any more brutally than I already had, I would have. Over and over. I'd create an eternal inferno to incessantly blaze around her ashes to ensure the greatest defense for my love. Nothing would ever threaten to harm Bella again. I would always see to that.
And this was why I had to find him. He had seen everything; the violent brawl between Victoria and I that ended in her evisceration, Seth in his werewolf form helping me pile together the butchered body parts to burn... The horrific scenes looped in his mind and it was making him go mad. This boy had witnessed more than any human was supposed to know, and if the Volturi found him first, it would be another excuse to punish me for it.
Careless. Sloppy. Negligent. These words would be on the kinder end of the spectrum of the castigation I'd receive, and Jane wasn't known to be "kind" for long. She played by the rules, that was certain, but she'd never fail to catch our mistakes. That, and she didn't give second chances. What happened with Bree was example enough. I wasn't about to try her patience, for she was nothing but ruthless, and the only way around this was to make sure she never found out about him.
It was approximately halfway back to the campsite where I heard leaves being rustled and twigs snapping loudly underneath hurried strides. The only goal in his mind was to run away from the madness. It didn't matter where he was going, as long as his feet carried him far from where his mind could not escape.
I broke through some heavy brush and finally found the boy who appeared to be no more than fifteen years old. His disheveled coffee-colored hair pasted to his forehead which dripped of perspiration. He gasped as I appeared in front of him, sounding as if he was choking on his air. I realized it must have looked like I had materialized out of nowhere. Stumbling backward, he tried to catch his balance but failed and landed roughly in the dirt. He held his hands out in front of himself toward me with a pleading desperation in his eyes.
Oh no, not you!... What are you?... Please don't kill me...
"Don't hurt me. Please," he begged, shuffling his feet against the earth until he had backed himself up against the base of a large sycamore.
I was at him in a flash, pressing my palm against his mouth to silence him as I crouched over his trembling body. His crystal blue eyes paled and widened in horror as he uttered a muffled scream from beneath my hand.
"Relax, I'm not going to hurt you," I assured, keeping my hand pressed firmly over his mouth. The boy's pulse was racing, and instead of Victoria, it was himself that he imagined having me decapitate.
Taking a second to listen, I determined that we were still alone. Still safe.
Fisting the sleeve of his jacket in my other hand, I gave him a slight shake and looked intently into his glistening eyes. "I'm not going to hurt you, but there are others out here who want to," I spoke slowly and clearly, never breaking my stare. "If they hear you scream, they're going to find you just as easily as I did. So, when I take my hand off of your mouth, you're going to press your lips together as tightly as you can and not make a single noise. Do you understand me?"
A petrified tear slipped from the corner of his eye and slid over my fingers. I could already feel his lips pressing together as his head nodded quickly behind my palm.
I won't say a word. I promise. Just don't kill me. Please, God, don't let me die.
I let go of his jacket and slowly lifted my hand from his mouth, keeping my gaze sternly fixed on his. As I stood up, I offered the boy my hand. He stared at it hesitantly for a few seconds before eventually accepting it, but avoided my eyes as he stood back up onto his shaking legs.
"Follow me," I uttered, softening my features. It seemed to calm him a little and he trailed me as I began to walk toward the north. Getting this boy out of the forest was of upmost importance to his survival, not to mention the more serious ramifications that would surely follow. I still wasn't completely sure what to tell him or where to take him, so for now, the complete opposite direction from Jane would have to do.
We didn't take ten steps before the forest suddenly took on an eerie silence. The branches of all the trees drooped as the wind held its breath, and even I could feel a chill creeping across my icy flesh. I stilled my footsteps and the boy did the same. He turned to look at me questioningly. Nothing moved but my eyes as I scanned the woods. I saw nothing, heard nothing... until a single solitary crow flew in and perched on a low branch right across from us. It glared at me before giving a portentous caw, but by then, its warning was already unnecessary. The next moment I was on the ground writhing in agony.
She was back. I was too late.
Groaning through my tightly clenched teeth, I clawed at the ground and curled into a ball, suffering silently until the crippling torture was too much to bear. I screamed despite my determination to hold myself together. My muscles tensed and I flipped over, arching my back and slamming the soles of my shoes against the soil. I fisted my hair in both hands and let another holler rip from my throat. Shutting my eyes tightly, I silently begged for the anguish to end. I couldn't stand feeling so powerless.
