Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to S. Meyer
A/N: This story starts off slow in order to set up certain story plots. This will be a Bella & Edward story eventually. If you want instant gratification you won't find it here. This story will eventually deal with adult themes.
Thank you to my Beta, keepingupwiththekids. She is the tequila in my margarita!
We were surrounded by the darkness.
Feelings of fear and dread washed over me, leaving me shaking with thoughts of being completely helpless. I felt its ice like fingers slowly moving towards us and I frantically reached out my hand to the closest body to me, in a subconscious move of self-protection.
Looking over to my right to see that it was Alice's hand that I was holding; wearing the same expression on her face that was flowing through me. On the opposite side of her was Jasper, holding onto her other hand.
We had found ourselves in a small opening in the forest, trying to regroup, only to fall into its trap. The trees and bushes around us were alive with unnatural moaning of pure gloom, foreboding what was about to befall us.
I could see my breath clearly, with the oncoming cold mist that was seeping its way towards us.
"Bella, you have to take Edward's hand!" Alice shouted next to me. The noise from the forest was loud enough that normal conversation was impossible to hear.
I turned my head to my left and saw Edward standing near me. Looking up to see his face filled with apprehension.
My own fear briefly changed to warmth towards him. It was that strange, wonderful, floating feeling that had been making its way to the surface of my being every time I was with him lately. I could almost see its rose-colored glow surround us. His face, person, everything, had become something precious to me in these past few weeks. I felt a moment of regret for not telling him what he meant to me.
Edward sensing my emotional change, reached for my hand and gripped it tightly. He held up our hands to show me that he was in this with me. That we were joined in whatever fate held for us now as his feelings of regret and warmth flowed over to me in return.
We are now equals.
"We're all joined in a circle!" I think Emmett yelled behind me.
My eyes stayed on Edward's face, who had closed his eyes in concentration to begin calling and channeling the Elements. I could see the strain and feel his fatigue that always followed when he tried to handle all four of them: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. In every other attempt we made, it had always led to failure. With our lives in peril, I could feel him trying to override the sleepiness trying to drag him under into the subconscious.
If there was some way that I could help him.
A flash of remembrance about a conversation between Esme and me, shortly after my imprinting, came to mind. Something that I had overlooked in our studies was now glaringly obvious. Would it work? We had failed every other time when we were joined in a circle, putting too much into one thought process. My gut told me that I was on the right path. Time was almost up for all of us. We needed to act on this now if we had any chance of surviving.
"Edward, stop! I know what we have to do!" I shouted in his ear.
Everything is Green…
… And wet.
Ever since we entered Northern California, it was as if we hit a wall of damp signaling that we were no longer in the warmth of my childhood hometown. Tall trees and rain had become the constant view outside my window in the backseat of my parent's car.
Mom and dad, after years of living in Phoenix, decided to move back to their hometown of Forks, Washington. It was some little town that barely registered on a map, with one main street running through it. After looking it up on Google, I realized it was going to be a bit of a drive to the nearest city that contained anything like a movie theater or a bookstore. Forks was essentially in the middle of nowhere, surround by lots of immense foliage and water.
Why they couldn't have waited a year, so I could finish my high school experience? Instead, they felt the need to move the first week of August, just two weeks away from the new school year. They didn't say much about why we were moving except that it had to do with family matters that needed attending to immediately; a family that I had never met in all my seventeen years.
I had heard various things about them growing up, but we had never paid them a visit during holidays or even had them come to us for a stopover. No Christmas or birthday cards, or even photos were exchanged. It was like mom, dad, and I were the only family members that mattered. We were happy, so I didn't think to question them further about the lack of contact or visits.
Now, I just didn't understand the about-face of it all, and to have it happen so quickly.
Of course, I would never verbalize my thoughts out loud to my parents. I sensed that they were not entirely happy with the move themselves. My usually exuberant mother became quiet overnight. When packing, I caught her a few times staring into space, clearly lost in her thoughts, her face showing extreme stress. I had never seen her act this way before and found it to be slightly unnerving.
Dad wasn't much better. He had always been quiet, but it was like he went completely mute.
In the last few days leading up to the drive up North, it had been up to me to organize the trip. Dad was trying to finish up work and mom had been on autopilot with packing. She was determined to get as much finished in the short amount of time we had to pack. Anything that didn't involve stuffing things into boxes was pushed to the side in her mind. Dad had given us a deadline of only three days.
On my last night, I had gone to the movies and dinner with a few friends from school. We made promises to e-mail, but I had a feeling that it was half-hearted. I was never popular at school. I was always the quiet, bookworm girl, not the cheerleading, party girl. I really had no use for getting involved with the illegal activities that most of that crowd was into at weekend parties. Not that I was ever invited, having a father that was a cop scared most kids away from inviting me into those situations.
