May 2012: This story was first posted online at Twilighted in January 2009, then added to FanFiction in July 2009. After Chapter 21 was posted in August 2010, the story lived in limbo until Spring 2012. To date, the story has 1640 reviews on Twi'd and 754 reviews on FFn. Every one of my readers has been phenomenal in supporting me and this story since day one. Each of you challenge and inspire me to do this story the justice it deserves. I sincerely apologize that is has taken me this long to complete the journey.
I began re-editing the story in January 2012 and re-posting it in June 2012. It is complete. The remaining chapters will be posted before the end of August, 2012.
Thank you for your acceptance, your thoughtfulness, your faith in me, and your defense of this iteration of Edward and Bella's life. I cannot measure my gratitude.
Edward, Bella and Alice are drawn into a no-win scenario in Volterra after Edward's attempted suicide-by-Volturi in the Palazzo dei Priori. Aro confronts Edward to make an impossible choice, with Alice as Aro's unwitting accomplice. How will Edward's choice affect his reunion with Bella, and what future can they hope to salvage in the aftermath?
Story begins in New Moon, during Chapter 21, "The Verdict," but enters the AU when Aro reads Alice's mind...
AU, but canon through New Moon, with canon pairings.
~*~ warning ~*~ story contains very dark themes, including a sexual assault in the first chapter. if this subject is a trigger for you, please do not continue.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse and need assistance, please contact RAINN
apps (dot) rainn (dot) org/ohl-bridge/
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight series, or any of the characters created by Stephenie Meyer. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
"Aro met her halfway, and took her hand with an eager, acquisitive glint in his eyes. He bent his head over their touching hands, his eyes closing as he concentrated. Alice was motionless, her face blank... No one moved. Aro seemed frozen over Alice's hand... Another agonizing moment passed, and then Aro's voice broke the silence." –S. Meyer, New Moon
"Could it be?" Aro's gaze darted from Alice to Edward and back, a look of smug satisfaction descending over his gaunt features.
"Edward, what do you fear most?"
"Come, come, you know that's a lie. I know all your fears. Shall I name them out loud for you?"
A menacing growl rumbled in Edward's chest.
"You fear for Bella. You fear hurting her fragile human shell. You fear turning her. You fear making love to her. You're afraid to show her what you really are, that she will recoil and reject you utterly. You fear for her soul, her virtue, her future, everything. Every fear you have revolves around her. Wait - not every fear. You fear for your beloved 'sister,' as well. You're terrified we'll hurt her, here, in this room. You've never told Bella just how much you love Alice, have you? Well, well! Isn't this an interesting tangent..."
Bella searched Edward's face for the truth behind Aro's manipulating words. He looked at her lovingly, reassuringly.
"Are we agreed, Edward, about your fears? Have I named them truly?"
He hissed "Yes. What do you want?"
"I want you to join us, Edward. I want Bella to join us, and Alice as well. That is what I want."
"Never. We've already told you this."
"Ahhh, careful, Edward. Be very careful. As we discussed, everything has a price, my son. I am willing to pay much to get what I want. I am also willing to extract much from you for refusing. Do we understand each other?"
Another growl rumbled in Edward's chest, more menacing than the last.
"Did you know that your beloved sister is keeping a secret? An enormous secret; a secret so dangerous, she's attempted to bury it even from herself?"
Alice cried out "NO!" and collapsed to her knees in a defeated heap.
Edward flashed a look to Jane, but Jane had nothing to do with Alice's agony.
"Have you made love to your precious human yet, Edward?"
"That's none of your business."
"Ahhh, but I already know the answer, and it is about to become my business. I'm making it the core of my business. You see, the secret your sister tries so desperately to conceal has been revealed. The human will bear you an heir."
"Apparently not, if your sister's visions are to be believed, and I understand no one bets against Alice."
"Her visions are influenced by choice - the visions change when choices change, our free will changes the future, changes her visions."
"Alice, have you had this vision for some time?"
"Jane, please encourage her to answer my questions."
Alice writhed on the floor in silent spasms. Between gritted teeth she answered him. "YES, you filthy bastard, yes. I've seen this since the beginning."
"ALICE!" Edward was shocked by Alice's admission. He caught Bella as she collapsed, sliding her gently to the floor.
"Has the vision ever wavered, Alice? Changed, altered in any way?" Aro's voice was smooth, deadly.
"Not even when the coward ran away and abandoned her?"
Edward and Alice hissed at Aro's use of the word 'coward.'
"So you see Edward, there are forces at work here beyond free will. Even when you made a choice to discard her, her destiny never changed."