Just as suddenly as it began, the pain stopped and I rolled back onto my stomach as I took a moment to recover. As I opened my eyes, the hem of a dark cloak lay flush against the ground only inches in front of me. I lifted my head to glance up the entire length of the figure standing above me, and clenched my jaw in anticipation of another possible wave of pain.
Jane's smug grin peeked out from beneath her dark cowl which kept the rest of her face hidden in its shadow. She tilted her head upward slightly to reveal her crimson stare. "I knew I didn't come all this way for nothing," she uttered. Keeping her eyes fixed on me, she motioned with a small nod of her head in the boy's direction and smiled wickedly. "Who's your friend?"
I turned my head to look at him, surprised that he hadn't tried to make a run for it. The boy was frozen in a petrified stupor. I almost wished his body would take pity on him and shut down on its own before Jane could have her way with him.
Jane didn't wait for me to answer her. Instead, she turned her attention to the boy. "What is your name?" Jane asked him, almost sounding kind if not for her dead eyes.
Her question didn't penetrate his terrified state. He continued to stare at me, my screams echoing in his mind, adding to the horror he'd seen that seemed to be multiplying by the second.
I propped myself up onto my palms. "Answer her!" I shouted, startling him out of his oblivion. Better I scare him than having Jane torture it out of him.
He licked at his dry lips and stared at Jane, wondering how such a small childlike girl could inflict such monumental fear in him. "Ethan," he answered shakily. He blinked once, then looked from Jane to the four cloaked guards three times her size that stood not far behind her. His eyes widening in disbelief as he noticed all of them had blood-colored eyes.
"Ethan," Jane repeated, and he nodded, swallowing hard. She looked him over and shook her head slightly. "Why do we always have to kill the cute ones?" she asked herself. "Such a waste," she added with a sigh, feigning regret.
The mention of his fate sent tremors through the boy's body. His terror made his mind a buzz of overlapping thoughts that dizzied me. This definitely wasn't going to end well for him.
"And Edward, you really must be more vigilant," she scowled. "We don't need our secrets being revealed to everyone now, do we?"
I frowned curiously, sadly. "How did you know about him?"
"A little birdie told me," she replied. A slight twinkle of humor lit up her eyes which confused me until I realized that she meant her statement literally. My gaze landed on the tallest of the four guards that accompanied Jane as he grinned at Jane's remark. I had heard about Aquila before, the Volturi guard that was able to use animals as spies and messengers. He sneered at me and the same crow began to caw noisily again before flying off its branch and disappearing deep into the forest.
My face fell. There was never the opportunity to hide from the Volturi. Their members were powerful and proficient. To think I could fool them was ludicrous. My efforts were all for naught.
"There's no reason to kill the boy. He won't reveal to anyone of what he has seen," I said as more of a command to Ethan, and I stared at him with a knowing glance. He nodded vehemently as he understood, hoping for the minute possibility of his survival.
"You know the rules, Edward. There are no exceptions," Jane's expression was hard and resolute.
"Then turn him instead," I offered, unsure I had ameliorated Ethan's fate.
A sharp laugh exploded from Jane's mouth which she quickly stifled and replaced with an irritated growl. She looked offended. "Exactly what makes you think you can tell me what to do?!"
"He's just a boy," I tried, not expecting sympathy.
Again, I was forced to the ground as Jane claimed me with her torturous grasp. My cries tore from deep within my lungs. Thankfully her hold on me was brief.
"You're really starting to irritate me, Edward," she rasped, and began walking circles around me as I lay face-down on the ground, fisting the damp earth into my palms. Her little girl voice gnawed at my mind. "Have I not been lenient enough with you, being patient until you keep your word and turn Bella?" Her voice was shrill and a calculating smile suddenly crept across her angelic face. "You know, I think I'll make Bella my snack before heading back home. I do feel a little hungry now that I think about it."
I lifted myself back up into a crouch. "Bella will be taken care of. We assured you, the date has been set," I replied, struggling to keep myself from losing control and tearing her to shreds.
Jane looked bored and uninterested in hearing what I had to say. "I've been generous enough. The boy dies or Bella does," Jane concluded, coming to a stand-still in front of me.
There was no use trying to argue. I stood up slowly and looked grimly over at Ethan. His pulse almost stopped right then as my choice was clearly written on my face. It came down to either saving my love, or saving a stranger. My decision was simple enough.
"I'm sorry, Ethan," I uttered softly, unable to keep eye-contact with the boy. I just prayed that Jane would finish him quickly.