The friends I had were more fair-weathered and I think that my cop father was hindering the fact that they had actually wanted to attend those parties. If that's what they wanted, it was probably better that the friendship ended here. I had plans to earn a scholarship to a good college and needed all of my faculties to concentrate on the end goal.
The drive had so far been relatively quiet. The only diversion had been mom, who was trying to snap out of her depression during the trip. She got dad to stop at places of interest for photo opportunities. My mother was into anything creative and was always involving me in the classes of her latest hobby. Painting, cooking, pottery, basket weaving, ballroom dancing, you name it she has probably tried it.
Photography was her latest passion. Stopping at places that had buildings shaped like coffee pots or old movie theaters with interesting decor, to take photos, appealed to her artistic side.
Seeing that it gave her some sort of peace and happiness, I conceded to having my picture taken along the way, even though it made me slightly uncomfortable. I never felt photogenic and the extra attention was not something I sought.
"Bella?" My father's deep, but soft voice broke me out of my thoughts. "We're about five miles away."
I sat up straighter in my seat, taking a better look out of the window at the surrounding view. We came upon the small town minutes later. I took in all the shops, restaurants, and motel along the main road. They were smaller and grey in comparison to the buildings I was use to in Phoenix. I felt a twinge of depression.
No warm inviting colors here.
We took a turn onto a smaller road, near the end of the most concentrated buildings of Fork's downtown area. We drove past a few neighborhoods with medium size houses, that all seemed to have a similar look to them: white outsides with dark colored shutters around the windows, and smallish front yards.
When we were driving past more trees than houses, I was curious to know where exactly we were headed.
"Dad?" I asked in confusion.
"Where are we going?"
It was then that I saw a solitary road up ahead and felt the car slow down to prepare to turn the corner. A frisson of something ran down my body. Something akin to electricity.
"We're a few more miles from the house," dad replied after turning onto the road.
Moments later, I caught glimpses of white peeking through the trees. As we got closer, I could make out large houses settled near each other.
The houses were nothing like what we had first seen upon entering the residential area, that they were more like mansions. The strange thing about them was that they were all different styles of design, but they seemed to fit together. They had some sort of harmony in their oddity.
As we passed one of the "newer" houses, two young women were standing in the driveway talking to each other. They turned to look, specifically at me, when we drove by them. One of them was a breath-taking, tall blonde, who had her arms crossed over her chest and stared at me directly without any sign of courtesy. The other was her opposite, in height and coloring, but just as beautiful. She smiled and gave a small wave. I gave a little smile in return.
Finally, we came to a stop in the circular driveway in front of a home that looked older than the rest. It was a large two story house; strike that, mansion, with columns that supported a second story wrap-around porch. The first story also had a porch with large French doors and dark green shutters adorning them. I could see that a good amount of the house was brick, but was painted white.
Holy shit, it's Tara from Gone with the Wind.
I swallowed hard, and turned to dad to find that he was staring at the house with such intensity, like a man in a desert finding an oasis full of cool water.
"Dad?" I asked tentatively, not sure if I should break whatever spell he was under.
He didn't even look away from the house, just grunted in acknowledgement.
"Is this our house?"
This seemed to alert him to move. He turned the engine off, and got out of the car. Mom followed, but didn't give the place much attention. She had been extremely quiet since we hit the town city limits.
"Yes. This is the Swan House, where I grew up," he said as he made his way up to the front porch.
This bit of information shocked me, realizing how little I knew of my father's life before Phoenix.
"You grew up here?" I asked incredulously, waving my hand in the direction of the house, following him.
As he took the first step onto the porch, the front door opened to reveal a handsome woman, who looked to be about the same age as dad. She had light brown hair, bright blue eyes, and was wearing black dress pants with a royal blue silk blouse.
"Charlie! It's so good to see you!" The woman exclaimed happily, stepping forward to embrace my father. "How was your trip?"
After a few words with dad about the journey, she turned towards us to take in mom and me. When she looked at mom, her smile faltered a little, but it was back in place when her eyes met mine. In fact, her smile brightened further then when she greeted dad.
"You must be Isabella," she said coming down to the foot of the steps, where I stood. She took me into a maternal hug and then pulled away to get a better look at me, keeping her hands on my upper arms.
"Welcome to Forks. I'm your Aunt Margaret," she said. She gave me one more hug and then released me to greet mom.
There was a sort of tension between them, but could tell that mom was relieved when they eventually embraced. They were quiet in their greeting, interrupted only by Dad who broke the moment with a clearing of his throat.
"Is anyone else around or just you, Maggie?"
"No, it's just me for the moment," Aunt Margaret replied, turning her attention back to dad. "We planned on having you over for dinner later tonight, but since that is only a few hours away, we can put it off until tomorrow if you want to get settled in a bit."