I'm so sorry, Edward - I never thought it would come to this, Alice thought.
"Will you join us Edward?"
"What do you fear, Edward?"
"I require but a small price for her life, Edward. For Alice's life, for your own. I know you care little for your own, or you would never have come here on your little suicide quest. But surely you will barter with me for theirs?"
"What do you want?"
"Ahh, that's better. See how easy?"
"WHAT DO YOU WANT?"
"Can't you guess, my son? Can't you?"
Bella was disoriented, but coming around. Edward kissed her temple. "What's going on here? I don't understand."
"Tell your precious what I want, Edward. TELL HER."
"They want us to join them. All of us, you, Alice, me."
"That's not all of it Edward. Tell her the rest."
"I don't know what you want. What else could you possibly want? What more is there to give?"
"I'll let you three leave, Edward. I'll swear an oath. You will all leave here together, under your own power."
"WHAT DO YOU WANT IN RETURN?"
Jane laughed. "Don't be obtuse, Edward."
"I want your heir, young Cullen."
Edward was stunned. "There is no heir, there will be no heir. Alice is mistaken. It's impossible. How could you believe? How?"
"Your seed is merely dormant, not dead. Her body is ripe, we can all smell it. Your seed will take hold. I could never have believed it myself, but Alice's vision is particularly clear. Your self control exceeds Carlisle's, and I'm sure she'll survive. You will do this, you will do it now, and then I will release you. Jane will accompany you on your journey home, and will return to me with the heir when it is born. Do you understand me? I want there to be no confusion here, Edward. You have a simple choice. You can join us, or give me the heir."
"If I refuse both?"
"Then you and Alice will leave this place on a column of smoke, and I'll turn Bella myself. Her uniqueness is too powerful to ignore. I'm sure, with the appropriate persuasion, she could bring her gift to bear in our favor. Or perhaps I'll create my own heir. I'd hate to erase her fertility for all eternity without trying. I can always turn her if things go badly in my attempt to procreate. I've never copulated with a living mortal before, who can say if I would be able to exhibit your restraint. If she lives, and if hers proves to be a gift she can pass down to her offspring, she may prove very valuable to us alive for the next few years... A breeding program could be a fascinating endeavor. I wonder how her gift would express itself if she were mated with our young Alec, or perhaps Felix? Certainly they wouldn't be as beautiful as offspring of yours, Edward, but it's an interesting thought."
A look of sheer terror came across Bella's face. Edward's arms wound around her tight enough to bruise.
He's not bluffing, Edward.
"Can we have a moment, alone, please? Dear god, please?" Edward's voice betrayed the panic he was trying to hide from Aro.
"Privacy is a privilege, Edward, and I will not risk the two of you scheming to alter this outcome. I will personally supervise every interaction you have with her until you choose."
"Edward - you can't let him touch me. Please, Edward, anything. Do whatever he asks. Do whatever it takes to get us out of here alive."
"Smart child. Did you hear her, Edward? She's willing, even begging for it! How delicious. What more encouragement could you need?"
"Bella, do you understand what he's asking of us? He wants me to impregnate you. Here, now, and then give Jane our child when it's born."
"I can force you to do this, you know. We have the means. Your body can be made to perform, Edward. It's very simple."
Aro's thoughts were of Edward restrained nude on an elaborate table, members of his guard holding Alice nearby, their fists tight at her throat. He could see Bella being brought toward him, also nude, a cloak loose on her shoulders. She was weeping. Aro thought about Jane's hands on Edward's phallus, preparing him, and then multiple pairs of hands pressing a bound Bella onto him. He silently thanked whatever god there was that Bella couldn't see this.
Edward closed his eyes and shook his head to try and rid himself of Aro's thoughts. "You're evil, Aro. I don't know how Carlisle ever thought otherwise."
"I'm just showing you your options Edward. I can certainly allow this to be a somewhat more intimate experience than what you just saw. I'm sure it will minimize your distractions if there are fewer throats nearby burning for Bella's maiden blood when you spill it. Wouldn't you agree?"
Edward tuned to Bella. "I can't do this to you, Bella. I'd rather be ripped to shreds than allow this."
"If you don't, think of what it will mean for me – what they'll do to me."
"Oh god, Bella, I don't want this."
"Just fuck me and get it over with Edward. I'll close my eyes, pretend I'm somewhere else. We'll get it over with, and you'll never have to see me again, you'll be rid of me again."
"Bella, NO! That's not what I meant. I lied when I left you! I've always loved you, and wanted nothing but to be with you, forever. All I've ever done is hurt you, put you in harm's way. Even leaving you hurt you. I can't get away from it. No matter what I do, you always end up in pain. And now, this!"