The boy sensed that it was fruitless to try and escape, and his legs gave out from under him. He crashed onto his knees in the dirt and sat back on his calves, his mouth gaping with silent pleas.
Jane nodded once. I braced myself as I expected Felix to break from the line to take care of the boy as he did with Bree, but the shrouded guards remained motionless as if they had become stone statues. Not even their cloaks fluttered in the light breeze.
Jane cocked her head and looked at me expectantly. "Carry on, then," she said, motioning toward the boy with a small wave of her hand.
I stood horrified as she insinuated that I kill the boy myself.
It was a few moments before I found my voice. "Why are you doing this?" I asked, unsure why I was surprised at her sadistic decision.
A sardonic giggle escaped her. "Because it's fun," she replied. "I may have missed the fight earlier but I think this could make up for it."
Ethan's kneeling form began to shudder as every pair of undead eyes landed on him.
My inaction made Jane impatient. "Do it," Jane commanded, "or she dies."
The thought of any more harm coming to my love drove my following actions. With quick strides I made my way over to the boy and grasped the fabric of his jacket in my fist, lifting him to his feet. He weight hung completely in my hand, his fear making him incapable of holding himself up. Placing my other hand around his neck, I forced his head to the side to reveal the arch of his throat. He whimpered, realizing his certain doom.
I have no choice.
I repeated this phrase silently as I forced myself to ignore Ethan's desperate pleas. Bringing my mouth against his neck, my lips curled back to reveal my teeth, but I could not bring myself to sink them into his flesh. I hovered my mouth millimeters from Ethan's throbbing jugular as he continued to shake and cry in anticipation of his own death.
"No... please," Ethan whimpered, clinging his hands around my arm. "I won't tell anybody anything. I swear!" he begged, sobbing pathetically. "I don't want to die!"
Jane clicked her tongue. "Really now, Edward. Not that I am complaining but you're just torturing the boy by dragging this out. If you're going to do that, let me at least play with him a little too."
The boy's weight suddenly became heavier in my grasp as he lifted his legs off the ground and upward into his chest. He screamed in agony as Jane shot spasms of pain through his body.
I couldn't let him suffer Jane's wrath. "Stop!" I screamed at her, and instantly felt Ethan's muscles relax as she immediately released her hold. But his relief would be brief.
Before either Ethan or I could realize it, my teeth sank deep into the side of his throat. He didn't even scream. My jaw clenched tightly as his hot blood washed over my tongue. By now my venom was working its way through his body, but it could never serve its purpose. Ethan had to die. I relaxed my jaw slightly and pulled my face away from his. His body went limp in my arms and I dropped to my knees with him still in my grasp.
I felt sick as his blood gurgled in his throat as he attempted to catch his last breath. The life was seeping out of him too slowly. Ethan blinked and his eyes glistened as they met mine. Despite my intentions, he was suffering. I heard Jane giggle shamelessly.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered to him, and with a quick motion, I turned his head sharply, snapping his spine. The sickening crack wasn't a sound I would soon forget.
Pushing Ethan's dead body off me and onto the ground, I stood up with my back to Jane and wiped my bloodstained lips with the back of my hand. I refused to look at her. I did what I had to. Now I just hoped that she would leave.
It was silent for a few moments, save for that snap that echoed relentlessly. The metallic taste of human blood saturated my mouth, securing my place in hell.
I clenched my fists tightly as she appeared beside me. Turning my head to the right, I looked down at the face I despised with daggers in my eyes, wishing I could obliterate her.
She smiled at me. "Now... was that really so hard?" Jane giggled.
I said nothing.
Her smile faded and she lifted both her hands to the side of her hood, pulling it back behind her head to reveal her dark silky hair. "You really do love her a lot, don't you?" she asked, almost sincerely.
Again, I refused to reply and turned my head, knowing my actions had spoken for themselves.
Jane laughed. "Thank you, Edward. That was quite entertaining. Perhaps we'll see each other again soon," she said casually.
I stood staring unseeing into the forest until I sensed that she had finally disappeared along with her guards. When I turned to look behind me, only Ethan's body remained. His dead stare held mine and I was unable to look away.
Regrettably, I had failed at saving his life, but my purpose had not gone unfulfilled... Nothing would ever threaten to harm Bella again. Like I said... I would always see to that.
A/N #2: Before I get butchered, I am aware that Aquila is not a real member of the Volturi, nor is the ability to use animals as spies. Since there are several unnamed members of the guard I decided to have a little creative fun with it. There is more to come so stay tuned!