Dad looked over to mom and then nodded his head. "I think tomorrow might be better."
She smiled and then looked at me. "Isabella, maybe tomorrow morning you would like to meet your cousin Emmett? He's been looking forward to your arrival."
"Um, okay," I replied, receiving yet another stunning bit of information: I had a cousin.
She smiled "Great. Is ten o'clock okay?" looking at dad for confirmation. "We'll bring breakfast."
Dad just nodded his head in acceptance.
She gave me one last smile before turning back to mom and dad to lead them into the house. I took a moment to turn around and look at the front yard. It was made up of a paved circular drive with a white brick mailbox at the end. In the center was a well-manicured lawn with medium bushes lined up near the road. Across the road, I could see patches of white of the house closest to ours through the trees that acted as a natural fence.
The contrast of my surroundings was vastly different to what I was use to in the desert. While I was not a fan of the intense heat we could experience in Phoenix, I would much rather take that, than this constant cloud-cover and wetness. It added an extra weight on me physically and emotionally.
Turning to go into the house, I heard a car coming from the direction that we had previously driven. As it came closer, I could hear faint music, knowing that it must be loud inside the car. Finally, it rounded the bend and came into view. It was sleek, silver, and it moved fast, like it was competing with the aggressive noise that pulsed from it. It passed by quickly continuing along the road without a sign of slowing down on the narrow road.
The car had screamed money even though I wasn't familiar with the type of car. It reminded me of some of the more privileged kids back home, who drove expensive cars without a care for anyone else on the road. I guess some things didn't change no matter where you lived.
I turned back to the house as the noise from it muted from distance.
I walked inside to find myself gasping in surprise. The room was completely breathtaking.
It was an entry room that had multiple doors running along each wall with a large sweeping staircase towards the end that led up to the second floor. The room had a tall ceiling, covered in rich looking sage green wallpaper that one would find in antique shops or see in period rooms in museums.
Somewhat behind the staircase at the other end of the long room, I could make out another set of double doors made mostly of warped aged glass that looked like it led to the backyard. I was drawn to the door to get a better look of what was behind it.
As I got closer, I could see that it was actually another room beyond it that looked like it was made of glass and filled with plants. Walking through the door, I realized that I was in a greenhouse. It was a large white painted metal room, with many windows that had a red brick pathway that led to another door at the far end.
The plants seemed to have grown wild with no rhyme or reason to their layout. Silent fruit trees were mixed in with half-dead bushes. Small next to tall, shapes clashing, with strange scents mixing. It resembled a chaotic jungle, but I felt enticed to move further into the room.
There was a feeling of welcoming in this room, like it wanted me here. That feeling of electricity I had felt earlier was back.
I noticed that along the pathway in the center of the room was a circle made of the same brick, and walked over to it. Looking closer, I could make out symbols like on a compass. There was one for North with an arrow pointing in its direction. Right below the "N", there was another drawing of some sort. It looked like a child's sketch of a green leaf. I turned to the next point on the floor compass, of East and found another sketch of what looked like a white cloud. I kept turning and saw that both South and West also had their own picture as well.
North, South, East, West.
Earth, Air, Fire, Water.
I looked directly down at my feet to see the center of the circle. It was filled in with a type of purple stone. It wasn't brick, but it didn't look like marble either.
"Bella?" I looked up to see my dad walking to me.
"Dad, look at this, it's like a compass."
"I'm surprised that you found it so soon," he replied, pensively.
I looked at him confused. "I just felt the need to come in here," I replied simply and returned to looking at the stone in the center of the circle.
"It's amethyst," he said answering my unspoken question.
"It's considered to be the heart of the house," he told me softly as he came to stop just outside the circle.
"What is it?" I whispered. He was looking at me intently, his eyes asking me a question that I wasn't sure I knew the answer for, leaving me feeling a little nervous.
"It's a circle."
Dad turned and moved over to one of the areas that had less of the entangled plants. He knelt down to run his hand over the dirt.
"Bella come here for a moment."
I walked over knowing what he was going to ask of me. I hadn't done it in so long. It was a type of game that he had taught me when I was five. We would do it on and off for years, when mom wasn't around. He told me that I couldn't tell her because it might upset her. Knowing that it was something special for just the two of us, I complied. We stopped when I started high school and mom was trying to get me more involved in a social life.
I knelt down beside him and ran my hand over the dirt, in a loving manner as he had taught me to do all those years ago. I could feel a tinkling of energy beneath my palm. It felt very different and much more pleasant then that harsh arid sand back home. I took a deep breath to release all other thoughts and concentrated on the ground below me.
"Earth, attend to me," I whispered and felt a glow of energy.
I could smell the perfect scent of all things growing, as it lovingly engulfed me, waiting for my request. I channeled my thoughts of growth and new beginnings from my hands into the soil.