"I don't care about any of that now, Edward. Any pain is bearable if I have you. I just want us to get out of here alive. Do what he says. I don't care. None of the rest matters. We'll give him what he wants - and then we'll start over."
He pulled her into his arms, held her face to his chest as he spoke with a ragged sigh. "Aro, I won't do this here, on this floor. I won't do this like dogs in heat. We'll do what you want but, please, allow us our dignity."
"As you wish, boy. Demetri, Felix, please escort our love birds to the entertainment suite. Perhaps they'll find the accommodations more comfortable than our dining room floor for the task at hand. Felix, I would like you to stay particularly close to Edward, and be prepared to restrain him if he appears about to harm the girl. Alec, please be so kind as to keep our darling Alice subdued while I witness the insemination. My brothers, sadly, have other matters to attend." Edward flinched at the thought of Alec's hands on his sister, and at the word insemination.
Edward, I can't see any other way out of here. Bella's strong, she'll get over this. I'll be fine.
Demetri allowed them to walk with their arms wrapped around each other. Edward whispered into her ear, "I love you so much Bella, I'm so sorry this is happening."
"I don't care about anything but getting us out of here alive. Do what he tells you to do, and we'll deal with the rest later. I can't think about this - I can't - just get it over with."
"Love, this is going to hurt you, and I can't help that. I'll try to be gentle, but I have no idea what to expect. I have to trust that Felix will prevent me from doing any grave damage. I'm so sorry, Bella. I could never have imagined us together like this, in any but the most loving and tender way. The rage I feel right now…"
"Don't. Just don't. Stop thinking. Stop speaking. We have a task. Think of it only as that, and we'll be alright."
She's right Edward. This is about them having control over us, proving their authority, as much as this offspring business. All we can hope to do is get out of here with Bella alive. Carlisle will help us figure out the rest later.
Aro paused before the enormous door as Demetri pushed it open. The 'entertainment suite' consisted of an enormous round space with a high ceiling, the walls hung with dark tapestries and lined with richly upholstered chairs facing the center of the room. There was a large bed there, with heavy leather straps dangling loose from its corners. Other more devious items hung from the walls. Clearly this room was used for the entertainment of those seated, not necessarily those on the bed. Bella faltered as she entered, surveying the scene. Edward tightened his grip on her shoulder, matching her hesitation. She shivered and then straightened, stepping forward bravely to the bed.
She whispered to him, "Just get it over with. Don't drag this out over some misplaced need for romance. Don't give them any more of a show than necessary. Anything else we'll ever have between us after this will be ours alone. Alright?"
He took her into his arms and kissed her. He could hear Jane and Aro's robes rustling as they seated themselves near the bed. Alec pulled Alice onto his lap closer to the head of the bed, and Felix stood near the foot. Demetri closed the door and seated himself beside Aro.
Bella broke Edward's embrace and removed her clothing with startling detachment. Edward watched her, unable to believe he was seeing her body for the first time. She sat on the edge of the bed and scooted toward the middle, refusing to look at anything but the ceiling. She fought the urge to turn away and curl into a ball on the far edge of the bed. She stretched out flat, her arms above her head. Edward was almost able to forget they had five pairs of Volturi eyes trained on them, plus Alice, who was undoubtedly looking away. He could hear Bella's heart beating wildly, could see the pounding artery beneath the skin of her throat. A low groan rumbled deep within his chest as he gazed at the beauty of her body in the low light. He was jerked back to awareness when he felt Felix' grasp on his shoulder, crushingly tight.
"It's alright, Felix. Let the boy proceed. Is this the first time you've seen her body, Edward? She's truly stunning; youthful, and perfect in every way. I'm envious of your task."
Don't listen to him Edward. Forget we're even here.
He resisted the urge to lunge at Aro's throat, knowing Demetri would rip him to pieces before he could do any damage to Aro. All that would achieve would be to leave Bella unprotected. He removed his clothing mechanically. He was humiliated by his full arousal, and yet grateful that Bella wouldn't have to endure Aro's alternative if he'd been unable to perform on his own.
He heard Jane's favorable and detailed assessment of his physique and wanted to retch.
He lay down on the bed beside Bella, his body shielding her from Aro's gaze. He placed his cold hand on her belly and watched her skin pebble. The scent of her pulse may as well have been water - he had no desire for it whatsoever. Trembling, he leaned in to kiss one of her breasts. It was the first time he'd been this close to her, the first time they'd been naked together, and he hated the circumstances. Her back arched involuntarily into his touch. He looked up and their eyes met. He opened his mouth to speak and she placed her hand over his lips. "Please don't speak. I don't want to remember your voice like this; I don't ever want to hear your voice and have to think of this."
He nodded and buried his face in her neck, kissing her collarbone. She rested her hand lightly on his shoulders. His hand traveled down her leg hesitantly, and then she grabbed his arm, pushing his hand toward her groin. He tried to resist until she spread her legs and joined her fingers with his. She was dry as parched earth. He remembered her words. We have a task. Think of it as only that. He knew he had to prepare her or penetration would be nothing but excruciating and bloody, especially given his endowment. He lowered himself back to her breast and began kissing her again, as he explored the secrets of her sex with his hand. Her breathing became irregular as she began to respond. He felt her arousal increasing as traces of slick moisture gathered on his fingers.
He shifted his body between her legs and poised himself at her entrance. He paused with his forehead on hers, hating himself for having come to Italy, hating himself for being aroused, hating the Volturi, wishing he could leap from this bed and kill them all single-handedly. He pressed himself against her, and she gasped at the sensation. He wanted to speak, wanted to tell her how much he loved her, how sorry he was for everything he'd ever done to hurt her, how he wished he'd never been born, never been turned, how he wished he was strong enough to make this all stop, to get her out of here without this horrible degradation. She'd told him not to speak, so he remained silent. He kissed her chest, above her heart, hoping she could feel him pleading for her forgiveness with his silent lips.
He pressed against her further, feeling her tissue being abraded, hearing her panting breath changing to a grunt. He withdrew slightly, and returned. Her muscles were cramping, and her legs were beginning to quiver. She was losing her arousal and there was precious little moisture left within her to ease his progress. He groaned in frustration, fighting his body's instinct to drive into her mindlessly, appalled at the thought of hurting her in search of his own satisfaction. He felt her hand twist tightly in his hair as she whispered "NOW, Edward."
He didn't hesitate. He grunted as he thrust into her fully, hearing her skin stretch and tear to accommodate him, feeling her hymen break, smelling the fresh blood that coated him as she yelped in pain. He shuddered at the incredible sensation, the consuming warmth of being completely sheathed by her body, hating that he felt pleasure as tears of pain leaked from her closed eyes.
He heard four distinct gasps when the aroma of Bella's blood reached their noses. Aro laughed. Edward pulled back, and thrust into her again. Her fingernails dug into his shoulders and scalp as she moaned in agony, tears coursing down her cheeks. He smelled the salt, but was unable to look at her face. He continued to move within her, struggling to beat back his rage and allow his body to find its release. He had to ignore the involuntary sounds she was making, ignore the dry rasp of his skin on hers, ignore the barely stifled laughter coming from Felix and Demetri, ignore the chatter of Aro to Jane about 'virgins being the most fascinating to watch.' He had to finish this quickly, for Bella's sake. He closed his mind to anything but the instinct to rut, and the sensation of her body tight around his. The scent of her bleeding sex began to fuel his movements, and he was grateful for one thing only in that torture room: Felix, ready to stop him should bloodlust overtake him. Within a dozen strokes, he felt his release begin. His body tensed as he continued to move, tightening like an enormous coiled spring. He wailed like a man being skinned alive, his body arching, his head thrown back, his arms holding him rigidly above her pale body, limp beneath him. He continued to twitch within her as he completed his task, the rest of his body completely motionless.
He became aware of laughter around him, and Felix's lingering hand on his naked hip, ready to fling him aside.
"Amazing control, young Cullen. Ha ha! Truly a sight to behold. Well done! What a shame my brothers had to miss that!"
Felix roared with laughter, muttering to himself something about teaching him how to service a woman properly. Demetri laughed at Felix's comment, saying it was "a waste of two perfectly good virgins, imagine the fun we could have had."
He withdrew himself from Bella, moving away from Felix' hand, and lay at her side with his leg draped across her groin, trying unsuccessfully to shield her bleeding body from Felix's sight. He caressed her face, kissing her shoulder. She recoiled from his touch, curling up on her side.
Not yet Edward. Now isn't the time to be tender. Wait until they leave.
He nodded silently, resting his head against Bella's back, and resigned himself to Aro's continued presence in the room.
"Tut tut, gentlemen, we have a higher purpose here. The product of their union will be an immeasurable asset to us. I couldn't allow our talented little human treasure here to be spoiled by you two just for sport, and I'd hate for either of you to damage the boy while we may still need him. Besides, if he gets the girl with child on the first try, we'll be very lucky. I think we'll have to wait and see. We may yet have more to watch with these two; perhaps his finesse will improve in the intervening hours. Hopefully Alice will be able to tell us soon if they were successful. Come, I believe Heidi has some snacks arranged for us in the throne room."