It released out of me and spread itself into the ground. I could feel it slowly seep into the floor of the greenhouse until it stopped at the walls. The energy hummed in pleasure and then dulled down into nothing.
"Thank you," I said.
I didn't realize that I had closed my eyes in the process, then I opened them to see the sight in front of me. Plants, trees, and bushes were in motion. Everything was waking up from its slumber. Green grass appeared slowly up from the ground, while tightly closed buds of flowers released their grip and let forth- bold colors with heavenly smells.
This was the part that I loved to see. Dad and I stood there to watch the display of waking life, with quiet awe.
"Charlie!" I heard my mom's strangled voice from behind us.
I spun around quickly I saw my mother and aunt had joined us. Mom's face was scrunched up in anguish, her hands tightened into fists at her side, body completely stiff. She was looking directly at dad.
"You promised!" She yelled at him.
I looked at dad to see him look ashamed for a moment. I didn't like that mom was blaming him for what I had done. Without really thinking, I stepped forward and took one of my mother's fists into my hands to try to calm her. "No mom, dad didn't do this, it was me," I told her gently.
My words had the opposite effect. Her head jerked back to me with a look of surprise and horror mixed, her mouth started to move but without sound.
"How?" she was able to finally whisper brokenly. "I taught you nothing."
I could feel dad coming to stand next to me to take mom into his arms.
"Shhhhh, Renee, this was part of the reason we came back." I could hear him whisper into her hair. "You knew that we would have to address this."
I looked over at my aunt to see her reaction and found her looking at me with excitement, but not with the horror that mom had expressed.
Feeling totally confused, and getting rather scared I had looked back at my parents.
"Dad?" I asked, not exactly sure what question I should ask him first.
"It's okay, Bella. We'll talk about this in a few minutes. If you could please go with your aunt, have her show you your new room."
I walked out of the there, not quite looking where I was being led. The fascination I had of the house was lost on me at that moment, feeling only a sinking weight in my stomach; nervous about why mom had freaked out over what I had done.
I knew that it was something dad wanted to keep quiet about and that it wasn't something that we had truly talked about, since it was more of a game from when I was a child. It was surprising to see her reaction though. It didn't seem like a big deal when dad and I did it, but to mom, it was as if I had committed a crime.
When we stopped inside a room upstairs, I realized that Aunt Margaret had been talking for some time. I looked at her and smiled to show her that I did not mean to ignore her.
She came over and gave me a hug for comfort.
"It will be okay," she whispered. "All will be explained and we'll start your training."
I must have asked it out loud, because she gave me a quick squeeze and then released me.
She looked directly into my eyes, with a small smile. "Yes, training. It's obvious that Charlie has taught you something of our heritage, but the reactions from you and your mother tell me that it's very rudimentary. Except, what I saw in the greenhouse showed the control of maturity, which is a complete surprise."
I shook my head at her, still completely confused by what she was saying.
"I don't understand what you are telling me," I told her, frustrated.
"Bella, your mom and dad are part of a long history of the land we are standing on. Promises were made years ago to protect this land and each generation upholds those promises. Now it's time for them to keep theirs and to train you to carry on."
"I've made no promise of the sort. Phoenix is my home," My voice rising, clearly annoyed. Why couldn't she stop beating around the bush and tell me the truth? What promise?
"No Bella, it truly isn't. Your dad told me that you never felt like you fit in; that you had few friends and almost no social activities outside of your time with your mother. It was clear that you were meant to be here. We can't escape this promise."
When did dad tell her this? He never spoke of such a conversation with the family here. I knew my mother had a married brother and that was about the extent. I never heard about what they did for a living or that the neighborhood they lived in was as grand as it is. Now we were here because someone had to make sure that the lawn was mowed?
"So, are we some sort of caretakers?"
"Yes, that's a good way of describing our job here," she smiled.
"That doesn't explain why mom is upset. Dad just had me give a greeting. It's no big deal."
Her smiled widen and laughed.
What the hell?
"That was more than a greeting. It was Earth magic. Very powerful Earth magic and it was accepted, acknowledging the promise from the Swan family."
"Magic? Let me guess we're Witches," I said sarcastically.
"Yes, we are," A soft reply came from the doorway behind me.
I turned to see mom and dad standing just outside of the room. Both of their faces showed no humor. My mom's revealed a deep sadness and my dad's worry, but with purpose.
It was my turn to laugh, albeit slightly hysterically. "I'm a Witch?"I asked pointing to my chest.
"Yes," dad replied soberly.
"You two…" I said pointing to mom and dad then turned to look at my aunt as well, "and you are all Witches?"
Mom just shook her head in affirmation. They were not joking at all.
"Okay. Things just keep getting better and better don't they?" I muttered sitting down hard on the bed, talking to no one in particular.