Alice stood up from Alec's lap, anxiously awaiting the day Jasper would repay Alec for his wandering hands.
As the five Volturi left the room, Bella sat up and faced the far wall, pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around herself, rocking. She felt dampness leaking from her torn body onto the bed.
Triage, Edward. Damage control - NOW.
"May I have my shirt, please?" Her voice was oddly calm.
"Of course. Love, are you alright? Bella?"
Edward picked up her shirt from the floor and lifted it for her to put her arms through the sleeves. She grabbed it from his hands roughly, pulled her hand back and slapped him across the face. He couldn't look at her. She raised her hand and hit him again. She paused, and raised her hand a third time and he caught her wrist. "You'll hurt your hand. I deserve it, but please don't hurt yourself."
"Oh god, Edward." She buried her face in her hands and began to weep.
He pulled her into his arms, oblivious that they were both still nude and smeared with her drying blood. "Bella, please - I'm so sorry. All of this is my fault, from the day I left you in the woods I've done nothing but make things worse. Please forgive me? Please tell me you can forgive me; that we can leave here and start again? Please, Bella. I can't go on without you. I'm so sorry."
"I hate him! He made you rape me!" She choked on the words. Tears were pouring from her eyes in rivers, her shoulders heaving with her sobs.
"Oh Bella, don't - please, don't. I'll find a way to make him pay for this, but even if he burns in hell for a thousand millennia, it won't be enough for doing this to us. God, what I wouldn't give to have gotten you out of here before this happened. I should have let him kill me, but then you'd have suffered far worse at his or someone else's hands."
"Yes. You're right," she sniffled. "It could have been much worse." She continued to rock herself in his arms, the forgotten shirt still in her hand, tears still coursing down her face.
Alice's voice was a soothing whisper. "Bella, look at me. Bella? We're going to survive this. They're going to release us. We'll go home, we'll see Carlisle, and we'll all be safe." How she wished Carlisle was here, and Jasper, and even Jacob. All of them. She wanted to go home.
"Am I pregnant, Alice?"
"Yes, I think so, or you will be shortly."
"Will Edward have to - again?"
"I don't know. That depends on whether Aro believes me or not."
"Does he really want my baby?"
Edward put his hand to her face, cupping her cheek, and kissed her lips softly. "Yes, love."
"We'll find a way to stop him. Carlisle will help us, we'll find a way. Alright?"
"This is too much - I can't - pregnant - and you - what we did…"
"I never allowed myself to dream we could have a physical relationship Bella. If I had, our first time would have been slow, and gentle. I should have made you feel everything our bodies can give each other. I should have shown you how devoted to you I am, that I will never leave your side for the rest of my existence, if you'll have me. This wasn't me; this wasn't an expression of my love for you. If I could strip this night from your mind forever, I would."
"Just hold me and don't let me go. We'll still have a first time together, when we're both ready, right?"
"When you're ready, we'll make each other forget this night ever happened."
Alice retreated from the bed to a far corner of the room and closed her eyes. She pictured Jasper's arms around her, and allowed the image to carry her away as she listened to the tender words Bella and Edward exchanged about forgiveness, courage, longing and devotion.
Snippets of a vision flashed before her eyes, piecemeal: Bella enormously pregnant, bones crunching, spewing an ocean of blood on the floor of Carlisle's office. Edward and Jacob screaming her name, pulling a squirming bloody infant from her torn body. A scrawny wailing creature laying at her breast, beside its whimpering twin. Edward struggling to seal the incision he'd made to remove their son and daughter from her womb. A syringe full of venom injected straight into her heart. A pair of small pale hands reaching out to claim one of the babies. Jacob beginning chest compressions to distribute the venom, his tears falling on Bella's face as he pleaded with her to fight. Jane gliding from the room silently, carrying Masen Jacob Cullen to Italy before his changing mother had even seen his face.
I sincerely appreciate every reader that has stuck with me over the extended time (3 plus years) it has taken to finish this story. For new readers, I know this is a dark beginning, but please bear with me.
This story was born of a nightmare I had in 2008, and I had to get it out. The more time I spent just getting it out of my system, the more I realized I needed to post it and give it wings. The positive response I've received continues to be heartwarming, and humbling.
January 2012: chapter re-edited for minor content and dialogue refinement. First posted on Twilighted January 2009.